Lately it seems like just about every food and health article you read has a mention of the “wonder root” known as turmeric. Whether or not turmeric can impart health miracles is up to you to decide. But in the meantime, you can use turmeric root throughout your cooking to add color and depth of flavor.
A super-brief background: Turmeric has a long and colorful history, with its medicinal use dating back approximately 4,000 years. Recently, it has had a resurgence of popularity and interest. More than 3,000 publications dealing with turmeric have been released in the past 25 years.
Turmeric is prized for containing the compound curcumin, which is credited with anti-inflammatory, pro-digestive, and purportedly cancer-preventing properties. Got a health complaint? You can pretty much find someone who’s claiming that turmeric will cure it. (Please note that we are not making any medical claims or giving any medical advice here.)
Working With Turmeric Root
Working with fresh turmeric root (Melissa’s Produce graciously provided us with fresh turmeric root to sample) is similar to working with ginger (a related root). You’ll want to peel off the thick, woodlike outer skin, and then grate it using a rasp or other fine grater.
We love using turmeric in soups, especially chicken soup, because it gives an otherwise beige soup an appealing golden color. We also have used it in baked goods such as in the cornbread above, because it amps up the color and flavor. (The exact amount varies; we usually grate in approximately one or two teaspoon’s worth. That’s just enough to add flavor but not change the texture.)
Just for one example, we recently made a delicious parsnip-cranberry cake from Dorie Greenspan’s Everyday Dorie cookbook – and we grated some turmeric into the cake batter to give it a little extra color and flavor.
You might start to get the feeling that sometimes we just throw in some turmeric for the heck of it – and you’re right. Exhibit A: this fried rice we got in a recent takeout order. Guess what we grated on top?
Turmeric Hummus Recipe
If you’re looking for a super-quick and easy to use turmeric root, try this turmeric hummus recipe. It makes a lovely golden-hued hummus that you can use as an appetizer, in a salad, in a sandwich, or in a bowl.
A pretty golden hummus made with turmeric root
- 1 15-oz. can garbanzo beans Drain and reserve 1/4 cup of the bean liquid
- 2 tbsp tahini
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cloves fresh garlic
- 2 tsp freshly grated turmeric root
- 1/4 cup reserved liquid from garbanzo beans
- salt and pepper to taste
Place garbanzo beans, tahini, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, and turmeric in a food processor and blend until smooth. Add liquid from garbanzo beans as necessary to achieve smooth and creamy consistency. Season as desired with salt and pepper; using canned beans it should not take much salt.
Note: To use dried beans, begin with 2 cups dried garbanzo beans. Soak for 6 to 8 hours or overnight. Drain and rinse, then cover with 6 cups of water and bring to a boil. Simmer for 1 hour, or until beans are tender. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the liquid. Proceed as above.
Last but not least, if you have a way you like to use turmeric root, let us know!
Blogger disclosure: Melissa’s Produce gave us turmeric to work with. We did not receive compensation for this post, and all opinions expressed are our own.