Beetroot is one of my all time favourite vegetables and I just can’t get enough of its earthy sweetness. Sure, it’s messy to prepare but don’t let that put you off. As you will probably know, hummus – a thick paste made from ground chickpeas, tahini, olive oil, lemon and garlic – originally came from the Middle East but I first tasted it served amongst several mezzes at a little seaside taverna on the tiny island of Paxos in Greece. It’s since become a regular addition at our table simply because it’s so easy to make and providesomething healthy to serve up for a quick lunch with warm wholemeal pittas and chopped fresh vegetables. Although the basis of my hummus is always chickpeas and tahini, I’m not afraid to include other ingredients to give it a seasonal twist such as this one which features slow roasted beetroot and herbs.
3 medium beetroots, washed, unpeeled and cut into quarters
Extra-virgin olive oil
250g good quality dried chickpeas, soaked overnight in plenty of water
2 cloves of garlic, peeled
30g fresh mint, picked
2 tbsp of tahini
Juice 1-2 large lemons
Pinch of ground cumin
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to your taste
Fresh mint, finely chopped, to garnish
How I make it
Heat an oven to 200C. Place the prepared beets on a baking tray, drizzle with a generous glug of olive oil and sprinkling of sea salt. Roast for around an hour until the beets are soft. When cooked, remove the beets from the oven and leave to one side to cool then, wearing some kinky latex gloves, gently slide the skins off and chop into small pieces.
Meanwhile, drain the soaked chickpeas and pick out any that appear damaged. Tip into a large saucepan and cover with plenty of water. Bring to the boil, partially cover and simmer for five minutes. Skim off the foam and then add the bicarbonate of soda and watch it go bonkers. This may seem a bit mad but it an important part of the process because it helps to soften the peas. Skim off the foam, partially cover again and simmer for between 30-40 minutes, skimming often, until the peas are soft. Drain the peas over a large bowl because you need to save around 250ml of the cooking liquor.
Immediately tip the peas in to a food processor with the cooking liquor, chopped beets and the garlic, and blitz until you achieve your preferred consistency, adding more liquid if you need to – I like mine quite coarse.
Add the remaining ingredients and blitz again. Taste, season and add more lemon juice if you like.
Turn into a large bowl and cover with cling film straight away (this will prevent a skin forming as the hummus cools). When you’re ready to serve, garnish with finely chopped mint leaves.