Beets can turn just about anything red, from your hands to hummus.
At an Easter brunch on Sunday filled with homemade bread, fresh salads, fluffy egg strata, cochinita pibil and a mess of scrambled eggs for breakfast tacos, I met Katie Breihan, an Austinite who clips recipes from the paper and hangs them on her kitchen cabinets for inspiration.
Even with all those scene-stealing dishes, Breihan’s contribution — a bright purple beet hummus dip made with Northern beans instead of chickpeas — stood out, not only for its color but its rich, creamy, garlicky flavor. As we awaited the official start of the meal, guests couldn’t get enough of this magenta dip, and as soon as I tracked down its creator, I asked for her recipe.
(Let’s take a moment here to talk about the word “hummus.” After this piece ran in the food section today, I had several people point out to me that if you use Northern beans and not chickpeas, you have not made hummus. You could easily use chickpeas instead of Northern beans for this hummus-inspired dip, but I wanted to acknowledge that we’re using the term “hummus” loosely here.)
Breihan, who was inspired to make this from a similar puree served at the Hye Market outside Johnson City, walked me through the steps, explaining that she usually roasts beets with the skin on, but this time she tried peeling them first so that the root vegetable would soak up the garlic and thyme as it roasted. When you peel the beets after they’ve roasted, you remove that outer layer of flavor, she reckoned, and sure enough, when she peeled them ahead of time, all of that garlic, thyme and olive oil seeped in. All that was left to do was give them a quick spin in the Cuisinart with a little extra garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, tahini and Northern beans, another twist that surely added to this dish’s appeal.
We love hearing from readers about what they are making in their kitchens. Each week in Austin360Cooks, we feature a home cook’s recipe, either one that is submitted via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or something that comes in through social media. Add the #Austin360Cooks hashtag to your posts so we can find them and add them to our Storify gallery (below), and we’ll do the rest. Happy cooking!
3-4 large beets, preferably red
2 sprigs thyme
1/4 tsp. rubbed sage
3 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
6 cloves garlic, chopped and divided
Juice from 1/2 lemon
1 Tbsp. tahini
1 (15 oz.) can Northern beans or chickpeas
Salt, to taste
Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Skin the beets with a vegetable peeler and chop into quarters. Place on a roasting sheet with the thyme, sage, a tablespoon of oil and about 2/3 of the chopped garlic. Cover with foil and roast until soft, about 40 minutes.
Place the roasted beets in a food processor along with the remaining garlic and olive oil, as well as the lemon juice. Pulse until pureed and add the tahini, beans and a hearty pinch of salt. Pulse to combine, and then taste. Add additional salt, lemon juice or garlic to taste. Makes about 3 cups. Serve with sliced baguette.
— Katie Breihan