SWEET POTATO “HUMMUS”

My fingers are firmly crossed that there is no such thing as the Hummus Protection Squad, or I’d be in serious trouble. You can call it a “dip” if it makes you feel better, it’s fine with me.  I adapted the recipe from several different sources, but the little detail I loved the most was using the microwave to cook the sweet potato. The flavor was still quite intense and the prep time substantially faster when compared to roasting, steaming, or boiling. Since America Test Kitchen recommended this method in several of their dips, I knew it would work. Those guys work hard to control all variables in their culinary experiments.

SWEET POTATO “HUMMUS”
(inspired by several sources)

1 pound sweet potatoes (two, medium-large)
¾ cup water
¼ cup tahini
1 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
2 tablespoons yogurt
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon ground coriander
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
salt and pepper to taste
toasted sesame seeds (optional)
drizzle of olive oil (optional)

Prick sweet potatoes all over with a fork.  Place them over a paper towel in the microwave and cook until very soft, 10 to 12 minutes. Allow the potatoes to cool down until you can handle them safely. Slice them in half, scoop the cooked flesh, discard the skins.

Place the cooked potato in the bowl of a food processor. Add the water, tahini, olive oil, yogurt, lemon juice, all the spices, and process until completely smooth. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper

For best flavor, allow the hummus to sit at room temperature for half an hour or several hours in the fridge, bringing to room temperature before serving.  Drizzle with olive oil and toasted sesame seeds, if desired.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here


Comments: First of all, don’t twist your nose at the microwave step. It works not only for sweet potatoes, but – ready for this? – eggplant! If you like to make baba ganush and until now have roasted the eggplant, give the microwave a chance. I intend to blog about it sometime, but it might take a while. I first saw it in an old book by Barbara Kafka, The Microwave Gourmet. Her words: the eggplant cooked in the microwave retains a beautiful green color, rather than taking on the dull brown of roasted eggplant. Mind blowing, don’t you think? Anyway, I hope I convinced you to try it.

I did not expect to like this departure on my favorite classic as much as I did. The texture won me over, big time, it is very creamy. The tahini takes it into hummus territory with the help of all the spices, but has a slightly sweeter and less sharp taste. I cannot quite comprehend that some people would not like the original version, but if you find yourself faced with entertaining these rare individuals, consider making this variation. It will be a hit.  As to what to enjoy it with, we have always been partial to Ak-Mak crackers, but the other day Phil brought home a box of Dr Kracker snackers and I have one word for you: dangerous. Actually, here is another: addictive. They are dangerously addictive. So so good! He found it at Marshalls, but here is a link to amazon, so you can see what I’m talking about. He bought two kinds, one with cheese and one with a mixture of seeds. I cannot decide which one I loved the most.  Even plain they are fantastic. You’ve been warned.

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THE BEST, THE VERY BEST HUMMUS

We eat hummus all the time. Almost always store-bought, because we actually like the two brands available in our neck of the woods: Sabra and Athenos. Sometimes I refresh it with a little lemon juice, olive oil, some cumin or paprika, but sometimes we just dig in, straight from the container. I have quite a few hummus-like recipes in the blog, departures from the classic, using avocado, edamame, even pumpkin. Oddly enough, I never posted the classic, chickpea-tahini entity. Until now, that is. The recipe I tried this past weekend was a revelation, and I am still kicking myself for taking such a long time to try it, when bloggers and cookbook authors have been raving about it for ages. This is the way hummus is prepared in the Middle East. The prominent flavor is exactly what is intended to be: chickpeas and tahini. No distractions. The texture, unbeatable. Absolutely nothing to do with the grocery store variety. This might just spoil you forever.  I adapted the recipe from a few sources, including Ottolenghi, to make a version that has a little bit less tahini and more lemony. Play with it, but don’t mess with the cooking of the chickpeas.

hummus
THE VERY BEST HUMMUS
(adapted from several sources)

1 cup dried chickpeas
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup tahini (best quality you can find)
juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup cold water
red pepper flakes (optional)
cumin or paprika for decoration (optional)

The night before making the hummus, cover the chickpeas with enough water to cover by 2 inches and soak them for 12 hours. Drain and rinse the chickpeas and place them in a large saucepan with the baking soda. Cover them a couple of  inches of water and bring the water to a boil. Simmer for an hour or until very tender. Drain the beans, let them cool slightly and add to a powerful mixer (Vitamix is available). If you don’t have a Vitamix, use a food processor.

Add the lemon juice, tahini, salt, and blend until very smooth. With the motor running, drizzle in the water and continue to blend for a few more minutes. Taste and season with additional salt if needed. Add the red pepper flakes, if using, and mix gently. Transfer to a serving dish, top with a drizzle of olive oil, maybe some cumin or paprika sprinkled on top. If you like, a little bit of fresh lemon juice brightens up the flavors.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: When Phil tried the first bite of Ak-Mak cracker with this creamy hummus spread on it, he was silent for a few seconds, then told me it was the best hummus he’s ever had. Followed by… you know you’ll have to make this all the time now, right? I have to agree, the texture is three logs of magnitude better than any hummus you can buy or make by simply opening a can of chickpeas. I guarantee you it is worth the time you’ll have to wait for the beans to get tender. Just go for it, do it on a Saturday morning, while you sip your coffee, your tea, while you read the newspaper. Just remember to soak the beans the evening before. That is all.  You will notice there is no garlic in my version. It is listed as optional by some, mandatory by others. I am very partial to the pure flavor of chickpeas and tahini and find that garlic would throw this delicate balance off. You should do what your taste buds tell you to…  Olive oil? Only drizzled on top at the time you serve it. In the hummus itself, water is the best emulsifier. Just think about it, tahini is extremely oily, adding more oil to the dip makes no sense.   It is soooo creamy, I tried to capture the texture on my first photo, it has the feeling of a luscious mousse. Everyone was mesmerized by its looks. Everyone.

bogeyhummus


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ZUCCHINI “HUMMUS”

Once more I shall commit the sin of stretching the name of my favorite dip, traditionally made with garbanzo beans, tahini, and very few other additions.  I think zucchini is one of the most versatile veggies, and this dip proves the point.  Plus, it is delicious! I originally saw it at Angie’s blog Divalicious Recipes in the City, and tweaked her recipe ever so slightly.  Angie has a ton of creative recipes in her site, I actually linked one of her cauliflower concoctions in a recent post, and intend to make it soon. As far as this dip goes, you should definitely play with the amount of tahini, lemon juice, and feel free to even add some garbanzo beans in case you want to get one step closer to the title of the dish.   😉

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ZUCCHINI HUMMUS
(slightly adapted from Divalicious)

2 medium zucchini
1/4 cup tahini
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove of garlic (optional)
1/4 cup lemon juice
zest of half lemon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

Combine all the ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth.

Taste and adjust the seasonings. I like to sprinkle a little smoked paprika on top of the dip before serving, but that is totally optional, of course!  Ak-Mak crackers are the perfect carrier for this dip.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

We had a pizza party the other day. My favorite type of get-together, in which I make plenty of balls of dough, and we take turns adding all sorts of toppings, some will be vegetarian-friendly, some loaded with meat, according to the mood of the moment. The house is kept cool because we grill the pizzas outside.   In this type of event, appetizers must be light, and for obvious reasons, cheese is out. Who wants to load up on cheese before facing a pizza dinner?   I prefer to serve hummus, either the traditional version or some variation, like my edamame hummus of the past.  This version with zucchini turned out super light and flavorful, a perfect option for our evening.

If you are a zucchini-lover, don’t skip this one. Winner!

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PUMPKIN HUMMUS

Starting around Halloween, the food blogosphere turns into a pumpkin-fiesta, matching the phenomenon so common in grocery stores too: everything that can be made with a pumpkin flavor will be.  Dog food? Yes.  Potato chips? Yes, siree. Candles for your bathroom?  Of course!  Pumpkin Pie Vodka? You bet! It can be a bit much.  But, now that the pumpkin fever has subsided a little, I feel it’s safe to come out and play.  Let me share with you a pumpkin hummus that we enjoyed recently.  I’d love to give credit to the source, but I have no idea where I got it from.  I wrote down the ingredients in a piece of paper and ended up modifying it a bit for my own taste.  Actually, if you google pumpkin hummus, you’ll find many versions out there, including this one from Sue’s site. She blogged about it just a few days ago, proving that great minds  hummus alike.. 😉

Pumpkin Hummus

PUMPKIN HUMMUS
(a variation from internet sources)

1 can chickpeas, drained and peeled
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup water
3 Tbsp tahini
1/2 cup canned unsweetened pumpkin puree
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cayenne pepper
drizzle of olive oil

Place chickpeas, lemon juice, water and tahini in food processor. Process until really smooth, let the machine run for a couple of minutes, scrape the sides of the bowl,  process again. Add the pumpkin puree’ and seasonings. Process. With the motor running drizzle a little olive oil. Taste and add more lemon juice, cayenne pepper, and salt if needed.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Hummus is a mandatory appetizer at our home.  It doesn’t matter if we are having a dinner party for a few friends, or a departmental get-together to welcome a guest speaker, we always include this super versatile chickpea dip, either as the traditional type, or some fun variation.  Making hummus from scratch is easy, and it adds a nice touch.  This is a photo of the appetizer course of our first dinner party post-hellnovation.  Everything ready,  our friends were about to arrive, and we were in Kitchen Nirvana Land…

appetizers

Apart from the pumpkin hummus,  I made the batch of crackers you can see on the green plate: Cheddar and Fennel Seed Crackers, recipe to be featured soon in the Bewitching Kitchen. Think of a shortbread type concoction with a sharp, salty nature, and a very mild fennel taste.

Back to the hummus.  My version has two modifications that deviate from most recipes around. First, it doesn’t take any garlic. Second, the amount of olive oil is minimal.  When I savor hummus, I like the taste of chickpeas and tahini to be dominant, and that’s pretty hard to achieve if using raw garlic.  So I omitted it. I suppose adding roasted garlic could be a nice alternative.  In my handwritten note, I noticed that the original recipe called for 1/3 cup of olive oil. I added just a tablespoon, and still could detect the flavor of the oil, not too overpowering, but definitely present. One third of a cup would have ruined it for us.  But, different folks, different strokes, you should modify this version as you see fit.  Just don’t skip the pumpkin, ok?   😉

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CILANTRO JALAPENO “HUMMUS”

cilantrohummus11
I haven’t yet met a “hummus” I did not like. This one is another example of a tahini-less version, with the garbanzo beans standing up to justify the name. 😉  The recipe is from a wonderful blog I recently stumbled upon:  “Garnish with Lemon“.  It called for peeling the chickpeas, and after reading a lot about the benefits of this extra-step, I went for it. You’ll need a considerable amount of Zen for the job, but I now believe it is totally worth the trouble.  If I am making hummus just for the two of us, I might skip it. But, for special occasions you’ll find me standing by the sink, mindfully peeling pea by pea while wondering about the meaning of life, the origin of the universe, and the mechanism of iron uptake by Escherichia coli.

CILANTRO-JALAPENO HUMMUS
(adapted from Garnish with Lemon)

1 can (15 oz) garbanzo beans, rinsed and peeled
1 cup cilantro
1/2 cup Italian parsley
1 jalapeño, seeded
3/4 tsp salt
Juice of 1+ ½ limes
1/8 cup olive oil
2 Tbs non-fat yogurt (more or less according to consistency)
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Place the beans, cilantro, parsley, jalapeño, salt and lime in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse for at least two minutes, until well mixed and smooth, stopping to clean the sides of the bowl halfway through. Slowly add olive oil as the food processor is running.
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Stop the processor, add one or two tablespoons of yogurt, depending on how thick or runny your dip seems.  Taste and adjust seasoning.  Place in a container and refrigerate overnight for best flavor.
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ENJOY!
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to print the recipe, click here
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comphummus.
Comments:
  The composite picture above should help me convince the hummus-makers out there that peeling the chickpeas is a good move.  See all those peels on the first photo? I had worked maybe half of the can at that point. The peels have a bit of a slimy texture. Getting rid of them can only improve your masterpiece.
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hummus111.
This creamy dip is great with pita chips, Ak-mak crackers, carrot sticks, but trust me: it works tremendously well over grilled salmon, and it would certainly be great topping other grilled concoctions like chicken breasts, thick tuna steaks, pork tenderloin.  Of course, being a lover of cilantro is mandatory to enjoy this versatile “hummus”.
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