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Monday, May 27, 2013

Moroccan Textures and a Recipe

 Beet Hummus with Black Tahini and Cinnamon-Pear Balsamic Vinegar

Moroccan Textures and a Recipe for Beet Hummus with Black Tahini and Cinnamon-Pear Balsamic Vinegar
by Victoria Challancin

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 Making black tahini in the blender

For a dinner I made on Friday for visiting friends, I featured 9 Moroccan salads, including this interloper: beet hummus.  While not Moroccan at all, it blended with the other flavors beautifully, making it a perfect addition to the general panoply of dishes featuring a small portion of the myriad salads found on the Moroccan table (more on this soon, I promise).  This dish was a stand-out and a favorite with everyone.

I first encountered a recipe for beet hummus on Serious Eats.  Intrigued with a recipe that included three of my favorite ingredients, beets, chickpeas, and tahini, I knew I had to try it.  When I discovered that it included black tahini, something totally new to me, the deal was clinched.  Having just purchased a wickedly delicious cinnamon-pear balsamic vinegar from San Miguel's Olio Fino, which features olive oils and balsamic vinegars with staggeringly fascinating flavors, I thought it would be a perfect addition to the hummus, and it was!  Utterly delicious... Also, for more information on hummus, check out the post where I explain in depth the mystery of this oft-maligned and misused term (it includes a great recipe for a hummus platter as well).

When a special friend requested that I post this recipe as the first of many from Moroccan menu, how could I resist?  For you, E.

Recipe:  Black Tahini
(Recipe adapted from Serious Eats)
Cook's Notes:  The original recipe calls for 1 cup black sesame seeds to 2 tablespoons oil.  I found that the seeds I used required at least double the amount of oil plus a good pinch of kosher salt to give it the taste I was looking for.  This is truly a recipe that requires tweaking.  Because the seeds are black, you have to rely on your ose to tell when the seeds are sufficiently toasted, but it should only take about one minute.

1 cup black sesame seeds
3 to 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
A large pinch of kosher salt

Place the sesame seeds in a dry skillet over medium heat.  Toast, stirring constantly until fragrant, being careful not to burn them.

Transfer the sesame seeds to a blender.  Begin with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, adding it slowly.  Add additional olive oil until you have the desired consistency, which is thick and creamy.  Add salt and blend again.  Adjust, adding more oil or salt, as required.

Recipe:  Beet Hummus with Cinnamon-Pear Balsamic Vinegar
(Recipe adapted from Serious Eats)
Cook's Notes:  I used a delicious specialty balsamic vinegar, though regular would work fine.  Fig balsamic would also be particularly nice.  Looking for a sharp spicy hummus, I umphed the amount of tahini, garlic cumin as well, but this is completely a matter of taste.  I also boiled the beets due to time, but roasting would yield a more complex flavor.  As with the black tahini recipe itself, this one requires tweaking until you are happy with the balance of flavors.  Even with the additional amounts I used, this dish was surprisingly mellow and gently flavored.  Check the original recipe for a starting place and then play with it, as I did.

4 medium beets ( about 1 lb), cooked, peeled, and cubed
1 (15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds, toasted and ground
2 tablespoons black tahini (or substitute regular tahini)
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons Cinnamon-Pear Balsamic Vinegar or other balsamic viengar
1 large garlic clove, minced or pressed
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus additional as needed
Kosher salt to taste
Mint or chopped parsley to garnish

Place beets, chickpeas, cumin, tahini, lemon juice, vinegar, and garlic in the bowl of a food processor. Process until smooth.  With machine running, slowly drizzle in olive oil, additional oil if needed.  Season with salt to taste. Serve, drizzling with extra olive oil and a mint sprig or chopped parsley.

Serve with crusty bread, pita, or pita chips.

Moroccan Textures:
Morocco is truly a marvel at every conceivable level:  the gentle people, the rich culture, the food (OMG, the food), the colors, the smells, the textures.  Endlessly varied, it is an assault to the senses everywhere you turn.  In my last post I offered you a few I give you textures...and for even more reasons why I visit Morocco every year, please check out my summary here.  

 Bronze doors on the royal palace in Fès

A polished ammonite fossil, approximately 18-inches wide, from Erfoud

 Fishing boats and nets, Essaouira

 A tagine decorated with corral and hennaed camel bone

 A tea-seller's hat, Marrakech

 Snails, ready to be dropped into rich anis-scented broth

A hammered tin container (for bread?) in front of zellij tilework (terra cotta tiles covered with enamel and set into plaster--these are several hundred years old) from our riad in Fès 

 Richly embroidered material in the Fès souk

 Our desert bivouac, piled with carpets
 Hassan, our guide on the camel trip in the Sahara

 Oscar and Amy surrounded with Moroccan textures:  fine, soft sand, dry desert grasses, and a Berber wedding blanket--and turbans, of course!
 The undulating sculpture of the shifting Saharan sands

 Tadelakt, carved lime plaster work, and zellij tiles from our lovely, old riad in Fès

Layers of arches in the ancient royal stables in Meknès

 Stacks of carpets, each lovelier than the last (note the 400- to 500-year old worn zellij on the floor

Parting Shot:  
 More textures...

Life life and love, recipes are meant to be shared, but please ask permission before using photos or text.  Thanks!

Victoria Challancin
Flavors of the Sun Cooking School and Tours
San Miguel de Allende, México

Moroccan Textures and a Recipe


Joanne T Ferguson said...

G'day! Morocco is on my Bucket List, TRUE!
LOVE the flavor combination of your beetroot and have black tahini on my list to do!
Cheers! Joanne

Eha said...

Oh my, Victoria! I am thrilled and honoured . . . truly!! You are better for a toothache than Panadeine Forte! Truly I have read so much on the country I have yet to visit, but these photos are something else again and, tho' I supposed to be working, sharing of such is much much more important :) ! Thanks on behalf of all my readers!! Know nothing about black tahini [another learning experience!] but putting beetroot, chickpeas and tahini together will be a new and delightful experience . . . and need to check out more on available balsamics here: methinks I am getting 'boring' :) !

sawsan @chef in disguise said...

Morroco has been on my list of places to visit for a very long time. There is something enchanting about that country. Thank you so much for sharing those beautiful pictures.
I have only used black tahini for desserts. It is called kizha here. Cant wait to try it in a savory dish

Nancy said...

Hummus is one of my most favorite foods, and I always enjoy the different looks it takes on. The color is gorgeous! I haven't tried either beet humus nor black tahini -- on my list. Thanks for sharing the recipe and gorgeous colors of Morocco!

Yvette said...

WOW! That beet hummus looks so gorgeous and I bet it tastes amazing. Beautiful colorful photos. Thank you for sharing your journey. LOVE the textures! You need to frame that arches photo ;)

Hotly Spiced said...

I love the look of beetroot hummus. What a pretty and vibrant colour. I've bought this before but not made it. I'll be using your recipe! Beautiful images of your trip to Morroco. said...

That hummus is gorgeous...the color...a must try for me...great post and yes, the thought of traveling wiht you is in the back of my mind.

Joan Nova said...

Love both components of this recipe and am bookmarking it for some time in the future.

And your Moroccan images have me moving the destination up on my travel bucket list.

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

Victoria, I must make this! Your photos made my mouth water and I really want to make the black tahini too! I'm sorry I've been absent-I have been travelling in China and they ban blogger blogs! :( As soon as I arrived in Bangkok, I was straight to your blog!