Tuesday, May 4, 2010

lebanese beet salad and hommus from alice's kitchen lebanese cookbook

last weekend's tasting at bale's thriftway from alice's kitchen: traditional lebanese cooking was a great success—served over 300 samples of lebanese beet salad and hommus; and sold and signed lots of cookbooks! here's a photo of the beets used: gold and red—prior to boiling them.

mama's recipe that i grew up eating used typical red beets, but i recently experimented using a mix of chioggia beets (with red stripes) or this time, gold beets along with the red, since chioggia beets weren't available. the result: a very colorful and festive salad!

these are the gold and red beets diced after boiling them in different pots and removing the outer skin after they cooled. i cooked the two colors separately so the gold beets would not get dyed before tossing the salad and reserved the colorful stock for soups.

chopped green onions (scallions) are added to the chopped beets in a cobalt bowl. then our garlic, lemon, olive oil dressing tossed all together to create a truly festive and beautiful salad that can be served warm, at room temperature, or cold. great leftover should you have any!

people loved this salad and as i told them, it's very easy to make. the quintessential lebanese dressing of garlic mashed into a paste with sea salt, lemon juice, and olive oil can be used on spinach, asparagus, broccoli, chard, as a dip for artichokes, on cabbage or potato salad...on and on! you can see how the gold beets become dyed by the red beets. the garlic/lemon dressing provides a tart balance to the sweetness of beets.

the other lebanese recipe i sampled from alice's kitchen is almost everyone's favorite: hommus! the cookbook has mother and sitto's original old-country way of making this starting with dry garbanzo beans (chick peas) soaked overnight, and then boiled until tender. i remember mama mashing the beans into a puree by hand with a big wooden mallet. 

well, times have obviously changed and i certainly don't have time for this method, so included in the book is my five minute hommus food processor method: first pulse the garlic and salt, then add a can of drained garbanzo beans and pulse; pour in the fresh squeezed lemon juice, pulse; and add tahini and pulse. a bit of warm water smoothes it all out! taste and adjust seasoning and presto...almost-instant hommus, as garlicky and lemony as you like! so much better than store bought and much cheaper, too!

spread into a lovely serving dish, sprinkle with paprika, drizzle with a bit of olive oil, and add a final touch of a sprig of parsley. serve with pita chips (easily homemade), crackers, pita bread, or veggie sticks and you have a nutritious appetizer that even children love! bon appetite! sahtein!


  1. Alice: As always a wonderful posting! I cannot wait until I get some fresh beets at the farmer's market this week. I Love Beets!

    I actually used your Hommus recipe for a fund raiser for Junior Achievement. It went over like fireworks. Everyone loved it.

    Love you!

    Ellen Hudson

  2. hi ellen!

    loved your comment and delighted that the hommus recipe was well loved!

    also, am honored that you call me alice! this happens frequently, and it warms my heart!

    trusting the beet salad was a great hit, as well!

    happy cooking and bon appetite!