Friday, February 1, 2008

February 1: Hummus, Three Ways

Kimberly asked me about hummus in the comments yesterday. Clearly, my best friend has an excellent grasp on the depth and breadth of my love of dip of all kinds. Kimberly is trying to avoid becoming hopelessly bloated and swollen while pregnant and so is trying to reduce sodium by avoiding packaged products. Good for you, I say; I became hopelessly bloated and swollen while pregnant, and it is not comfortable for very long to keep your feet elevated above the level of your head.

Mmmm, hummus. I have recently been banned by my husband from making hummus, sadly, for two reasons: I love to throw so much garlic in it that I smell like a Middle Eastern restaurant, and because it lately hasn't been agreeing with me, and while I smell like a Middle Eastern restaurant, the air immediately surrounding me smells far worse. That might have been what my husband refers to as an "over-share."

And even worse, I don't really have a recipe per se for hummus. I find most of the recipes for them really unsatisfying, except for one in a cookbook called Pita the Great. But hummus is really nothing more than a Middle-Eastern bean dip, made even better by the addition of chewy, toasty pita bread chips drizzled with a little olive oil and baked in the oven. I make hummus with pantry staples in varying amounts, based on what I'm craving. Spicy? More cayenne. Tarty? More lemon juice. Plus, you can add all kinds of things to hummus, and add hummus to all kinds of things.

I am worried I oversold this recipe slightly to Kimberly as being "not a lot of work." Our standards might be a little different in this regard. But it won't kill you, and in fact might make you a convert.

One note about chickpeas: most canned chickpeas come with a funny skin on them. This will not ruin your hummus, but I am sort of a freak. I individually hull each chickpea because I am a freak for that great smooth texture. Also, because I am just kind of a freak, in general.

And also, one note about garlic: Look, I will admit it. I do over-do the garlic in the hummus a little. Add less if you want. But the whole skillet toasting thing I am about to describe will tame some of the garlicky garlic-ness. If it's a step you'd rather skip, than by all means, consider this nothing more than a guideline, but maybe you might, you know, hold it back to maybe three cloves of garlic. Or less.

Basic Hummus
1 can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons tahini (sesame seed paste)
5 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons lemon juice, or to taste
pinch cayenne pepper
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Olive oil (approximately 1/4 cup, plus extra for drizzling, if you drizzle, depending on how loose you like your hummus and how much lemon juice you add)

For garnish:
1/2 cup pitted, chopped kalamata olives
olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley

Heat a small skillet over medium-high heat. Put the peeled whole garlic cloves in the pan. Shaking the pan every few seconds, toast the garlic until it begins to darken, 3-5 minutes total. Remove, cool slightly. Don't let it burn. If it burns throw it out and start over; it will be gross and bitter.

If you decide not to toast your garlic, mince it or press it.

In a food processor fitted with the chopping blade, put all the ingredients but the olive oil and garnishes. Process 30 seconds, or until things are well-chopped and combined. With the blade running, slowly pour in the olive oil until everything forms a cohesive thick texture, or not so thick, depending on what you like.

Chill for an hour or so to let the flavors meld together. Garnish it with a drizzle of olive oil, a handful of chopped olives, a sprinkle of cayenne, a smidge of parsley, or any combination of any of these. Serve with toasted pita wedges tossed with 2 tablespoons olive oil and toasted in a 350 oven until lightly golden. If you don't want all the excess bad stuff, you can serve with cucumber slices and baby carrots.

The following is easy and a little more luxurious, sort of a cross between bean dip and a Middle Eastern fondue. Still great with toasted pita, or maybe grilled French bread rounds.

Hot Hummus With Feta and Olives
1 recipe of hummus (see above)
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 cup pitted, chopped kalamata olives

Preheat oven to 350.

Put hummus in a heatproof oven-safe dish. Stir in feta and olives.

Bake hummus for 15-20 minutes, or until the dish is hot and cheese is melted. Serve. If needed, keep warm in a chafing dish.

Here's what to do with your leftover hummus: make a great veggie wrap. This is a veggie wrap even a meat-eater could love. It's very adaptable--add more stuff you like, leave out whatever you don't like.

Veggie Wrap With Avocado and Hummus

1 cup leftover hummus
4 slices smoked provolone cheese, cut in half lengthwise
1 ripe avocado, peeled and sliced
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
1 tomato, diced
1 cup romaine lettuce, chopped
1/2 cup chopped kalamata olives
salt and pepper to taste
4 10-inch flour tortillas

Divide hummus evenly and spread on tortillas. Down the middle of each tortilla, layer cheese, avocado slices, onion, tomatoes, lettuce, and olives. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Fold in right and left ends of tortilla and wrap from bottom up. Cut each tortilla in half on an angle and if needed, secure with a toothpick. Serve.

1 comment:

John said...

It's probably not that different, but my favorite hommus recipe I've found is from Probably cause she's from the same area as me originally. But Dearborn, MI and surrounding area has more middle eastern restaurants than probably all other states combined. Cheers, John