Recipe: Beet Hummus
Twice a month, Berkshire County native Alana Chernila, mother of two, and author of the cookbook, The Homemade Pantry: 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying & Start Making (Clarkson Potter), contributes a thoughtful and heartfelt essay/recipe created exclusively for Rural Intelligence readers. Her first cookbook has achieved top-seller status, and Chernila has a new one in the works, titled “The Homemade Kitchen,” due out in 2015.
I always feel grateful when the weather dresses like the season. I suppose that’s one thing that makes me a good New Englander because I: a) like the seasons (all of them!), and I’m happy when they feel just like my memories dictate they should and b) am more at ease when things are just as they should be—warm in the summer, cold in the winter, pretty in the autumn, and muddy in the spring.
This past weekend obliged in all the right ways. Friday night, still October after all, was just warm enough that we didn’t have to bundle the kids over their Halloween costumes. We wandered up and down and around the streets of the hill neighborhood in Great Barrington, all of us happy for the excuse to take over the street for a night. No matter where we pushed through the dark, the same kids in great costumes kept reappearing, as if we all had the same wandering path. The kid in the toilet costume. The stealthy and tiny grim reaper who ran from house to house. And the Elsas! So many frosty Elsas, each shining and sparkling in their own way.
And perhaps all those tiny Elsas brought the weather. Because the next day, the cold blew in, and it rattled against the windows to announce November. I pulled out the winter coats, I put away the flip-flops, there—right on schedule outside the supermarket—were the “holiday logs” alongside the rest of the pumpkins.
I’m ready. I’m ready to start talking about Thanksgiving and holiday gifts and cocktails that come in a mug. But today, lets talk about a vegetable that’s sweet, versatile, and plentiful right now: the amazing beet.
The most traditionally tasty way to cook a beet is to roast it, and although I travel from that path with success now and then, I always come back to roasting. I always recommend roasting a few bunches at a time, because a jar of roasted beets in your fridge will keep for nearly a week, and if you have them ready to go they’ll find their way into salads, pasta dishes, and spreads. If I’m roasting something else in the oven, I’ll often put beets in there too, just to make the most of the oven space. To roast beets, cut off the greens so there is about an inch of stem attached to each beet. (Save the greens, and sauté or steam them or add them to soup like any other hearty green.) Wash the beets, and put them in a baking dish with about an inch of water. Cover the dish tightly, either with a lid to the dish or aluminum foil, and roast at 375°F until the beets are tender when pricked with a fork. This will take between 45 minutes and 90 minutes, depending on the size of your beets. Then remove the pan from the oven, let the beets cool, and slip them right out of their skins.
This beet hummus has been my new favorite way to use roasted beets. It’s more beets than chickpeas, so it’s a great way to eat more beets. The recipe comes from David Lebovitz’s new book, My Paris Kitchen. It’s a gorgeous book (very holiday giftworthy, if you’re on the prowl for gifty cookbooks), and I’ve been happily cooking, reading, and dreaming of Paris with it ever since it came out in the spring. But this hummus in particular has been a revelation around here—everyone loves it. Don’t leave out the pomegranate molasses. It’s essential. And it’s inexpensive, easy to find (in my neck of the woods you can get it at Guido’s or Locke, Stock & Barrel), and it’s a useful ingredient for all sorts of dressings and marinades.
12 ounces cooked, peeled and diced beets (you can use red or golden beets, but red will make the hummus a great color)
2/3 cup cooked, drained chickpeas
2 large cloves garlic, peeled and minced
6 tablespoons tahini
2 teaspoons salt, plus more if needed
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus more if needed
generous pinch of cayenne pepper or smoked chile powder
1½ tablespoons pomegranate molasses
1. Combine all the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor fit with the chopping blade and process until nearly smooth. Taste, and adjust salt or lemon if needed. Store in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days, or freeze for up to 6 months.