Golden Beet Hummus

Three things inspired this creation: I love hummus. I love beets. As a chef, I loathe anything that looks like food for My Little Pony... pink hummus automatically initiates my gag reflex. However, as a mom, I must concede using fruits and vegetables creatively to make rainbow-colored foods is a great way to entice children to enjoy more fruits and vegetables. If you'd like to make pink hummus instead of gold, use a red beet.

I cannot take full credit for this recipe. Heidi Swanson inspired me to get off my duff and do something to counter this unicorn craze in pastel food presentations with her version of Golden Beet Hummus. For my first go at it, I used a similar version to Heidi Swanson's with one important distinction... I roasted my beets and garlic to fully enhance their sweetness. I also washed the garbanzo beans in several changes of water. If you're interested in other ways to increase digestibility of beans and some interesting research on their health benefits scroll on down.

This is by far the most creamy and airy hummus I have ever made!

Note: Sometimes I've noticed gastrointestinal discomfort with denser (and also commercial) variations. I experienced NONE of that with this recipe... and I ate a LOT!

Here's what you'll need: (I doubled my batch, which is why you see two cans of beans and more beets further down)

Total Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes. Prep time: 10 minutes (plus an additional 10 minutes if you skin the beans) Cook time: 60 minutes PRINT HERE.

For a generous two cups, you'll need:

I 15-oz can organic garbanzo beans (2 cans are shown in this photo because I doubled the batch)

1 large golden beet (4" in diameter), or a medium and a small, or several small

2 large lemons, squeezed (4-6 Tbsp). If you love lemon, you can add the zest too!

1 large head of garlic (to be roasted), or 4 cloves fresh

1/4 tsp sea salt

2 Tbsp tahini (sesame paste)

1/3 - 1/2 cup ice water

3 Tbsp fortified nutritional yeast* (optional)

pinch of saffron (optional)

3/4 tsp ground turmeric (optional, but it does add to the beautiful color)

* Fortified nutritional yeast is a good source of B vitamins, including vitamin B12. Not all brands of nutritional yeast are fortified, so check the label carefully. Nutritional yeast also lends some body and flavor to this recipe but is not absolutely necessary.

Optional garnishes:

sprinkle of turmeric

sesame seeds (black, white or a mix)

pine nuts

edible flowers (I used bachelor buttons and coriander flowers, but you could also use pansies, violets, nasturtium, pinks, borage)

herbs (thyme, basil, dill, savory, rosemary, coriander, etc)

freshly ground black pepper

chile flakes

smoked salt

garlic chips

extra virgin olive oil

For extra creamy hummus, you will need to remove the skins from the beans. For one can, this is doable. I did this for two cans and started cursing. Then I remembered I have an Audible book downloaded, which helped pass the time. Get your kids to help you... all it takes is a gentle pinch. Alternatively, you can choose to forego this step, but the resulting hummus won't be as creamy.

Yep, I skinned every single bean. Here's another option: put the beans in a large pot or bowl. Cover them with 2-3" of water. Give them a vigorous stir/shake with you hand for a few seconds. This will dislodge some of the skins and they will float to the top. Skim them off and discard to the compost pail. This will at least remove some of the skins. Continue with the next step.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Trim the tops and tail from each beet, wash and dry. Drizzle a bit of olive oil on each beet, then wrap each beet in aluminum foil. Wrap the head of garlic in a piece of aluminum foil too. Place each foil packet on a baking sheet and bake for 45-60 minutes, or until soft to the touch. Alternatively, you can cook the foil-wrapped beets and garlic in a crock-pot (check your specific model recommendations).

I only needed the two larger beets for doubling this recipe, but I had the other two on hand. They were so small... so in they went!

Remove from foil and allow to cool. Using your fingers or a paring knife, gently remove the skin from the beets. Trim any blemishes. Squeeze the roasted garlic into the beans. Add all the ingredients (except garnishes and ice water) into your blender. Add 1/4 cup of the ice water. Blend on high speed. Depending on your blender, you may need to stop and occasionally scrape down the sides and add additional ice water until completely smooth.

The dark orange flecks stuck to the side are bits of saffron. Once satisfied with smooth consistency, remove from blender to a serving dish and add garnishes, or place in a covered container and refrigerate. It will last 3-5 days refrigerated or 6-8 months in the freezer (freeze without garnishes).

During the spring and summer and early fall, I take full advantage of edible flowers and herbs to use for garnishing. This sweet bouquet is coriander (the white flowers of cilantro), lemon thyme and bachelor buttons. Here's a great LIST of edible flowers, their color & flavor profiles and how to use them safely by Melissa Breyer, Managing Editor at treehugger.

I like to serve hummus with my Grilled Vegan Naan Bread and cut up raw vegetables, or spread inside a veggie wrap, inside individual containers for lunchboxes, piped onto cucumber wedges, celery sticks, radishes, carrot slabs, romaine boats, etc. The possibilities are near endless!

Read more about the health benefits of eating beets in this article from Michael Greger, M.D., FACLM at Nutritionfacts.org and this short video on the fascinating phenomenon particular to beans, the so-called "second-meal effect" describing the remarkable ability of beans to lower blood sugar even a day after consumption - how cool is that??

What about sprouting beans? Doesn't this increase their beanie awesomeness. Yes and no. Sprouting beans does increase vitamin C and possibly calcium. Sprouting also increases the digestibility of the protein content and decreases carbohydrates, phytic acid and trypsin inhibitor factor (an enzyme that interferes with the availability of nutrients). Read more about this here. If you need to reduce your carbohydrate intake, sprouting beans first can be a way to help you achieve your goal and still enjoy eating beans.

However, claims that sprouting legumes will protect against and/or fight cancerous cells have not been proven true. Here's an excellent short video from Michael Greger, M.D., FACLM on this topic:

Sprouting beans is easy to do, takes just a little time, but does require some attention, especially in warm environments. I'll be writing more about this in the coming weeks.

So, do I always sprout my beans before eating them? No. I get busy too. I do sprout beans as often as I can. I love the pleasant crunchiness of sprouted lentils tossed on my salad and the increased digestibility that comes with sprouting larger beans before cooking them.

Here are a few other ways to improve the digestibility of beans:

1. Buy dried beans instead of canned. This doesn't save you time, but it will save you money.

2. Soak beans at room temperature for 48 hours. This decreases phytic acid more than just an overnight soak.

3. Change the soaking water frequently. Drain, rinse, drain again, refill. Do this at least 3x per day.

4. Eat beans with fermented foods (kimchi, sauerkraut, cultured dairy or non-dairy cream, tempeh, etc)

5. Cook them with a 2" piece of kombu, a sea vegetable that contains the enzyme to break down oligosaccharides.

The bottom line though, is to incorporate more beans (sprouted or not) into your diet! Now give this hummus a go and tell me what you think.

Nutrition information is for 1/4 cup (4 Tbsp).

When you make this, be sure to take a photo and tag me #chefcatherinebrown. I love seeing what you make!

Disclosures: None. This post was not created in affiliation with any product or brand. The opinions expressed are my own. I will only write about products that I trust and use.

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CatherineeBrown@hotmail.com  603-237-1012  PO Box 253 Errol, NH 03579