Mediterranean food is my go to healthy food option. Although they do have the occasional ghee rice and meaty kababs, a lot of their appetizers and shared platters are generally very healthy, and so delicious too! For example, we have marinated feta, marinated olives, pickled veggies, Baba Gonoush ( mashed eggplant) and my personal favorite, Hummus. Hummus is one of the most versatile appetizers dishes out there. I mean you can make it any way you like, just as long as there are chickpeas involved, it never disappoints. Recently I have started to find healthier snacks to help me get through my day, and this lusciously pink Beet Root Hummus is truly one of my snack time favorites.
Beetroots are such a good source of antioxidants and vitamins that it really is an all rounder vegetable. I found that recently, my desire and love for vegetables has risen to a freakishly high level. If you asked me to have beets around 4 years ago, I would choose to rather not eat! I don't know what happened, but beetroots have become a favorite, and is the perfect addition to all my dishes. Beets are quite tough when it's raw, so for this dish, I simply boiled the life out of these beets and mashed them up with the rest of the ingredients and voila!
Garlic is such an addictive, yet fascinating ingredient, that I think there are very few dishes to which I wouldn't add a hint of it. To be honest, it really is quite confusing how something that is so pungent, and that usually leaves us with a bad breath, can make food taste absolutely amazing. If I haven't praised it enough already, then I really should say that if garlic is good, then roasted garlic is just mind-numbingly tasty. I remember I made this simple salad for this summer bbq once: just tomatoes, greens, avocados, cilantro, and the secret ingredient was roasted garlic. The reaction I got just left me speechless--I mean everyone devoured it within minutes. Roasting the garlic not only gets rid of the strong acidic smell but also brings out the sweetness and caramelized essence of the ingredient. It really is a sin to refuse roasted garlic, so definitely give it a go.
Tahini, which is a sesame seed paste, gives this amazing creamy and nuttiness that hummus seems incomplete without it. It is one of those classic additions to Mediterranean cooking that gives this tenderness to the dish. Generally I love the combination of tahini, chili, and lime juice--it's so good that it could basically be a dish in itself. Hummus is a very dense and creamy appetizer, so lime juice and chili are essential to give the dish some relief. Maybe it's just me, but whenever I buy store bought hummus, I always have to add some lime, chili, and greek yogurt to cut through all the fattiness but also give it that kick that makes you want to go back for more.
I love having hummus with anything and sometimes just by itself too. Homemade crackers are the classic pair but using it as a sandwich spread works quite well too. The recipe is super simple and very delicious!
1 400g can of chickpeas 4 tsp tahini 1 whole bulb of garlic 2 tsp crushed sea salt 6 tbsp quality extra virgin olive oil (plus extra for garnish) Juice of half a lemon (1/4 cup of juice) 2 tsp paprika (optional) Chopped coriander or parsley (optional for garnish) 1 tsp chili flakes 2 beets chopped (around 2-2.5 cups)
STEPS The first step is to boil water in a pot on medium-high heat and preheat your oven to 380 degrees Fahrenheit. Then add your beetroot to the boiling water, add 1 tbsp salt and let it boil for 30 minutes. I would recommend chopping your beets and then placing them in boiling water, as it is a much quicker process. While your beets boil, take the whole bulb of garlic, slice off the top/root faced side and place it on a piece of aluminum foil. Using the aluminum, wrap the garlic into a ball, leaving the top open, so it doesn't steam inside. Pour in about 2 tbsp olive oil, place into heated oven, and let it roast for 30 minutes.
Once completed, place your chickpea, tahini, lime juice, salt, pepper, beets, half a cup of the beet water, paprika and chili flakes into the food processor. Now take the bulb of garlic, and starting from the pointy end just squeeze out the mushy goodness right into the processor. At this point, we want to start the processor, and while it's running, pour in the olive oil slowly so it evenly incorporates with the rest of the ingredients. Once your ingredients have blended nicely into a smooth mixture, taste to see if you like the balance of flavors. If you don't have a food processor, you could easily substitute with a blender. However, if you aren't able to pour the oil in while blending, then I would suggest blending everything except the olive oil at first and then slowly incorporate it in little amounts. Adjust to your liking and serve with crackers or veggie sticks and enjoy the healthiest snack ever!
Although I didn't garnish my bowl of hummus today, I do recommend drizzling over some fresh olive oil and garnishing with some chopped parsley or coriander to serve.