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Green Asparagus with Beet and Chickpea Hummus

Green Asparagus with Beet and Chickpea Hummus

Pink and spring green! Today’s dish celebrates this vibrant colour combination and I can’t really say that I expected the result to taste that good. My green asparagus stalks found a perfect companion in a screaming pink hummus. I adjusted its colour and taste by adding a generous amount of boiled beetroots. At first I was worried that the roots’ earthy tones would dominate, so I started with one root for a small can of chickpeas. But there was no need to worry. The beetroot easily found its place in the nutty dip, in fact, it’s a fine sweetness that comes through the most.

Before the roots kicked in, I used my basic hummus recipe to start with. It perfectly balances out the flavours of chickpeas, rich tahini, sour lemon, and the punch of fresh garlic and ground cumin. It was a recently published cookbook that inspired my to turn my hummus pink. Joel MacCharles and Dana Harrison’s book called Batch, a comprehensive collection of pantry recipes, caught my attention and made me wish I had a whole room and not just a shelf to store my jars of preserved goods. Their book covers various methods for canning, dehydrating, fermenting, cellaring, salting, smoking, and infusing. As I thumbed through the pages, I noticed that there are still a lot of preserving techniques I have to learn more about. I cook my own jams and chutneys, preserve my gherkins, lemons and other fruits and vegetables, I learned to make gravad lax from my mother (a recipe that comes to use at least once a year), but I’ve never made my own sauerkraut or smoked mussels.

Batch is a book that needs time and attention, a book that gives you lots of basic recipes to follow and not to experiment with. It’s about learning the right techniques to be able to fill the shelves in your pantry with pride and satisfaction. However, the duo also included quite a few creations that allow you to play with your preserving results and be creative. In the beet chapter, Joel and Dana write about a pink beet hummus, which is different to mine: they don’t add chickpeas, it’s the pure red root that shines. Below you can find both recipes, my chickpea and beet hummus and Joel and Dana’s pure beet hummus. Try both and enjoy. I just love my chickpeas. But don’t forget to add green asparagus cooked al dente, it’s too good. And use the leftover dip to spread on dark spelt bread.

Green Asparagus with Beet and Chickpea Hummus


Green Asparagus with Beet and Chickpea Hummus

Green Asparagus with Beet and Chickpea Hummus

Serves 3-4

For the beet and chickpea hummus

medium to large beetroots, unpeeled, 2
bay leaves 2
olive oil 2 teaspoons
drained and rinsed canned chickpeas, 240g / 1 1/3 cups
tahini 150g / 5 ounces
water 120ml / 1/2 cup
freshly squeezed lemon juice 6 tablespoons
garlic, crushed, 2 large cloves
ground cumin 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon
fine sea salt about 1 1/4 teaspoons

green asparagus, the bottoms cut off, 1kg / 2 1/4 pounds
olive oil
flaky sea salt
white sesame seeds

Bring a medium pot of salted water to the boil. Add the beetroots (with their skin) and bay leaves, cover with a lid, and cook the roots over medium heat (simmering) for about 45-55 minutes or until tender. Rinse with cold water and let cool for a few minutes. Peel the roots and weigh 200g / 7 ounces, use any remaining beetroot for another recipe. Using a food processor or blender, purée the beetroots and 2 teaspoons of olive oil until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

For the hummus, using the same food processor or blender, purée the chickpeas, tahini, water, lemon juice, garlic, cumin, and salt until smooth. Add half the puréed beetroot to the hummus and purée until well combined. Add more puréed beet until the hummus has the desired taste. I added the whole 200g / 7 ounces of beet. Add more lemon juice, salt, and cumin to taste.

Cook the asparagus in plenty of salted water for about 3 minutes or until al dente, rinse briefly with cold water, drain, and transfer to a large plate or divide between the plates. Serve warm or cold, drizzle the asparagus with a little olive oil, and sprinkle with sesame and salt. Dollop a few teaspoons of the hummus over the green stalks and enjoy!

Alternative beet hummus recipe:

Joel MacCharles and Dana Harrison’s Beet Hummus 

from Batch, published by appetite by Random House

Serves 2-3

garlic, peeled, 3 cloves
tahini 120ml / 1/2 cup
ground cumin 2 teaspoons
sesame oil 2 teaspoons
fresh lemon juice 2 tablespoons (add more if you wish)
canned beetroots 1l / 1 quart-jar (you can find a recipe for pressure canned beets in the book, but you can also use my recipe above to boil the beets)
beet stock (preserving / boiling liquid) 60ml / 1/4 cup
olive oil (optional)

Place the garlic in a blender and chop until fine.

Add the tahini, cumin, sesame oil, and lemon juice to the blender. Scrape the sides to make sure the garlic is incorporated and blend for 10 seconds.

Add the beets and blend until smooth. Add the beet stock, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the hummus achieves the texture you like (you may not use the whole 60ml / 1/4 cup or you may have to add more). Chill in the fridge for a few minutes before eating (optional). Serve in a bowl and a drizzle of olive oil.

Green Asparagus with Beet and Chickpea Hummus


Green Asparagus with Beet and Chickpea Hummus


Green Asparagus with Beet and Chickpea Hummus


Green Asparagus with Beet and Chickpea Hummus


Green Asparagus with Beet and Chickpea Hummus


Green Asparagus with Beet and Chickpea Hummus

Spicy Harissa Lentils with Lemon Tahini and Sweet Onions

Spicy Red Lentils with Tahini and Harissa

A friend of ours gave us a large bottle of tahini which he brought back to Berlin from his latest trip to Israel. Guy knows how much we love this oily sesame paste and it wasn’t the first time that he brought some for us from one of his trips to the Middle East. This time, he announced solemnly that this Blue Dove Tahina is the best tahini ever. Unfortunately, I can’t read anything that’s written on it, apart from Quality Since 1921, the rest is in Arabic and Hebrew, but Guy told me that it’s not actually from Israel but from Palestine. If only people could forget about borders as easily as food does when it travels.

So, our special Tahina deserved some special recipes. Hummus came first, enjoyed only with some soft chunks of a white loaf of bread dipped into the velvety creaminess. We sprinkled a few pieces of the bread with the pure tahini paste and agreed that it’s so good that it doesn’t really need any addition, pure on bread – that’s perfection! However I couldn’t stop myself from coming up with another delicious way of making use of it: I whisked together a thick, oily sauce made of tahini, garlic roasted in olive oil and lemon juice – it’s divine. Then, I cooked red lentils in my  homemade vegetable broth and mixed it with spicy harissa, I drizzled the tahini sauce all over it and finished it off with onions, cooked until they were juicy, golden brown and almost as sweet as candy.

This recipe has been featured by Food52!

Spicy Red Lentils with Tahini and Harissa


Spicy Red Lentils with Tahini and Harissa

Spicy Harissa Lentils with Tahini and Sweet Onions

Serves 2

For the lentils

red lentils 200g / 7 ounces
vegetable broth (unsalted) 1/2l / 2 cups plus 1 tablespoon
fine sea salt
ground pepper
olive oil 1 tablespoon

For the topping

olive oil
onions, cut in half and thinly sliced, 2
a pinch of sugar
black peppercorns, crushed in a mortar
fresh parsley leaves 12

For the tahini sauce

olive oil 3 tablespoons
garlic, cut into tiny cubes, 2 large clove
tahini 1 1/2 tablespoons
freshly squeezed lemon juice 1-2 teaspoon
a pinch of fine sea salt

In a large heavy pan, bring the lentils and broth to a boil and simmer on medium heat for about 8 minutes or until the lentils are al dente. Stir in 1 teaspoon of harissa and 1 tablespoon of olive oil, season with salt and pepper.

While the lentils are cooking, heat a splash of olive oil in a heavy pan and cook the onions on medium heat for a few minutes until golden brown and soft, stir in a pinch of sugar.

For the tahini sauce, heat the olive oil and garlic in a small saucepan and cook on medium heat for about 1 minute or until the garlic is golden but not dark. Take the saucepan off the heat and pour the garlic oil into a bowl. Whisk in the tahini, 1 teaspoon of lemon juice and salt, season to taste.

Divide the lentils between plates, sprinkle with the tahini sauce, a little more harissa (optional), crushed pepper and parsley. Enjoy!

Spicy Red Lentils with Tahini and Harissa


Spicy Red Lentils with Tahini and Harissa




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