Sunday, 11 October 2009

Beetroot Hummous with Wilted Greens, Feta and Lemon

Blood, iron, rubies and cold water running over pebbles come to mind as I fall like a deprived vampire on this earthy feast. Sorry to come over all po-hetical, but the mysterious deliciousness of brilliant-cerise beetroot hummous piled on dark, lemony greens sends my brain-buds into rhapsodies.

Beetroot Hummous with Wilted Greens, Feta and Lemon
And do you like this gorgeous red-glass plate? (Er, it might actually be yours, because I can't remember ever having bought it, and found it in my cupboards during a turf-out. If it is yours, may I keep it?) The red of this dish was so intense that my cheapie camera couldn't cope with it, which is why this picture looks rather redly surreal.

I developed this recipe by combining two dishes I  have so enjoyed this year: Mike Karamanof's fresh beetroot greens with olive oil dressing, and the lovely beetroot, cumin and garlic dip my sister Sophie made me last time I was in Cape Town.

I've added chickpeas and tahina to the beetroot to make a more substantial dip, and feta cheese to the greens for a lovely, creamy and salty contrast.  Any sort of dark, leafy green will do for this recipe: I used a combination of Swiss chard and beetroot greens, but it would also be good with baby spinach leaves, pak choy, or similar.

If you don't feel like eating wilted greens, make up a batch of beetroot hummous, anoint with a good slick of olive oil and cover with cling film. It will last up to four days in the fridge, and is just heavenly spread on toast, piled on a baked potato or spooned directly from the dish into your mouth, for breakfast.

I  haven't given exact quantities here: taste the dish as you go along. This dish is best served warm.

Beetroot Hummous with Wilted Greens, Feta and Lemon

For the hummous:
6 medium-sized beetroot bulbs, untrimmed
6 fat cloves fresh garlic, unpeeled
salt and milled black pepper
a little olive oil for baking
1 Tbsp (15 ml) tahina (sesame-seed paste)
a can of chickpeas, drained of their liquid
1 and 1/2 tsp (7.5 ml) freshly ground cumin
the juice of a lemon
about 125 ml (half a cup) olive oil

For the greens:
a large bunch of young Swiss chard, baby spinach, beetroot greens or similar
the juice of a lemon
olive oil
salt and milled black pepper
feta cheese

First make the hummous. Preheat the oven to 180° C. Lightly scrub the beetroot bulbs to remove any grit, but don't trim or peel them. Put them, and five cloves of unpeeled garlic, on a large sheet of tin foil. Add a pinch of salt and a grinding of pepper, and drizzle over a little olive oil. Fold up the edges of the foil and seal tightly to make a loose parcel. Place the parcel in the hot oven and bake for an hour or two (the time will depend on the age of your beetroot) or until the beetroot is quite soft when pierced with a sharp knife.

Trim off the tails and stalks of the beetroot. Cut into cubes and place in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade (if you're making  the hummous on its own, reserve half a beetroot, and a few chickpeas, for garnishing).  Squeeze the softened garlic cloves out of their papery casings and add to the food processor bowl along with the tahina, chickpeas, cumin, lemon juice and half  (about 60 ml) of the olive oil. Blitz the mixture, at high speed, to a purée, adding just enough extra olive oil to create a smooth, thick paste.   Season with salt and pepper, to taste.  If the hummous needs a little more zing, add another squeeze of lemon juice. Decant into a bowl. (If you're serving this as a dip on its own, top with the finely diced reserved beetroot, a few whole chickpeas, a dusting of cumin and/or cayenne pepper and olive oil.) Cover with clingfilm and set aside.

Now prepare the greens. Heat a big saucepan, wok or frying pan. Trim away any very thick stalks (but leave all the slender remaining stalks on). Rinse the leaves well under cold running water, give them a good shake, and put them, with water still clinging to their leaves, in the hot pan. Cook for seven to ten minutes, tossing frequently, or until the stalks are tender ( but have a little crunch remaining) and most of the liquid has evaporated. Don't worry if the greens begin to lose their fresh green colour as the stalks cook: this is vegetable dish, not a salad!  Remove from the heat, drain off any remaining liquid and dress with lemon juice and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and toss well.

Swirl the the greens onto a warmed platter and crumble over the feta cheese.  Pile the warm beetroot hummous on top.

Lovely with fresh bread for mopping up the juices.

Serves 6 as a starter or 8 as a side salad.

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Nina Timm said...

Aaahh, another easy beetroot recipe I can make. I love the stuff!!! Yes, it is ok to keep the red plate!!!

The Woman said...

Oh my, this looks amazing! The red almost glistens.

Jeanne said...

Even I could force down some beetroot if it came in this delicious format!!

Rose&Thorn said...

What a clever idea! I have to make this, and no the plate isn't mine but don't expect it back if I ever get my hands on it!