Garbanzo beans and beets are topped with feta to provide a colorful dip for springtime crudité. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)

Garbanzo beans and beets are topped with feta to provide a colorful dip for springtime crudité. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)

Brighten up breakup

The vibrancy of beet hummus brings color to a gray season

The long-anticipated return of the sun brings with it the most dreaded season of gray and grime. Our streets are somehow simultaneously dusty and soaked, our parking lots and sidewalks have become treacherous and inhospitable, and the never-ending dance of snowsuits and boots and gloves has finally made me weary.

I long for the smell of sunscreen and lake water and the lullaby of loon calls in midnight twilight. With the sparkle of December far behind us, and the brilliance of June still a distant dream, this is the season of impatience. This is my time to wait, to plan, and to focus my efforts on the tasks of the future while I watch the earth slowly thaw, and to take comfort in the knowledge that someday soon I will step outside and be struck by the welcome scent of chlorophyll.

This week I have been mapping my garden and daydreaming about young radish kimchi, pickled baby carrots, and tender new greens. I am eager to begin and frustrated by the mound of ice and the long months that separate me from the soil. In the meantime, I try to take advantage of the fabulous spring skiing (perhaps the only superior aspect of these months) for my much-needed boosts of serotonin.

I also must try to fight the urge to put a helmet on my toddler every time he sets foot outside, for every step on the spring ice is fraught with danger, and even one bad bump can be catastrophic. It is honestly enough to sometimes discourage me from taking him outside at all, but fresh air is a need, not a want, and it would be cruel to deprive him for the sake of my fear. So for now I must resign myself to hover over him in anxious anticipation of every slip and stumble.

The monotony of the incessant gray has sapped the color from my mood, so I have been injecting extra vibrancy into my meals with bright flavors and unexpected hues. The glorious pink of this beet hummus hoists my sunken spirits and, when it is paired with a display of fresh crudité, it nourishes both body and mind.

Ingredients:

1 large raw beet

1 can garbanzo beans

3 cloves fresh garlic

¼ cup tahini

The juice and zest of 1 whole lemon

3 teaspoons olive oil

Salt to taste

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Peel your beet and roughly cut into wedges.

Toss the wedges in olive oil and lightly salt.

Wrap in a foil pouch and roast for 1 hour or until tender.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.

Strain and rinse your garbanzo beans.

Combine all ingredients into the bowl of a food processor and blend until smooth. You will need more or less oil depending on the moisture content of your beets. You want the finished product to be smooth, but not soupy.

Taste and season with extra salt or lemon juice.

Garnish with crumbled feta and a drizzle of olive oil.

Serve with fresh vegetables and crackers, chips or toast.

Try this hummus as a sandwich spread with shredded chicken and arugula, or on toast with avocado, a poached egg, sour cream and fresh dill. The sweetness of the beets pairs well with pickled onions and spicy raw radish. It will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Tressa Dale is a culinary and pastry school graduate and U.S. Navy veteran from Anchorage. She lives in Nikiski with her husband, 2-year-old son and two black cats.

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