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Holiday recipe: Michael Varga's holiday twist on a classic Middle Eastern spread

The MasterChef Canada finalist and Port Moody resident takes the Tri-City News on a journey to the Middle East for a colourful holiday dip.

My holiday´╗┐ dishes are not generally traditional. 

My dad was Hungarian, and my mom is from Egypt, and every Christmas Eve we make homemade pizza.

A tradition started with my dad and sister. Years ago. 

We carry on that tradition now with my wife, kids and my sister. 

My dad was the resident chef growing up. I learned a lot by watching him cook. Although he never used measurements.

I’d ask how do you know when it’s ready? He’d say, "When it tastes good, it’s ready."

I fell in love with the spices and flavours from the Middle East and Mediterranean. Quite an influence from my mom and Nana.

During the holidays, I love grazing boards. Anything to dip or spread!

The roasted beet hummus is always a hit! The colours are so vibrant too.

I love to top mine with feta, pistachios and pickled onions, but it can be topped with anything you like. 



  • 1 can chickpeas drained 
  • 3 small purple beets 
  • About 8–10 mint leaves 
  • 2–3 tbsp tahini 
  • Juice from 1 lemon 
  • 1–2 cloves of garlic 
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • Approx. 1/2 – 3/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil to emulsify (make it good olive oil)



Roast beets in the oven first.

Cut beets in a half drizzle with oil and a pinch of kosher salt. You can add any spices you like at this point.

Wrap in foil and roast at 350° for about 40 minutes. 

Remove beets from the oven and peel the skin. It’ll come off easy once roasted. Dice into, well... rolling dice-sized cubes. 

In a food processor, add all ingredients except olive oil.

Once it starts to incorporate, slowly add oil until it turns out gorgeous.

Add salt to taste! 


Michael Varga lives in Port Moody, serves as a Vancouver firefighter and was a finalist on MasterChef Canada Season Five (2018).