Peas, Love, and Hummus

Hummus has been a historically divisive food, causing rifts between nations that have occasionally escalated into all-out wars. I’m not here to start a fight about who made it first or best, though. Today, I’d like to shine a light on how it can be just as powerfully unifying in the right hands. Pardon the pun, but it’s true; everyone just needs to give peas a chance.

Years ago when my dad took up residence overseas for his job, I thought for sure that this was the beginning of the end. What family could withstand such severe, prolonged separation? This was before the age of COVID quarantines of course, but still, it was hard to imagine how any relationship could survive the prolonged distance.

Before we had Zoom, we had Skype. Like clockwork, every weekend, I somehow convinced my omnivorous father to cook with me, creating a recipe simultaneously yet separately. I would make mine for lunch in Connecticut, while he would enjoy his for dinner in Germany. There were a few memorable gems that he still makes today, which is truly a feat for a man of few favorite foods and little interest in cooking. If I had to pick one single greatest hit, it would have to be hummus.

Both of us ate hummus by the gallon at the time, yet he had never so much as considered going straight to the source and starting from scratch. Now, years later, both of us are so thoroughly spoiled by homemade hummus that it’s become impossible to go back to store-bought. Just like that, one simple recipe brought us back together, in our isolated kitchens divided by thousands of miles and a number of time zones.

Recreating this basic bean dip together for the first time as an early Father’s Day celebration was probably more of a treat for me than him. Seeing how he took that essential formula and made it his own was even more gratifying than the rich, savory, and creamy taste.

Adding vegan chicken bouillon for an additional depth of flavor and all the salt it needs, he adds volumes of flavor with this concentrated umami bomb. From there, he adds a splash of liquid smoke to give the creamy mixture an uncanny baba ganoush character, without fussing with any roasted eggplant. A bare hint of spice creeps in on the back end, providing a subtle warmth that lingers after every bite. It’s a brilliant, harmonious combination that’s both simple on paper, yet stunningly complex on the palate.

To all the fathers and people who love them, Happy Father’s Day. I hope you’re all so lucky to have someone to make hummus with, virtually or in-person.

Continue reading “Peas, Love, and Hummus”

Dip, Dip, Hooray

In the battle for snack supremacy, the competition is fierce, but a few front runners have emerged from the pack. Potential winners are obvious from any vantage point in the bleachers, if you just take a moment to look at the odds. Think back and try to remember the last time you attended a decent party that didn’t have a bottomless bowlful of hummus on display, for starters. And what would Taco Tuesday be without nacho cheese in ample supply- Maybe just Tortilla Tuesday? All bets are off when it comes to picking a winner between the two, but I think I have a solution that neither side would see as a compromise.

Nacho hummus, bearing all the cheesy, spicy decadence of a good queso dip with the more substantial heft of a chickpea spread. The two rivals complement and contrast one another with surprising ease, a natural union that has been long overdue.

Whether you smear it in a pita, thin it out to drizzle on corn chips, or just set it out with cut vegetable crudites and let the crowd go wild, it’s a fool-proof formula deserving of a gold medal.

Yield: Makes 6 - 10 Servings as an Appetizer

Nacho Hummus

Nacho Hummus

Nacho hummus, bearing all the cheesy, spicy decadence of a good queso dip with the more substantial heft of a chickpea spread.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 14-Ounce Can (or 1 1/2 Cups Cooked) Chickpeas, Drained and Rinsed
  • 1/2 Red Pepper, Seeded and Roasted, Chopped
  • 1/3 Cup Nutritional Yeast
  • 1 Tablespoon Tomato Paste
  • 1 Chipotle Pepper Packed in Adobo Sauce
  • 1 Clove Garlic, Chopped
  • 1/4 Cup Lemon Juice
  • 3 Tablespoons Tahini
  • 1 Teaspoon Dijon Mustard
  • 1 Teaspoon Onion Powder
  • 3/4 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Ground Cumin
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Smoked Paprika
  • 1/4 – 3/4 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
  • 1/4 – 1/3 Cup Olive Oil
  • Thinly Sliced Scallions, to Garnish (Optional)

Instructions

  1. Like any other hummus variant, this dip couldn’t be easier or quicker to prepare. Toss the chickpeas, roasted red pepper, tomato paste, chipotle, and garlic, and lemon juice into your food processor. Pulse to being breaking down the ingredients and pause to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add in the tahini, mustard, and all the seasonings and spices, starting with just 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne.
  2. Puree, and while the motor is running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil, until the mixture is silky-smooth and it reaches your desired consistency. If you’d like it to be more of a sauce than a spread, follow that with water or vegetable stock, as needed. Adjust the spice level to taste.
  3. Top with sliced scallions and dip the day away!

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

10

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 202Total Fat: 16gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 13gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 291mgCarbohydrates: 11gFiber: 4gSugar: 2gProtein: 5g

Spread Hope

Once relatively unheard of in the US, the popularity of hummus has risen to astronomic new heights within the condiment hierarchy. Now rivaling longtime champions ketchup and salsa for top honors, it’s more noteworthy when you can’t find this beloved dip at any establishment selling food. No where is the craze made clearer than in the mainstream marketplace, where even corner store bodegas are likely to carry at least one or two brands. For that matter, there’s a good chance you can even scrounge up a package of the creamy chickpea puree at your local drug store, right alongside the emergency rations of plain saltine crackers and white bread. It’s impossible to escape, as if anyone would ever want to, but such an overwhelming abundance of options does make it challenging to weed out the winners and losers in the field.

Hope Hummus sets itself apart from the pack by blending up unique yet approachable flavors that offer a delicious departure from the average bean dip. Sure, there’s still the austere plain and garlic options for the traditionalist, providing a solid standby for the pickiest palates, but greater gustatory adventures await the more intrepid eater. Heat things up with Thai Coconut Curry or Sriracha hummus, or explore new territory entirely with sweet Dark Chocolate hummus.

Though I can’t claim to have experienced the full range of inventive combinations, it’s only a matter of time before I can hunt them down, since my initial experiences have proven so gratifying. Picking favorites is never easy, but I need to give a special shout out to the Kale Pesto hummus, which combines everyone’s favorite leafy green superfood with basil pesto, lending vibrant, fresh flavor to this coarse blend. Primed for any party platter, it also strikes me as a promising candidate for enlivening creamy pasta sauce or topping a bowlful of piping hot tomato soup. Speaking of hot, Spicy Avocado hummus lights a smoldering savory flavor with piquant jalapeno peppers, tempered by creamy avocado. Though not nearly a five-alarm fire, it certainly boasted a well-defined spice that would appease any heat seekers in the crowd.

In this booming category, surprisingly few variations can be found on the classic staple, despite increasing demands. Hope Hummus is one company clearly thinking outside the plastic tub while always emphasizing high quality, organic ingredients. For a quick fix snack, consider branching out and trying their fresh twists on hummus next time.

Bread Meets Spread

“Have you heard of HUMMUS?” you might ask of a caveman recently unearthed after a million-year marathon nap. Now as ubiquitous as ketchup or salsa, hummus has managed to surpass all cultural boundaries, weaving its way into the homes and hearts of food lovers worldwide. What might be a more relevant question in this day and age is “Have you heard of MASABACHA?” Hummus’s lesser-know cousin should rank just as highly on the snacking scale, and yet somehow lacks the same renown, barely registering as a blip on the radar. Depending on your circle of friends, it might also be referred to as msabbaha, musabbaha, or even mashausha. Consider it deconstructed hummus, replete with whole chickpeas and a tangy lemon tahini sauce to bind them all together. From that base, the sky’s the limit; fancier, more fun renditions include everything from pine nuts and paprika to a smattering of herbs and hard-boiled eggs. When you can choose your own adventure with such savory results, what’s not to love about this chunky chickpea dip?

Although I would never be so bold as to say that there’s room to improve on the classic, I would venture to suggest that there’s always room to innovate. Instead of serving up the tried and true masabacha with bread and the standard accoutrements, let’s skip the middleman and combine the whole array of irresistible flavors. Bean-based bread is nothing new, but this particular yeast-risen loaf is a veritable ode to the humble legume, employing both chickpea flour and whole, seasoned and roasted garbanzo beans. Richly spiced with cumin, coriander, and my current favorite, smoked paprika, the aroma that engulfs the kitchen as it bakes is positively maddening. Just try not to tear into the hot, freshly baked loaf right away- it genuinely does improve with just a bit of patience. The spices take their sweet (and savory) time to mingle and for them to reach their collective peak of flavor, so it’s important to sit by and let it cool completely before diving in.

It is with great pleasure that I’m sharing this magnificent baked good in honor of the 9th Annual World Bread Day. I haven’t missed a single celebration since the birth of BitterSweet, and I don’t intend to sit out for one yet! Although I hate picking favorites amongst recipes, this entry definitely ranks highly on my list of most crave-worthy submissions thus far. Be sure to check out the roundup coming in the next few days for more yeasted inspiration.

World Bread Day 2014 (submit your loaf on October 16, 2014)

Masabacha Bread

3 Cups White Whole Wheat or All Purpose Flour
1/2 Cup Chickpea Flour
1 Teaspoon Lemon Zest
1 Teaspoon Smoked Paprika
1 Teaspoon Dried Parsley
1/2 Teaspoon Ground Cumin
1/2 Teaspoon Cumin Seeds
1/2 Teaspoon Ground Coriander
1/4 Teaspoon Dried Oregano
1 Tablespoon Light Agave Nectar
1 1/2 Teaspoons Salt
1 Packet Dry Active Yeast
1 1/4 Cups Warm Water
1/4 Cup Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons Tahini
1 Cup Crunchy Roasted Chickpeas, Store-Bought or Homemade
1/4 Cup Toasted Pine Nuts

Mix together both flours with all of the herbs and spices in a large bowl. Separately, whisk together the agave, salt, yeast, warm water, oil, and tahini. Once fully blended, let the mixture stand briefly until the yeast reawakens, becoming active and frothy. pour the liquid ingredients into the bowl of dry, and mix well. Now would be a great time to pull out the dough hook attachment on your stand mixer if you have one, but no matter your equipment, stir thoroughly to bring the dough together with no remaining dry patches. The resulting dough should be fairly soft, but continue to knead it until smooth, elastic, and somewhat tacky; about 15 – 20 minutes by hand or 10 – 15 minutes by hook, with the mixer on the lowest setting.

Lightly grease a large, clean bowl. Shape your kneaded dough into a smooth ball before dropping it in, rolling it around lightly to coat it with the oil. Cover loosely and and let it rest in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in volume. This could take anywhere from 45 minutes – 1 1/2 hours, depending on your climate.

Grease an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan and set aside. Once properly puffy, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and use your knuckles to gently work through the air bubbles. Add in the chickpeas and pine nuts, kneading the whole loaf until the goodies are completely worked in and well-distributed. Work the dough into a rough rectangle no wider than the length of your pan, and roll the dough up into a neat cylinder. Place the dough log into the pan, seam side down, and let rest for another 30 – 60 minutes, until approximately doubled in size, or until it’s peeking about 1/4-inch over the rim of the pan. While you’re waiting, begin preheating your oven to 400 degrees.

When the loaf is fully risen and the oven has reached the proper temperature, slide the pan into the oven. Immediately drop the heat down to 375 degrees and bake for 30 – 40 minutes, until deeply golden brown all over. Let cool in the pan for about 10 – 15 minutes before turning it out onto a wire rack to finish cooling. No matter the temptation, all it to come all the way down to room temperature before slicing and enjoying.

Makes 1 Loaf

Printable Recipe

Two Great Tastes That Taste Great Together

Now where did I put that recipe? My filing system is hardly fool-proof, and probably completely incomprehensible to anyone other than me, but rarely do I lose recipes entirely. All works in progress are always digital, at least, so there aren’t a hundred scraps of splattered and stained paper piled high on tables or shoved into desk drawers. Most are now carefully organized into the graciously all-inclusive cloud, always searchable and instantly backed up, putting my anxious mind at ease. That’s why it’s confounding when things still slip through the cracks, despite the care taken to prevent such disasters. Misplacing a recipe for something as stunningly delicious as this hummus recipe, for example, was nearly a snacking tragedy.

Dramatic words indeed, but this particular mash-up of both that beloved garbanzo bean spread and cool, creamy cucumber tzatziki exceeded even my own expectations from the very first batch. Lighter and fresher than the typical dip, crisp cucumbers added textural contrast so often missing from hummus. Zesty lemon and dill brightened the flavor profile considerably, imparting an unmistakably summery flavor, even if made in the heart of winter. I had made it numerous times before and thought for sure that such a winning savory delight must have surely made it on the blog already. Searching through the archives turned up precisely zero matches though, much to my growing fear, and the hunt was on. Nope, not in the aforementioned cloud. Not on the laptop. Not on the external hard drive. Not even published anywhere- Which it truly deserved to be. How could I let something as wonderful as that hummus go extinct?

Dejectedly accepting that it was gone for good, it was only then that the recipe found me. Hiding in the darkest corner of the desktop computer, in a long forgotten file, there it sat, waiting patiently to see the light of day. Introductions are long overdue, but thank goodness you can finally meet the one that almost got away. Snatch up the recipe and save it well! After trying it just once, you’d feel the sting of longing if you misplaced it, too.

Yield: 3 1/2 - 4 Cups

Hummiki (Hummus-Tzatziki)

Hummiki (Hummus-Tzatziki)

Lighter and fresher than the typical dip, crisp cucumbers added textural contrast so often missing from hummus. Zesty lemon and dill brightened the flavor profile considerably, imparting an unmistakably summery flavor, even if made in the heart of winter.

Ingredients

  • 3/4 Cup Plain, Unsweetened Vegan Yogurt
  • 1 15-Ounce Can (1 3/4 Cup) Chickpeas, Drained and Rinsed
  • 2 Large Cloves Roasted Garlic
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • Zest and Juice of 1/2 Lemon
  • 1 Tablespoon Chopped Fresh Dill
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Ground Cumin
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1 Cup Seeded and Finely Diced Cucumber

Instructions

  1. Toss all of the ingredients into your trusty food processor or blender, except for the cucumber, and puree thoroughly, until silky-smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed to get everything mixed in, and give the machine ample time to blend. For the best consistency, it may take as long as 5 – 10 minutes, so be patient.
  2. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Stir in the chopped cucumber by hand, and chill for at least 2 hours before serving for the best flavor. It will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week… If you can resist eating it all long before then.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

16

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 57Total Fat: 2gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 1mgSodium: 95mgCarbohydrates: 7gFiber: 1gSugar: 4gProtein: 2g