Monday, October 7, 2013

Hummus -- Ho-hum to Yum

Hello again!

After devoting a few months to my "special project" I'm beginning to ease back into other things like ... I took a big walk on the wild side recently and made my own hummus. I know! I'm sure I'm the last person on earth to make it myself instead of buying it already prepared and, yes, it is kind of embarrassing, but maybe it's happened to you too.

You know how sometimes you mean to try making a recipe for something you like and it seems simple and you really would enjoy eating it a little more often, but for some reason you just never get around to it? Well, that's my story with hummus.

Well, that and the somewhat ho-hum flavor of plain old hummus, but after I got over wanting it to have a bigger flavor and finally accepted it for what it is -- a deliciously light, healthy, nutritious, easy-to-make food that can be used in oh-so-many ways, I was ready to make it myself. It's hummus and that ho-hum flavor is part of it's charm. And it's also an invitation to make it yourself - creating a personal hummus statement that pays homage to the "centuries old taste" or embraces bigger, bolder flavors to add a little personality-punch. Goodness knows, I love to tinker with a recipe.

The ingredients are easy enough to keep on hand. OK, I confess I didn't keep tahini around before making hummus myself, but when I found it available in small amounts at my co-op, I was much more inclined to give it a small space in the fridge. And while I admit I don't mind the addition of tahini, I don't miss it if left out, especially if I add garlic, roasted peppers, olives, basil, cumin or a big squeeze of lemon. Now that's some good eating!

As a dip with pita wedges and raw vegetables, hummus can't be beat. My favorite though, is to spread it all over a plate and top it with a mountain of tender crisp vegetables, roasted to a light golden brown for a caramelized crunch. Our local vegetarian/vegan restaurant, the Longbranch Coffeehouse, serves this and calls it Vegetable Kalaya. I'm not sure what "kalaya" means, but since I've just gotten around to making my own hummus, it could be a while before I look it up. I just know it is delicious and a great way for me to eat smart - er.

What's your favorite hummus recipe or dish? I would love to try other versions, now that I've taken the plunge.

And FYI, I am beginning to like the flavor of fresh chopped cilantro added to some of the new foods I enjoy. Either it doesn't taste like soap anymore (but it still kinda does), or I've just learned to like soapy herbs. Yeah, I even like to keep a bunch in the fridge. It definitely is an "old dog, new trick" sort of thing for me!

Hmmm, I wonder what's next? 

A deliciously light hummus with sour cream or yogurt plus lemon juice for a bright flavor balance. For a little more depth of flavor, feel free to adjust the proportions and make additions to suit your own tastes. So easy! 

1 can (15 oz.) garbanzo beans (chickpeas) rinsed and drained
2 tablespoons sour cream or plain yogurt
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoon good extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon tahini
2 teaspoons minced garlic
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1-2 tablespoons water, if needed

Place all ingredients (except water) into a food processor. Pulse several times to chop garbanzos and mix ingredients and then process for several minutes for desired creamy texture. Stop processing a couple of times to scrape sides of bowl, as necessary. If mixture is too thick, drizzle in a little of the extra water, while continuing to process. Feel free to vary the proportions to accent your favorite flavor ingredients. Makes about 2 cups. 

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