Beet-Centric Hummus Plate

Beet-Centric Hummus Plate by Jessie May

I have no recollection of encountering a beet until a few years ago. After seeing them at the grocery store more frequently in my adult life, I began to classify them as the funny-root-things I would probably never buy. It was all very grown up and civil, my relationship with these colorful ground dwellers. Until one day while living in Denver, I was possessed enough by the cold to roast up some new-to-me vegetables, and had grabbed a bunch of golden beets (the red ones still freaked me out a little). After cubing and roasting, I gave them a taste and thought my goodness these are delicious. Soon after I found myself grabbing lunch at the market’s salad bar and decided I would get crazy and include some raw, shredded red beets too. I devoured my salad and came to the realization I think I love beets!

Fast forward a few years and I am now creating a meal centered entirely around these wonderful, nutritious, and colorful roots. Long gone are the days where I feared these odd and dirty looking veggies. I now welcome stained fingertips once a week as I prep beets throughout the colder seasons (colder being a relative term, California). So here me if you feel put-off by beets. Maybe you had a bad experience, maybe you think they are boring and flavorless, maybe the idea of prepping them scares you too - I’ve been there and ask you to reconsider. Try viewing them as cute, colorful orbs of nutritious deliciousness, and then make this hummus with marinated salad. If you still dislike them, it’s okay, but at least you know. Nothing is worse than missing out on something potentially amazing because you’re afraid of one bad experience. I have years to make up for when it comes to enjoying beets. So consider this my reconciliation plate.

I came up with this recipe last fall when I over bought beets a few weeks in a row at the farmers market. I steamed up big batches and had the idea of tossing a few golden beets into my standard batch of hummus - it ended up tasting like sunshine, yay! We were getting somewhere. Now if I could make red beets a bit more exciting. A marinade! Let’s make it tangy, I thought, with a little sweetness because beets tend to sit on the sweeter side. Playing to their strengths is key, they only have so many. Parsley and caraway go well with beets, so I added them to the marinade too. And red onion - we need some bite. The best way to serve these together? Let’s make a hummus plate and pile it all together with some cubes of toasted sourdough bread, because what is hummus without bread? And now we have a lunch that celebrates beets, highlights their favorable qualities, and is jam packed with nutrition as well as flavor. Consider us reconciled.

Nutritional highlights: Beets are an excellent source of folate and fiber, along with a good punch of iron and vitamin B6 too. They are rich in phytonutrients and are wonderful helpers when it comes to detoxification. Being a root veggie, beets are also very grounding and soothing. Fall tends to be the season where our stress levels increase, thanks to end of the year deadlines and the holiday season. So next time you’re feeling a bit tense, take a deep breath and enjoy some roots :).

Beet-Centric Hummus Plate by Jessie May
Beet-Centric Hummus Plate by Jessie May
Beet-Centric Hummus Plate by Jessie May
Beet-Centric Hummus Plate by Jessie May
Beet-Centric Hummus Plate by Jessie May
Beet-Centric Hummus Plate by Jessie May

Makes 4 servings of salad, with extra hummus. 

golden beet hummus
3 cups cooked chickpeas
1/4 cup pure tahini
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup water, plus extra
2 cloves of garlic
2 small golden beets
salt to taste

marinated red beet salad
4 medium red beets
2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
1 cup loosely packed parsley leaves, left whole
salt to taste

for serving
toasted sourdough bread
hulled pumpkin seeds (pepitas)

Ahead of time, prepare the beets: Preheat the oven to 375F.

Wash and trim the ends of the beets, then slice in half (or quarter if larger) so they are uniform in size. Place the beets in a ceramic baking dish, pour a 1/4 cup of water into the dish, and tightly seal with aluminum foil. Place in the oven and steam-roast until fork tender. Depending on size this can take between 30 minutes and an hour (mine took the entire hour).

Once cooked, let cool slightly until they are comfortable to handle, and slip the skins off of the beets. Use a vegetable peeler if they are giving you trouble. When the beets have cooled, pack away in airtight glass containers and chill in the refrigerator until ready to use in the following recipes.

Note: the red beets will release their juice when baking and slightly stain the golden beets. If you would like to avoid this, bake in separate dishes. I cook up a few servings of beets in both colors at once, and save the extras for other meals. 

Make the hummus: Place all of the ingredients for the hummus in the bowl of a food processor and blend until smooth. Adding more water as needed (I always do). Use right away, or make ahead of time and store in a glass jar in the fridge. It will keep for one week.

Make the salad: Quarter the cooked, peeled, and cooled red beets and cut into 1/2 inch slices. Place in a mixing bowl and top with the champagne vinegar, orange juice, lemon juice, and a few pitches of fine sea salt. Run a knife through the caraway seeds a few times, then add to the bowl with the beets as well. Thinly slice the red onion in half moon shapes (I use a mandolin). Add the onion and whole parsley leaves to the bowl and toss.

Set the salad in the fridge to marinate for as little as 15 to 30 minutes, or wrap up and leave overnight. If storing for more than 4 hours I recommend holding back the parsley leaves and adding when you are ready to serve.

Build the plates: Spread a few spoonfuls of the golden beet hummus to cover the surface of your chosen plate. Sprinkle with a pinch of whole caraway seeds, and place a few pieces of toasted sourdough bread around the plate. Scoop the marinated red beet salad into the center of the plate, and add a few more cubes of toasted bread. Sprinkle with pepita seeds and enjoy.