A bowl of beet hummus would normally elicit a double take, its vivid fuchsia hue almost shocking even alongside a rainbow of fresh veggies ready to be dipped. Instead, it just seems a natural for the food table when one is in conversation with Emily and Elisabeth Beagle, twin-sister farmers and cooks at Holoholo Farm and Red Barn Farmstand, both in Haleiwa.
“This shows how beautiful hummus can be,” said Elisabeth, noting that they also turn carrots and uala (sweet potatoes) into the delicious spread.
The root vegetables are well-suited for the dish, with their deep, earthy flavors. And making hummus offers a new way to serve them.
The sisters prepare much of what fills the farm stand’s grab-and-go menu, such as sandwiches, wraps, salads, dips and desserts. The stand also sells bounty from Holoholo and Twin Bridge farms and those of neighboring farms, as well as local artisanal products.
“We’re farmers, so we cook with local ingredients. The common denominator is that our recipes are based on (vegetables) we can grow, or what our neighbors grow,” Elisabeth said.
Uala is a veggie the sisters are especially pleased to work with because it’s culturally relevant. At first, they weren’t sure it would make for a great hummus, thinking it might be starchy and overly sweet.
“It has to be texturally appropriate. It has to be mashable,” Emily said.
They were pleasantly surprised. They simply steamed the potato, mashed it, then blended it with other ingredients. If it got a bit thick, the addition of water was a quick fix.
I tried my hand at making this hummus, after the sisters sent me off with a package of uala following a visit to their farm. There isn’t much to say except it couldn’t be easier to make, especially if you have a food processor. I just got one, and this hummus was the inaugural dish. Turns out the recipe was a bit sweet for my liking, and tinkering with the flavor was easy peasy. I just added what I wanted — lots more lemon juice and salt — and stirred.
While traditional hummus calls for chickpeas, tahini (toasted, ground sesame seeds), lemon juice and olive oil, the sisters generally leave out the oil, which they say can be costly and isn’t always necessary to the flavor in their recipes.
They do consistently call for roasted garlic, saying it adds depth and warmth without the sharpness of raw garlic. Chickpeas aren’t a standard ingredient of theirs, either, because the sisters find they’re not easily digestible. Still, they are included in the sisters’ beet hummus because they do a good job of rounding out the sweetness of the beets.
Tahini, however, “is the story of hummus; it adds Mediterranean kick,” said Elisabeth.
And because their recipes usually are sweeter than classic hummus, they’re generous in their use of lemon juice, which lends balance.
Whatever the recipe, the sisters like to spotlight hummus for its ease of preparation, healthfulness and the fact that it satiates the most voracious appetite.
Another plus, especially for a farmer’s bottom line: “You don’t need top-grade (produce) for hummus,” said Emily.
This recipe calls for either additional lemon juice or olive oil to thin the consistency of the hummus, if necessary. Elisabeth Beagle says to make the choice based on how lemony you like things to taste. She prefers an assertive lemon flavor, but those who like things more mellow should go with olive oil.
In food processor, puree beets. Add chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice and garlic. Blend until smooth, thinning with lemon juice or olive oil to desired consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serves 32.
Approximate nutritional information, per 2-tablespoon serving (including lemon juice and not including olive oil or extra salt to taste): 35 calories, 2 g fat, no saturated fat or cholesterol, 150 mg sodium, 4 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 1 g sugar, 1 g protein
Uala (Sweet Potato) Hummus
Adapted from recipe by chef Nina Beatty
Combine all ingredients except water in food processor. Use water to thin to desired consistency. Serves 24 to 32.
Approximate nutritional information, per 2-tablespoon serving (based on 32 servings and 1 cup added water): 40 calories, 2 g fat, no saturated fat or cholesterol, 100 mg sodium, 4 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 1 g sugar, 1 g protein