My red beet hummus and veggie plate is a stunner, if you ask me. This is how it came to be, and how to make it.
A few weeks ago, we ventured out to the Minneapolis Institute of Art. After seeing a few exhibits, we developed a hunger and a thirst. All we wanted was something small, to tide us over to dinner. We ended up sharing the neat little bento box you see above that we bought at Half Pints, a new snack counter aimed at the Institute’s younger crowd. The “Lunch Box” we selected contained a cute little cheese sandwich with broccoli pesto, pear fruit leather and creamy “pink” beet hummus with veggies. We aren’t the 5 year olds this lunch was designed for, but we might as well be, because we thought it was the perfect healthy and satisfying snack along with a big bottle of mineral water. I often make hummus for us to pack up for lunches and snacks at work. We’ve been around the block with regular chickpea hummus, extra garlicky, white bean and purchased roasted red pepper varieties. Discovering beet hummus gave me the inspiration to add some much-needed variety, vibrant color and a unique flavor to our hummus. The result was gorgeous and is just what we need to provide the brightness and potent superfood fuel we need to help us down the last dregs of winter.
1 medium or large red or golden beet, scrubbed clean, boiled or roasted, peeled, and cut into chunks. Cook’s note: the brilliant color and slightly stronger flavor of red beet is the boldest, while the golden beet’s color turns out slightly subdued when ingredients are combined and the flavor is also more subtle, unless you double the lemon and garlic, like I did–it was zesty!
1 to 2 tablespoons tahini sesame seed paste (optional)
Juice and zest of 1/2 to 1 lemon
1 clove of garlic, minced fine
1.5 teaspoons ground cumin
1 14 ounce can of chickpeas or cannelini beans, rinsed (or dry beans that you’ve picked through and soaked overnight.) When I use chickpeas, I remove their skins so that the hummus will be extra smooth.
A little water
Fresh ground pepper and salt
Optional garnishes: olive oil, cumin or paprika.
Boil or roast and peel the beet, cut it into chunks that will fit in your food processor (I use a Ninja). Pulse beet in processor until smooth, add beans, lemon zest, garlic and cumin and process.
Add tahini (if using) and lemon juice sparingly, one-half teaspoon at a time, pulse hummus until smooth and creamy. Add additional lemon juice or a little water as needed to make the hummus the creaminess you desire. It is best not to go overboard with lemon juice, as the flavor can overpower the beet. Adjust flavor with salt and pepper. Serve with crudites, wedges of pita or crackers. If serving at a party, drizzle with olive oil, and garnish with a pinch of cumin or paprika.
I don’t know about everyone else, but for me, whenever my in laws are visiting, I tend to have an above average number of kitchen mishaps. Take for example, the day a kitchen shelf “leapt” from the wall. It smashed my precious mortar and pestle received as a gift from Bjorn as well as a jar of balsamic reduction which spattered most of the kitchen with a thin layer of sticky brown goo. There were also those blueberry muffins that turned out like hockey pucks the day I invited Val for breakfast a few years back. Most recently, I attempted to make deviled eggs out of some lovely, fresh, farmer’s market eggs, and –the eggs would not peel. When the world hands you eggs that are locally grown, fresh, organic and lovely that —will not peel– make Disheveled Eggs! Disheveled Eggs start by following your favorite approach to making Deviled Eggs, mine being a stiff, simple egg yolk mixture with a little mayo, minced celery or shallot, salt, pepper and a bit of mustard to taste. The key to Disheveled Eggs is to pile on eye-catching, creative and tasty garnishes to disguise and distract from your less-than-perfect peeling and filling of the egg halves. Among my great garnish ideas either used or imagined are thinly sliced radishes, finely chopped chives, sprigs of dill and parsley, thinly sliced baby dill pickles, a tiny spoonful of capers, some flaky tuna or a little smoked salmon, a tiny bubble-tower of salty of caviar, a squirt of Sriracha “Rooster Sauce,” tiny olives, a heavy shake of smoked paprika, or a tiny pile of thinly sliced prosciutto. No matter how much you are sweating it in the kitchen, if you bring this platter of fancifully garnished eggs to table you will receive reactions of awe and delight–trust me. My quick-fix to classic deviled eggs was inspired by James Beard Award winning Canal House Cooks Every Day cookbook by Melissa Hamilton & Christopher Hirsheimer not only did this lovely tome inspire many of my imaginative garnishes, but they finally gave me instructions to cook eggs from soft to medium to hard with reliable results. For the ambitious who prefer to follow a recipe, here is a deviled egg recipe using homemade mayo piped into the egg halves recently posted on Amateur Gourmet. Bon Appetit!
I’ve been missing my blog! We’ve been busy visiting Mexico, hosting visitors, working and waiting for the snow to melt. Here’s a tasty and easy appetizer I made this morning that was inspired by Elsa’s Ham and Asparagus Toasts by Rachael Ray with a few tweaks– I used deli slices of prosciutto and Swiss cheese instead of ground ham and fontina, less butter and smaller slices of bread. These tweaks made the assembly easier, less expensive and more appealing, I think. It is easy to leave the prosciutto off of as many slices as desired to make this appetizer friendly to vegetarians.
1/2 pound thin asparagus spears
1 baguette, cut into 3/4-inch slices
2 tablespoons of butter, melted
2.5 tablespoons grainy Dijon mustard
12 slices of Swiss cheese from the deli, halved
1/4-1/2 pound of thinly sliced prosciutto from the deli
1. Snap the woody ends off of skinny spring asparagus and steam for 2.5 minutes in salted, boiling water, then run the asparagus under cold water to stop the cooking.
2. Slice a baguette into 3/4 inch slices. Arrange the slices on a sheet pan, and toast the slices 6 inches below the broiler in the oven a minute or two.
3. Mix 2 tablespoons melted butter with 2.5 tablespoons of grainy Dijon mustard and brush over the toasted bread.
4. Top each slice with a pile of prosciutto, a halved sprig of asparagus and a half slice of Swiss cheese.
5. Return the sheet pan to the broiler and watch carefully. Remove when cheese is melted. Season with ground black pepper and serve on a platter.
I brought the platter to my family’s weekly Saturday morning coffee gathering, and came home with an empty platter. Success!