This is a nice variation on traditional hummus with a pretty spectacular colour. It came about from having tahini, walnuts and raw beetroot lying around and a bit of googling. The same googling led me to a website devoted to the love of beetroot, which includes sections with challenging titles such as ‘you think you know beetroot?’.I’m not sure how many people they expect will answer this in the affirmative. Here I learnt of the apparently ancient connection between beetroot and prostitution, not exactly what I was expecting . Apparently paintings of beetroot decorated the rooms in the brothels at Pompei. I went there as a 16 year old but can’t say I noticed the beetroot as we were too busy keeping lookout for our teachers so they didn’t catch us looking at dirty ancient frescoes (I was a deeply rebellious teenager clearly). Further on I discover ‘taking favours in the beetroot fields’ is a WWII euphemism for visiting prostitutes. All this is used by way of explaining that beetroot is ‘the food of love’. I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions on that one.
Moving on from odd beetroot facts you never needed to know, this recipe is adapted from Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s ‘River Cottage Every Day’. It is fairly potent stuff, a little goes a long way but it keeps very well in the fridge (about a week by my count). I roasted my beetroot, but you could easily make this with the pre-cooked stuff as long as it isn’t pickled. This makes a cereal bowlful sized portion,probably enough for 4-6 as a starter with flat bread.
- 200g beetroot (around 3-4 raw beetroot).
- 50g walnuts
- 25g crusty bread torn into pieces or bread crumbs
- 1 tablespoon tahini
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
- Wrap the beetroot in tinfoil and roast at 200C for approximately one hour until soft.
- You can check either by squeezing the tinfoil to see if it gives way a bit, or unwrapping and checking with a knife.
- Toast the walnuts either in the oven on a baking sheet for 5-7 minutes or on a frying pan until aromatic and starting to colour.
- When the beetroot is cooked, or if using cooking beetroot, put everything but the olive oil in a blender, or food processor and puree.
- Stir in the olive oil to taste after.