Hummus has become one of the staple foods in my family lately. It’s easy to make, easy to pack for picnics or the beach, and a healthy, protein-packed addition to crackers and chips. I usually make a basic hummus with chickpeas, tahini, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, and salt. But I have been hearing a lot about beets lately. Beetroots are a rich source of vitamins A and C, as well as potassium, magnesium, and iron. (Beet greens are full of nutrients too, but that is a topic for another post.)
Since we are growing beets in our garden, and I love beets, I decided to try adding simmered beetroot to my basic hummus recipe. If you love color like I do, just seeing the color of this beetroot hummus makes it worth the effort. It becomes a rich, deep, bright pink. Plus, the beetroot adds extra nutrition and a bit of a sweet taste to the hummus. My husband, daughter and I loved it! My son would not even try it, since he is not a fan of beets, and that is okay too. The beetroot variation is not for everyone, so I have posted recipes below for both that and the basic hummus. Of course there are lots of other variations for hummus. That is what makes experimenting with it so much fun. And in the summer, it’s nice not to have to spend too much time with the stove top and oven heating up the kitchen, so hummus is a great option. In fact, I just took hummus to a picnic yesterday evening. It was so nice to visit with friends while the kids all played in the lake. Eating outdoors with friends and family is one of the best parts of summer.
A reward of weeding around basil plants is that you get to smell the fresh, spicy scent of the basil leaves while you are weeding. At least that is what I was thinking as I was weeding and shooing away mosquitoes yesterday. And one of the best rewards of growing basil is making and eating pesto. Not only does basil smell wonderful, but it tastes great, especially when mixed with garlic, nuts, and Parmesan cheese. The pesto recipe I posted below calls for both basil and parsley, bright green herbs with lots of health benefits. According to www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/266425.php, basil is full of antioxidants, minerals such as magnesium, and vitamins, mainly vitamin A, vitamin K, and vitamin C. Basil also is known to reduce inflammation and to have antibacterial properties. Parsley is very beneficial to eat as well. The website www.nutrition-and-you.com/parsley.html states that parsley is high in minerals like potassium and calcium, and like basil, it has high concentrations of vitamins A, C, and especially K.
Pesto is a great way to get those vitamins and minerals, and it offers variety. You can mix pesto with pasta for a meal, or you can spread it on crackers for a delicious snack. The nuts in the pesto add to its nutritional quality too–they add protein and the “good” (unsaturated) fats. I usually use almonds, but pine nuts are a traditional nut to use, and I have also used walnuts too. Now that basil is in full swing here, we will be using our blender to mix up batches of pesto! Pesto freezes well, but to me it tastes best the day it is made. If you know ahead of time that you are going to freeze it, a fellow food blogger gave me this tip to reduce bitterness when freezing: Leave out the cheese when you are processing the rest of the ingredients, and freeze the pesto without the cheese. Then when you defrost/thaw the pesto, add the cheese.
Happy summer eating!