Hummus II

Butterbean hummus with red pepper and walnut paste

I usually make butterbean paste with dried beans that have been soaked and then boiled, because I can then use the cooking liquor to thin out the spread, if need be. Here, however, to make up for the extra effort involved in making the red pepper paste, I’ve gone for a shortcut version with tinned beans. Serves six to eight.

6 red peppers
8 whole garlic cloves
2 mild red chillies
1 tbsp picked thyme leaves
60g walnut halves, lightly roasted and roughly chopped
¼ tsp sweet smoked paprika 
½ tsp tomato paste
2 tsp balsamic vinegar

For the butterbean hummus
100ml olive oil
1 garlic clove, skin on, lightly crushed 
3 thyme sprigs
2 tins butterbeans, rinsed and drained (470g net weight)

Heat the oven to 220C/425F/gas mark 7. Put the peppers, the eight whole garlic cloves and chillies on a large oven tray lined with baking paper and roast for 20 minutes. Transfer the chillies and garlic to a bowl, cover with cling-film and set aside, then roast the peppers for another 15 minutes, until the skin is blackened. Add to the bowl with the chilli and garlic and, once cool enough to handle, peel and discard the skins from the peppers, garlic and chillies. Discard the seeds and stems from the peppers and chillies, and put the flesh in a food processor with the peeled garlic cloves, the thyme leaves and a half-teaspoon of salt. Blitz to a rough paste, spoon into a medium bowl and stir in half the walnuts, the smoked paprika, tomato paste and vinegar.

For the hummus, heat the oil in a small saucepan on a medium flame, then very gently fry the crushed garlic clove and thyme sprigs for two to three minutes, until the garlic starts to caramelise. Discard the garlic and set aside two teaspoons of the cooking oil and the thyme sprigs. Tip the remaining oil from the pan into a food processor with the beans, two tablespoons of water and half a teaspoon of salt. Blitz until the mix has the consistency of hummus, adding a little more water if needed. Spread out on a large plate, creating a natural rim around the edge, then spoon the red pepper sauce into the centre. Sprinkle over the remaining nuts, scatter over the crisp thyme sprigs, drizzle with the remaining oil and serve.

Roast beetroot garlic hummus

Roast beetroot garlic hummus swirled on a plate

You can make a quick version of this with ready-cooked beetroot, canned chickpeas and raw garlic, blitzed to a purée in a food processor, but this version has more depth for when you have the time. Roasting the beetroot, garlic and chickpeas together is unusual but gives a sweet, mellow quality. You will need some warm flatbread or hot toast on the side. The hummus keeps well enough for a day or two in the fridge, tightly covered with clingfilm.

Makes enough for 8
chickpeas 2 x 400g tins
beetroot 500g
garlic 4 cloves
water 200ml
olive oil 5 tbsp

To finish:
tahini 1 tbsp
olive oil 200ml
lemon juice 100ml
hazelnut dukkah to serve

Set the oven at 200C/gas mark 6. Line a baking tin with foil, leaving enough to fold over and seal the contents. Rinse the chickpeas in running water then tip them into the foil-lined baking tin. Peel the beetroot then chop each into about six pieces and add them to the chickpeas. Peel the garlic, then tuck among the beetroot. Pour in the water and olive oil, season lightly then fold over the foil and seal by lightly scrunching the edges together. Bake for an hour then open the foil and test for tenderness. If you can’t insert a metal skewer or knife point with the minimum of pressure then return to the oven for a little longer.

Transfer the beetroot, garlic, about three-quarters of the chickpeas and any liquid to a food processor and process to a smooth purée. Mix in the tahini, olive oil and lemon juice, then taste for seasoning, adding salt and pepper if required. Scrape into a serving bowl, cover with clingfilm then refrigerate till necessary.

Serve with some of the hazelnut dukkah and the remaining chickpeas scattered over.

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