Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Hummus Three Ways

"But is it Vegan?"

Will loves asking me this question every time I prepare a vegeatrian dish. He doesn't really care, If there's a burger on the menu at a restaurant, that's probably what Will's going to order. Cheeseburger? Even better. There's something just amusing to him about making a dish that conforms to a whole laundry list of things you can't have. And I personally feel that cheese and sour cream make most vegetable dishes better, the answer is almost always no, diminishing my smugness and since of self satisfaction. Kill joy.

The "low meat" diet has been helping me trim down (133.6 for those keeping score at home), and as I've researched new ways to feed myself without cooking up three pounds of pork I found something equally promising. Food I did not have to turn the oven on for. As the temperture hovered at 90° and the humidity made the hair stick to the back of my neck, my food processor and I became best friends. I was going to make my own hummus.

This is one of those things that everyone tells you is "so easy!" but you never quite get around to buying that can of chickpeas or procuring tahini, and the container of already made hummus is right there in the chilled case and look how easily that lifts into your cart. Two weeks ago though, desperate for a meatless dinner that would take no time at all, I decided to tackle this ancient food. When looking for a recipe I hit paydirt in Mark Bittman's hummus recipe. Mr Bittman, a man so annoyed with fussy cooking he writes a column called "The Minimalist" is a bit of a hero to me. When I made his Pear Upside Down Cake last year I knew I had found a soulmate in cooking and sarcasm. And if I wasn't sure how much he endorsed this particular recipe, I had to look no further then the title of the book he included it in: "The Best Recipes in the World". Check.

Adapted practically not at all from the Best Recipes in the World

- 1 cup drained well cooked chickpeas or 1 15 oz. can of chickpeas (often labeled Garbonzo beans), liquid reserved
- 1/4 cup tahini
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus oil for drizzling
- 1 garlic clove, peeled
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin or paprika, or to taste, plus a sprinkling for garnish
- Juice of 1 lemon, more can be added to taste

Put all ingredients in a food processor and begin to process, add the reserved chickpea liquid as needed to create a smooth puree.
Taste and adjust the seasoning (Mark Bittman likes to add more lemon juice, and I agree). Serve, drizzled with the olive oil and sprinkled with a bit more cumin or paprika.

The batch was fantastic, softer then store bought and melted in your mouth. So great I may have forgotten to take a picture of it. Oops. I want to stress again how much more lemon juice can help, the more juice the brighter the hummus becomes. Will felt it was a bit too far on the garlicky side, but then he's not the biggest fan of garlic, so use precaution in deference to your own tastes. I served it on pita bread that I had brushed with olive oil and thrown on the grill pan, making it crispy and delicious. I wasn't done through. In fact, I was just getting started. Now that I had taken on a basic hummus, I was ready to plunge into a national trend, defiling the stuff by flavoring it. And I was feeling a bit Southwestern one day.

Black Bean Hummus
From Joe D's Cafe (apparently no longer open)

- 1 15 oz can black beans or 1 cup well cooked black beans, drained, liquid reserved
- 3 Tablespoons tahini
- 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
- 2 scallions, sliced, white and light green parts only
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large garlic clove, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Put all ingredients in a food processor and begin to process, add the reserved black bean liquid as needed to create a smooth puree. Season hummus to taste with salt and pepper, and adjust seasoning as desired (threw in a bit more cumin and cayenne). Spoon into bowl.

The black bean was, off the three, Will's favorite. He liked the spiciness, it made him want more. A friend of ours, Brian, who was staying for a few days fell deeply in love with this particular hummus, for a moment I throught we would have to leave the two of them alone. By my sampling of two, I have concluded this is the preferred hummus of the male gender. I am a scientist dammit.

My fickle female heart had wandered on though. I had discovered a recipe for a much more asian hummus, a hummus that had soy sauce and rice vinegar and would even use some of the chili garlic hot sauce I've had sitting in my fridge since back when I made pork dumplings, not to mention some of the ginger we've had on hand since Will started making ginger syrup for his Blueberry Mojitos. This would be damn useful hummus.

Ginger-Garlic Hummus
Adapted a bit from Bon Appetit

- 1 small garlic clove, peeled
- 1 1/2 inch piece of peeled fresh ginger
- 1 cup drained well cooked chickpeas or 1 15oz can of chickpeas , about 1 1/2 Tablespoons of liquid reserved
- 2 Tablespoons Almond Butter (the original recipe calles for cashew butter, but that stuff is like $6 a jar and I was able to find a little packet of almond butter for like 75 cents.)
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons rice vinegar
- 3/4 teaspoon soy sauce
- 1/4 teaspoon chili-garlic sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon ground anise seeds
- 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 teaspoon sliced scallions

Mince garlic and ginger in processor. Add beans, reserved liquid, almond butter, vinegar, soy sauce, chili-garlic sauce, and anise. Process mixture to a coarse puree. Add cilantro and scallions, process to combine. Transfer to bowl.

This was probably the least beloved hummus, but still tasty. I took some into work with pita and some cucumber rounds and felt very smug and self satisfied indeed at my healthy lunch.

All in all the world was right, hummus, especially basic hummus, is incredibly easy to make. Mark Bittman even suggests keeping a few cans of chickpeas on hand so you can bang together a snack at a moments notice, and I'm always a fan of seeming effortlessly fabulous. Once you start making flavored hummus, recipes start jumping out at you from everywhere. Eggplant hummus? Why I happen to have an eggplant from the farmers market right here! Chipotle hummus? That sounds spicy and perfect for a Sunday football party! Will's starting to look a little weary though, it has been a bit of hummus overload. Recently, he's taken to dragging game animals into the middle of out living room and leaving post-it notes on them pointing to the tenderloin. I'm pretending not to notice. I think I may have to start actually cooking food again, and not just blending it in a food processor. He has to admit though, we've been eating very Vegan.

*Note: Each recipe makes about 1 1/2 cups.


Emily Malloy said...

Love all of the recipes! Hummus is simply divine!

Squeaky Gourmet said...

nope not over done at all! Wonderful 3 different kinds!

Anne Keefe said...

have you ever thought about compiling a cook book? or putting these blogs into a book? There are some online sources to help you with that if you're interested. I personally think you should! I'd buy it!

LookyTasty said...

Great recipes! I'm a huge fan of hummus.

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