Roasted Beet Hummus

Denial is a weird thing because you always deny it's happening to you even when it's happening to you and that's why they call it denial. I got back from vacation in Orlando to find that the local weather has reverted to nasty winter habits in terms of temperatures and grey skies and sudden onslaughts of snow and slush that nobody acknowledges and so nobody is prepared for. After touring orange groves and lying flat on a fluffy beach trying to defend myself against the seagulls who wanted my picnic lunch, coming home and having to wear a wool coat seemed like a bad joke. The first day back to work I stubbornly wore sandals and neglected to bring a the end of the day we got three inches of fresh snow on the ground and more sifting down every moment like some kid really heavy-handed with the powdered sugar sifter. My skin and my soul ate up Florida's sunshine and I was thriving under that golden embrace. I crave that now and every morning I wake up anxious to see if the sun has returned and, with it, temperatures that will allow for me to expose as much skin to her rays as is decent. I need the warmth of the sun, honestly. My grandmother (who I recently wrote about in a post that resonated with so many more of you than I expected) was hospitalized with the flu while we were on vacation. The day after the family returned, she moved in with us permanently and began hospice care. I'm sad - of course I'm sad - but for now, despite it all, she is with us and that is something to celebrate.
One result of her cancer medication and oxygen deficiency is a loss of her sense of taste and smell. Nevertheless, last week in the hospital I brought her a plain piece of classic cheesecake and she ate almost the entire slice even though she had just finished lunch. I think it comforted her.
"I can't taste it, but it feels like it tastes good, darling," she told me. "Thank you."
As we talked, I told her I was heading home to make French onion soup. She said that French onion soup is her favorite and even though, as with the cheesecake, Grandmama will not be able to taste the soup, I'm going to make her some. These are small things you can do in the face of something you don't know how to respond to. Sometimes food is about eating, and sometimes food is about saying silent things. Today's recipe is also about saying silent things. I made roasted beet hummus last night as part of a "favorite color" art collaboration. My partner and I were assigned the task of creating a piece of art incorporating our favorite colors - pink and purple, respectively. Beets have become a favorite of mine in the last year. Their childish abundance of color never fails to delight me. It was only after I'd decided on this magenta dip as my contribution to the prompt that I saw a deeper side (no pun intended) to this little underground hero. In the middle of a cold, inhospitable, difficult season (winter) these humble roots (which have spent the last months half-frozen, buried in grey soil) yield a splash of incomprehensibly bright fuchsia. They are a reminder to me that confusion, frustration, grief, and need are all soil-grey winter things that do eventually yield to a summer of brightness, and beauty, and playfulness. A year is not all winter, and a life is not all goodbyes. The sun is coming and even while it snows, I'm waiting for it with stubborn sandals and bared skin.
PS: I like to serve this with radishes especially because the slight peppery bite of the radish nicely off-sets the sweetness that the beets lend to the hummus! Would also be excellent with savory crackers or on toast with some harissa olive oil.

Roasted Beet Hummus
makes about two cups

2 small beets, roasted
1 can (15 oz) chickpeas, drained and skinned
4 Tablespoons lime juice
1/4 cup olive oil
5 tablespoons tahini
2 teaspoons chopped garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

  1. Roast your beets by drizzling them with olive oil, wrapping them in tin foil, and roasting at 375 degrees F. for an hour or until a knife goes in and out easily. Cool the beets and rub off the skin before continuing with the rest of the recipe
  2. In a food processor or high-powered blender, blend up the roasted beets. Add the chick peas, lime juice, olive oil, tahini, and garlic and blend till smooth. If your hummus is looking too thick or rough, add an additional tablespoon of lime juice and a splash of water till desired consistency is achieved.
  3. Sprinkle in salt, black pepper, and cumin and blend once more, adjusting seasonings according to preferences. Serve immediately with chopped veggies and crackers, or store in airtight container for up to one week.

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