I love cooking with beetroot.  It deserves it’s superstar status as a superfood with it’s earthy deliciousness.  This beetroot houmous is not only extremely moreish but a stunning magenta colour that that looks as beautiful as it tastes.  Serve it as a prelude to supper with some healthy crudités, crunchy tortillas or even better, herby pitta toasts.  Its extremely addictive so make lots!

BEETROOT HOUMOUS

Serves Six

Four globes of beetroot (about 400g weight)
1 tin chickpeas (400g)
Three tablespoons tahini paste
Clove Garlic
Juice 1 lemon
Cold water
Salt & Pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
Fresh coriander

Pre-heat oven to about 200C.

Wash the beetroot. Wrap in an oiled piece of kitchen foil and roast in the oven for around an hour or until tender and soft. Cool. Skin the beetroot and put into a food processor. Blitz until becoming a puree. Add half the tin of chickpeas, the crushed clove of garlic, half the lemon juice, the tahini paste and a splash of cold water. Blitz again until well blended. Add a little more water if it is rather solid. Add a good lot of seasoning and more chickpeas. How many you add is up to you. Blend again and taste.

You may prefer a smooth houmous or one that has more texture.   Adjust the flavour with more lemon juice, seasoning and maybe more tahini. Add a couple of tablespoons of the extra-virgin olive oil and blitz again.

Serve in a beautiful coloured bowl with more oil drizzled over and lots of finely chopped coriander sprinkled over the top.

Extras: Grate in a little bit of the rind of an orange (a little goes a long way) and add a teaspoon of freshly roast and ground cumin seed for a different flavour.

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Here is another idea for using beetroot.  (I’m quite addicted to it at the moment so we seem to be eating rather a lot of it).  This salad is perfect as a starter or just a lovely lunch.  You can pile it up prettily individual plates but more often than not I just present it in one large bowl and pass it around the table so that people can help themselves.
beetroot houmous
BEETROOT AND CARROT SALAD with HARISSA and MINTED YOGHURT DRESSING
Serves Four 

250g small carrots (baby or chantenay)
Four beetroot (or eight very small)
1 dessertspoon of harissa paste
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Squeeze honey
A little lemon juice
Salt and pepper
1 tsp. fennel, toasted and crushed
50g toasted chopped walnuts
Fresh Rocket
4 tablespoons cooked puy lentils, tossed in a little oil and lemon juice
Handful of fresh mint
1 lemon
Four tablespoons natural yoghurt

Pre-heat the oven to 220c (200c fan oven)

Cut the carrots into small lengths.   Peel the beetroot and cut into small chunks. Take a shallow roasting tin. Mix the harissa, oil, lemon juice and honey.   Toss through the beetroot and carrot and turn into the roasting tin.   Add seasoning and roast for 30 – 40 minutes until well roasted. Remove from the oven.

Allow to cool a bit for a few minutes. Toss into a bowl and mix with the lentils, walnuts and rocket. Check the seasoning. Mix the yoghurt with lots of mint and lemon juice. Season to taste Pile onto plates and drizzle over the minted yoghurt or serve that separately.

HERBY PITTA CRISPS

One pack of white pitta bread
Light olive oil
Fresh thyme, finely chopped
Sea salt & black pepper

Pre-heat oven to 180c Cut the pitta in half horizontally and then cut each into even strips. Brush each with olive oil (or just use one of those spray bottles) and sprinkle with finely chopped thyme and season.  Bake in the oven for about eight minutes or until a pale golden brown.  Cool on a wire rack and store in a tin.  They will keep for about a week.