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Published on March 30th, 2012 | by Tanya Sitton

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Ecovore Eats: Fun With Hummus! (3 Recipes to Knock Your Socks Off)

Ecovore

hummus

With warm weather ushering in sandwich-and-salad season, now is a perfect time to explore the versatility and deliciousness of heavenly hummus.

All across the country, people are increasingly interested in eating less meat and exploring plant-based cooking. Due to health, environmental, and ethical concerns, more and more people are looking for alternatives to the meat-and-fat-heavy recipes they grew up eating.

Hummus is a delicious way for veg-curious ecovores to begin working more plant-based ingredients into their cooking. Like so many recipes featuring legumes, hummus is tremendously versatile, nutritious, and tasty.

Traditional hummus has just a few basic ingredients: cooked chickpeas, tahini, olive oil, salt, and lemon juice blended smooth, drizzled with a little more olive oil and maybe sprinkled with paprika, then served with warm pita bread. There’s nothing wrong with a traditional approach, but why stop there?

All great recipes are templates, not blueprints. Let’s start with the basics — and then keep going!

Hummus 101: Ingredient Basics

I recommend using garden-fresh or dried beans, preferably pre-cooked the day before. They’re inexpensive; you control how much salt is (or isn’t) added; and they’re BPA free. What a deal!

Fresh lemon (or, where called for, lime) juice is mandatory, since the pre-bottled versions lose quite a bit of flavor in translation. The same rule applies to fresh herbs, for topping hummus dishes; dried herbs will work for many recipes, but not here.

Splurge on a high quality extra virgin olive oil; hemp or flax oil can be substituted for an omega-3 boost, but use extra virgin or regular olive oil for drizzling.

If you have a choice, use olives from a jar or from an olive bar. Canned olives (as well has having BPA issues) can taste remarkably like a metal can.

Fresh garlic works best for the recipes below, but in desperate circumstances garlic powder works too.

There’s no getting around the fresh citrus and tahini; but to make it more locavore-friendly, look for farmers’ market or CSA ingredients like black eyed peas, field peas, purple-hulled peas, lima beans, or other locally grown legumes to swap for chickpeas.

Many creative and delicious hummus applications call for fresh produce to stuff, wrap, or dip; to the greatest degree possible, seek out local growers for hummus ingredients and accessories like garlic, red bell peppers, cucumbers, zuchini, and fresh herbs — better yet, become your own  grower!

Creamy Traditional Hummus

  • 1-1/2 cup well-cooked chickpeas (or one 14-oz can, rinsed and drained)
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • 1 large or 2 medium clove(s) garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 2-1/2 tablespoons tahini
  • paprika (to top, optional)
  • chopped ripe Kalamata olives (to top, optional)
  • 1-3 tablespoons water, as needed for smooth blending
  1. Make tahini cream by blending the lemon juice, tahini, and 1 tablespoon of water for about 5 seconds; scrape down sides of blender, and repeat 2-3 times. Tahini cream is the secret to smooth, creamy hummus: don’t skip this step and just chuck everything in there together! This goes for all hummus recipes, no matter their other details or ingredients: make tahini cream first!
  2. When your tahini cream looks all frothy and creamy, add 1/2 teaspoon salt and 2 tablespoons of the oil, and pulse a few more times to combine with tahini cream.
  3. Add chickpeas to the blender a handful at a time, blending until smooth. If it seems too thick to blend properly, add water 1 tablespoon at a time — the goal is just thin enough to blend, no more. It should hold a chip upright, if you dip one in and let go. Unless you’re aiming for dressing instead of dip (see below!), be careful to only add enough water to achieve blendability.
  4. Test for seasonings; add more salt or lemon juice if you feel so moved. Transfer hummus to serving dish. Drizzle with remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil; sprinkle with paprika and chopped olives.

Serving suggestion:

Serve with warm pita bread, and offer fresh veggies like sliced cucumber, sliced zucchini, celery sticks, or red bell pepper chunks for dipping.

Ok, now that we’ve got the basics down, let’s play!

Chickpeas don’t hold the hummus patent. You can make hummus out of almost anything: lentils, black eyed peas, black beans, zuchini… and why stop with dipping?!

Smoky Spicy Black Bean Hummus

  • 1-1/2 cup cooked black beans (or one 14-oz can, rinsed and drained)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • 1 large or 2 medium clove(s) garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • 2-1/2 tablespoons tahini
  • 1 canned chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, coarsely chopped (1-1/2 to 2, if you’re a spice fiend!)
  • 1/3 cup coarsely chopped cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
  • 1-3 tablespoons water, as needed for smooth blending
  1. Make tahini cream, as above, using lemon juice, lime juice, tahini, and 1 tablespoon water.
  2. Add olive oil, salt, garlic, smoke flavoring, adobo pepper, and cumin seeds; pulse several times to combine.
  3. Add cilantro to the blender, along with a handful of beans; blend smooth. Repeat until all the beans are incorporated, adding small amounts of water as necessary for smooth blending.
  4. Taste to adjust seasonings. (Helpful hint: try to stop ‘tasting’ before blender is empty!)

Serving suggestion:

Slice some zucchini, yellow squash, and Japanese eggplant lengthwise; brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill lightly, just until grill marks appear. Spread black bean hummus on warm flatbreads or flour tortillas, sprinkle with chopped cilantro and fresh garden tomatoes, and wrap it up for tasty and distinctive Mediterranean soft tacos. Serve along with cold salad and grilled pineapple or watermelon, to balance the spicy kick.

Black-Eyed-Pea Hummus with Roasted Garlic and Red Bell

  • 1-1/2 cup cooked black-eyed peas (or one 14-oz can, rinsed and drained)
  • 4 tablespoons olive or walnut oil, divided
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • 1 whole head of garlic
  • 3 tablespoons tahini
  • 1 large red, yellow, or orange bell pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne (optional)
  • chopped parsley or basil (to top, optional)
  • capers (to top, optional)
  • 1-3 tablespoons water, as needed for smooth blending
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8×8 baking pan with parchment paper. Cut the top off the head of garlic, leaving head intact otherwise (cloves unpeeled). Drizzle with 1/2 tablespoon of the oil, and place the whole head of garlic on the cooking sheet.
  2. Halve and trim pepper to remove seeds and membranes, then place cut side down on the baking sheet. Roast garlic and peppers 30-40 minutes, until garlic is soft when poked with fork tines, but not brown; remove garlic head. Turn heat up to 450 degrees, and continue roasting pepper until skin is blackened. Set aside until cool enough to handle.
  3.  Make tahini cream by blending the lemon juice, tahini, and 1 tablespoon of water for about 5 seconds; scrape down sides of blender, and repeat 2-3 times. Add remaining 3-1/2 tablespoons oil, coriander, cumin, cayenne, and salt; pulse a few times to combine.
  4. When cool enough to handle, peel blackened skin from pepper, and add pepper to the blender. Blend smooth.
  5. Using 1/2 the head of roasted garlic, ‘smoosh’ each garlic clove out of its skin and into the blender; blend smooth. I usually end up using the whole head of garlic, since it’s so mellow when roasted; but start with half and add more as your taste dictates, in the final step.
  6. One handful at a time, add black eyed peas and blend smooth, adding small amounts of water as needed to keep things moving.
  7. When all ingredients are incorporated, taste and adjust seasonings. Add more salt, cayenne, or roasted garlic as desired. Sprinkle with fresh parsley or basil, to serve.

Serving suggestion:

Using a melon-baller or sharp paring knife, scoop the seeds from 24 fresh cherry tomatoes to leave a small stuffable shell. Reserve tomato seeds and pulp for another purpose.

With a pastry bag (or 2 teaspoons), fill each cherry tomato with hummus. Top each one with 2-3 capers and fresh chopped parsley or basil, for a lovely and delicious appetizer at your next potluck or soiree.

Welcome… to the Next Level!

The traditional ‘dip’ version is the gateway hummus; however, a world of deliciousness awaits you if you think outside the pita!

Thin hummus with soy, almond, or coconut milk to make a creamy salad dressing; use it as a base for veggie pizza, instead of marinara sauce, then top with tofu feta; add a little more water or lemon juice and blend in steamed seasonal veggies like zuchini, kale, or  broccoli, for a tasty pasta sauce; mix with rice, quinoa, or couscous to stuff baked peppers, squash, or eggplant.

Hummus is an absolutely perfect food for camping or canoe trips: line dehydrator trays with parchment paper, thin hummus with water to make it pourable, and pour onto lined trays in sheets about 1/8″ thick. Dehydrate at about 175 degrees until all moisture is gone, and seal in airtight bags or containers. When ready to eat, mix with a little cool water until it’s a spreadable consistency, and let stand 5 minutes. Enjoy as a high-protein dip for pretzels, carrots, and crackers; or spread on burritos or bagels for a nutritious lunch with minimal fuss.

Like so many plant-based dishes, hummus is inexpensive, healthy, versatile, and delicious.

If you tinker up a great way to enjoy it that I haven’t mentioned, please share!

Image credit: Creative Commons photo by waferboard.



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About the Author

is an ecovore, veganist, messy chef, green girl, food revolutionary, and general free-thinkin' rabble-rouser. M.S. in a health profession, with strong interests in biology, nutrition, and healthy living - find her on .



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