Friday, 23 May 2014

Hummus... My Favourite Summer Spread and Greens

Warmer weather is upon us, and I hope it's here to stay. With warmer weather comes a whole new way of eating for this kid! I love the lighter foods during the spring and summer months.  Seasonal greens, the huge variety of salads, veggies and dip are the bomb, and of course, we can't forget the barbecue. The barbecue may be a little tricky for me this season because of my choice to cut down on my meat consumption, but that is for another post. 

I have been taking advantage of our local farmers market. One of the vendors there runs a chemical free farm. All of their produce is grown free of pesticides, herbicides and all things nasty. They aren't certified organic (that adds a lot to the overhead and the end cost of organic food), but I am confident that they are truly providing me with superior produce.  I have been enjoying a variety of mixed greens, Swiss chard, Russian kale (new to me this year), baby spinach, green onions, asparagus and fiddleheads. I tried fiddleheads for the first time but I can't say that they knocked my socks off. Maybe I didn't prepare them correctly. I will try them again next spring when they are in season.
Russian Kale - SO good in salads and green smoothies!

***Environmental Blurb*** As an aside, this farm also grows indigenous species of plants to sell to the public. Many plants in our gardens, are not from this country or area, and subsequently they "get away from us" because they are especially invasive, and are unleashed into nature. They take over our forests by choking out our indigenous species of greenery and trees.  For all you gardeners... this is NOT a pretty sight and something to be cautious about!

As I mentioned, I love eating dips in the warmer months.  One of my favourites is hummus. I have enjoyed hummus, even before my more plant based food journey. In fact, it was my preferred way to eat legumes... Well at least chickpeas!  On one of my grocery store trips, I decided to go all out and pick up a small sized bag of dried chickpeas, just to try. Traditionally, I have always opted to canned beans.  They are convenient, but as of late, I have been concerned about the BPA in canned goods. In addition, when you look at the price of 1 can of beans and look at the price of a bag of uncooked beans, the money saved is so worth a little prep and cooking time! Essentially I got 3 cans of cooked beans for the price of 1 can! I LOVE budget friendly food.

So, for the very first time, I prepared my own freshly prepared chickpeas. I soaked them overnight, drained them and cooked them till tender. Cooking soaked beans take 60 to 90 minutes. Not a hard process at all. I can't recall exactly how long I cooked mine, but I started doing "taste tests" around the 60 minute mark.  Once they were tender, I drained and rinsed them in colander. When they were drained, I poured them onto a tea towel lined baking sheet to remove all excess water. From this point, I poured 4 cups of the cooked beans into a container to be put into the refrigerator. I had plans for them (hummus and chickpea patties). For the remainder of the beans (conveniently, 2 more cups), I put into a mason jar to freeze them for a future use. I didn't know you could freeze them... I will let you know how my future chickpea recipe turns out using the frozen ones. As an added note about dried beans, my hummus and chickpea patties made from freshly cooked chickpeas were such a success, and now that I know that cooking them is SO easy, I decided to buy the HUGE bag pictured below.  Whoot... 2 Kilos of chickpeas and oh, so many more servings of hummus and a variety of MUST TRY new recipes! I can't wait.


And now... onto Hummus!  My favourite spread for snacks, lunches and light dinners.

Tada! Hummus so darn good, I think I could ice a cake with it.  This recipe is essentially Michael Bonacini's recipe that I have been using over the years. It is the recipe he provided from a City Line episode so many years ago.  Today, I ramped it up with the zest of half a lemon.  It was a perfect choice. The flavour of the hummus was raised to levels unknown to the run of the mill hummus'. I highly recommend it! Besides, since you need the freshly squeezed lemon, <BUDGET TIP> you might as well use the zest! 


I enjoy hummus with whole grain pitas, or "Thinbuns" (by Dempsters), or crackers; with veggies; or spread on a soft tortilla loaded with fresh greens and vegies, rolled up for a lunch. Oh the possibilities for this amazing Middle Eastern spread!


2 cups canned chickpeas (1 16-oz can)  (I used my freshly cooked one) 
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 tbsp tahini
1/2 tsp cumin
2 cloves lightly, finely minced 
Zest of 1/2 lemon (I added this component and I really like it 
Salt to taste
Water, as required, approx. 1/4 cup
(at serving time, optional, but quite lovely)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp sweet paprika
1 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped

When I made my hummus today, I used 1 teaspoon of good quality, large grind salt. If I were using canned chickpeas as I have done in the past, I use much less because the canned beans are generally salted. Note of caution, add your salt in small increments, tasting as you go, so as not to over salt the hummus.
Rinse and drain chickpeas in a small colander. (If using home prepared beans, you don't need to rinse and drain because you already did it!) Place in a food processor or blender, and add the lemon juice, tahini, cumin, garlic and if using, the lemon zest. Puree until almost smooth with a little texture, adding a little water if necessary. Adjust seasoning to taste. Once desired consistency is reached, remove to a shallow serving dish.
Many people prefer this dip at room temperature. Yes, the flavours seem to brighten and intensify as the spread warms up a bit. For me, I am too impatient to wait that long!  If you like, you can drizzle with olive oil, and garnish with paprika and parsley, it does look really pretty.  I usually do this when entertaining.  But at the end of the day, I would be happy eating hummus standing in front of the refrigerator, door open, spoon in hand, and eating it straight out of the container!
Hummus with veggies and a mixed greens salad for dinner
Hummus with snap peas, red peppers and whole grain pita

The store bought hummus is not too bad; just fine in a pinch. Yes, it is convenient but when you have made homemade hummus ONCE, you will never want to go back there again. It is an easy and economical dish! 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please leave me a comment. I would love to hear what you have to say!