Classic hummus – the elevation of the chickpea!

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I really love chickpeas and hummus is the expression of all that is right and good about this humble, adorable legume. This savoury dip is great spread in sandwiches or served up with veggies and pita bread. It’s packed with fibre, protein, iron and magnesium.

My Lebanese pal, Roger, taught me how to take my hummus from good to great. Thank you, Roger!

You will need a food processor for this recipe (or the patience of a saint to mash and grind all your ingredients by hand). Okay, let’s go. You could have hummus in 5 minutes.

Ingredients

1 ½ cups chickpeas (that’s one 15 oz can drained and rinsed or ½ cup dried chickpeas cooked).

Juice of one lemon

1-2 cloves garlic cut in pieces

1 tsp sea salt

1/3 cup tahini

¼ to ½ tsp cumin

5-10 drops hot sauce (I use a chipotle hot sauce).

Directions

If you really want to show some love and have an extra 15 minutes, pop the skins off the chickpeas – just pinch the chickpea and the skin will come off. Removing the skins creates the most silky, smooth hummus you’ve ever had. Yes, it’s kind of tedious work but put on some great tunes and shed that skin (and discard them).

If you take the time to discard the skins you’ll have hummus in 20 minutes. If you skip this step, you’ll have hummus in 5!

If you leave the skins on, that’s cool too. You’ll have a more “rustic” texture. Roger confesses he far prefers the skinned chickpea version of hummus but rarely has the patience to do this step.

Put everything in your food processor and blend and blend and blend. You can add up to 1/3 cup water to make a creamier dip. Do NOT add olive oil at this stage. It can actually make the hummus a bit bitter.

Serve your hummus with a drizzle of good olive oil and a sprinkle of paprika.

Enjoy!

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Make room for muhummara – a tangy red pepper and walnut dip

Muhummara 

Muhummara

Move over hummus and make room for muhummara – a savory, almost meaty dip with a slightly sweet tang that makes it gorgeous to eat on endive leaves..

This dish does require a bit of planning. The peppers need time to roast and cool.

2 red peppers

1 cup walnut pieces – toasted

3 cloves garlic

½ tsp cumin

1 tsp red pepper flakes

The juice from one lemon

2 ½ Tbsp pomegranate molasses (find it in the foreign food section of larger supermarkets or in markets specializing in Middle Eastern and/or Halal foods).

3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp salt

½ cup bread crumbs (I used panko crumbs because vegan bread crumbs can be hard to find…Ryvita crackers can also be turned into excellent, vegan bread crumbs)

¼ cup tomato paste (TIP: buy a large can of tomato paste and dole it out into 2-tablespoon portions onto a wax paper-lined cookie sheet. Place it in the freezer and let the tomato paste dollops freeze ’til solid. Store the frozen dollops in a container and you’ll have tomato paste when you need it with no waste. I/4 cup is 4 tablespoons).

To toast the walnuts: Do this either in a dry frying pan on high heat, shaking constantly because the walnuts will burn in a flash. I prefer to toast my nuts and seeds in a toaster oven at 430F for 5 minutes.

To roast the peppers: remove the stems, cut the peppers in half lengthwise and remove the seeds. Place the peppers cut side down on a cookie sheet and roast at 450 for 10-15 minutes. They should be charred on the outside. Place the still-hot peppers in a paper bag. Roll the bag’s rim to seal it and let the peppers steam. When they’ve cooled down, their charred skins will slide right off. Gosh, doesn’t that sound so evil?

Once you have toasted walnuts and roasted peppers, everything comes together in mere minutes.

Put all the ingredients in a food processor and blend on high until you have a thick dip. You may need to scrape down the sides of the food processor bowl once or twice. You can enjoy the dip immediately or store in the fridge for up to 3 days. I find the muhummara is even better the next day.

Enjoy with endive leaves or crackers or pita bread. SO GOOD and something a little different!