Side Orders: A hummus recipe that's hard to 'beet'

With beets available year-round, Red Beet Hummus is a refreshing dip for warm weather, a tasty dip for fall football parties and its brilliant shade of crimson makes it ideal for upcoming holiday gatherings.

Hummus has become my go-to dip anytime I'm having a party. In fact, I like it so much I've considered having a party just so I can indulge. If you are a fan of hummus and pita chips, then you know what I'm talking about.

I once made hummus myself, but these days, there are many good ones on the market, such as Sabra. Then there's Taziki's Mediterranean Cafe, which makes excellent hummus. You can get it to go at either location: downtown or Hamilton Place.

There's really no point in making it from scratch other than knowing exactly what goes in it. But after so much of it lately, I was looking for something a little bit different. There's avocado hummus; black bean hummus; hummus with caramelized onions; cilantro-jalapeno hummus with a Tex-Mex twist; baba ghanoush - that's just a fun word to say. There's an endless mix of ingredients that can go into different hummus recipes, but none lately had really set my tastebuds on fire.

photo Anne Braly

Then a recent trip to London helped me find what I was looking for. I was perusing a menu at a restaurant right outside the Tower of London when my eyes fell upon beet hummus. Hmmm, I thought. Interesting. This still had the texture of traditional hummus, only with a slight twist of taste and most definitely a different look.

So I placed my order. When it arrived, it looked just as I thought it might. Bright red and creamy and, thank goodness, nothing like the taste of pickled beets. With the addition of tahini, it retained a hummus taste. The beets did not overpower.

I went online and found several recipes, then tweaked them to make it my own, adding a bit more tahini than other recipes called for. I made it for a recent party and was so happy that others liked it as much as I. A couple of people asked for the recipe, and that's always a pretty good indication that it went over well.

It's one of the easiest hummus recipes I've ever tried. The beets must be tender and chilled - the process takes some time but little effort and can certainly be done a day ahead. Then it's just a matter of blending everything together in the food processor. The result is a lovely hummus that adds color to any party spread. With beets available year-round, it's a refreshing dip for warm weather, a tasty dip for fall football parties and its brilliant shade of crimson makes it ideal for upcoming holiday gatherings.

Red Beet Hummus

2 pounds red beets, scrubbed (about 2 large beets)

2 garlic cloves, chopped

2 tablespoons ground coriander

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/2-1 cup tahini, or to taste

Kosher salt

Heat the oven to 425 degrees. In an ovenproof Dutch oven, cover the beets with water and bring to a boil on the stovetop, then keep covered and braise in the oven for about 2 hours, until very tender. Use a knife or fork to test for tenderness, then, with a slotted spoon, transfer the beets to a cutting board. When cool enough to handle, slip off the skins and cut the beets into small, 1-inch pieces, spread them on a baking sheet and refrigerate until cold, about 1 hour.

In a food processor, combine the braised beets with the garlic, coriander and lemon juice, and pulse until finely chopped. With the machine on, slowly drizzle in the olive oil until incorporated and the beet puree is smooth. Scrape into a bowl, and whisk in the tahini. Season with salt, and serve with pita bread.

Go Vols

The 2018 football season is now in full swing, and if you're a fan of the the Tennessee Volunteers, Lodge Cast Iron has your newest souvenir. The company has just released a 10 1/4-inch cast-iron skillet with the famous "T" and the familiar checkerboard map of the state emblazoned on its flip side. This is the first time the company has ventured into collegiate licensing in its 122-year history.

If you're in the South Pittsburg area, you can pick up a skillet at the Lodge Factory Store, 220 E. Third St. Or go online to Skillets are $37 each.

Kick cancer where it counts

Through the end of October, area Logan's restaurants will be selling pink T-shirts through its "Buy Pink Shirts" campaign to support the fight against breast cancer. Servers and other employees will be wearing the shirts, and you can buy one to take home for $12, $5 of which goes directly to the American Cancer Society. There are five locations in the greater Chattanooga area: 3592 Cummings Highway; 504A Northgate Mall in Hixson; 3940 Keith St. in Cleveland; 2584 Battlefield Parkway in Fort Oglethorpe; and 811 Walnut Square Blvd. in Dalton.

Contact Anne Braly at