Around this time of year we start to get a lot of beets in the box. We've been getting better about using up the beet greens in weeknight stir-fries. For the beets themselves, I have tended to roast them and I add them to salads along with celery, carrots, and roasted almonds.
But over the holidays, we were up in Healdsburg for a few days and had a very nice dinner at John Ash in Santa Rosa. One of the courses was, for me, a complete standout. It was roasted beets served over a base of hummus and drizzled with a verjus vinaigrette.
I did a little research and discovered that verjus is the pressed juice of unripe grapes. It is similar to vinegar but the flavor is more subtle and gentle. I have not seen it in the local supermarkets but it can be obtained online for $20-$25. But each brand can have its own taste and it could take one some time and money to find a brand you like.
So I have served this as a side dish a number of times at home since I had it at the restaurant--all the while thinking about how best to bring this recipe to the home cook. You can substitute rice wine or white wine vinegar for the verjus. To make a vinaigrette you want 3 parts vinegar with one part oil. I made the mistake of trying a flavored oil which didn't work at all. You can also use any type of salad dressing that's in the Italian family. Whether it's your own or bottled, you just don't want to overdo the application. The hummus and beets have plenty of flavor. The vinaigrette just heightens the existing flavors. Experiment and find your own preference.
For the beets, you most often will find the classic red beets but golden beets are increasingly available. I used a mix on the night I took the photos. Roasting them together causes the golden beets to turn red. Wash beets thoroughly and cut off the tops and the rat tail-like base. Put them in a roasting pan with just enough water to cover the base of the dish. Cover and place them in a 350 degree oven for an hour. Remove and let cool. When they are cool enough to handle, use your fingers to peel off the skin. Cut them up and they will keep for about a week in the refrigerator.
This is an excellent side dish that is hearty and filling. The hummus keeps it grounded but the beets are subtle, sweet but still earthy. The splashes of Italian dressing adds some brightness.
Roasted Beets on Hummus
- 4-6 beets - roasted, peeled, and diced
- hummus - store bought or homemade
- vinaigrette of choice
- Use a spoon to lay down a bed of hummus
- Spoon some beets over the top
- Drizzle a bit of vinaigrette over the top