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Hummus Two Ways

Seasoned simply with salt, hummus really is the sort of thing we can all whip up at a moments notice since the pantry staples used are common and relatively inexpensive. Never mind that blending it up is a snap. And because the chickpeas, the primary ingredients of this dip, happen to be packed with fiber and protein and are naturally low in fat, hummus can be enjoyed as an everyday food, fit for foodies and fast-food junkies alike.

Our pantry is stocked with a mix of chickpeas (garbanzos) canned and dried, which we add to soups, pasta dishes, and veggie hashes. Puréed with tahini and garlic (fresh or roasted), chickpeas become thick, creamy hummus, perfect as a dip for toasted pita and raw veggies. The tahini adds richness in the form of sesame oil. The garlic, when raw, adds flavor and heat, depending on how much of it you use. And when the garlic is roasted the unami flavor is at it’s peak! Toasted cumin, while not traditional, lends an earthy depth of flavor to hummus, while the lemon juice brightens it.

You can imagine, given its texture and mild neutral flavor, that puréed chickpea mixes well with other flavors. Here, we’ve gone in a couple of different directions. In one batch, we added puréed butternut squash to the hummus and topped it all with sage-infused olive oil and toasted pumpkin seeds. In the second batch, we added roasted eggplant and freshly ground cumin seeds. Any type of roasted or cooked vegetable can be pureed and added to hummus. It’s a great way to sneak in some extra nutrition while adding a unique spin on a traditional middle eastern classic.

We’re already planning our next batch of hummus. Using roasted pureed beets which will add sweetness and dramatic color to the dip as well as an earthy, vegetal taste. It will be the perfect thing to contribute to a Labor day get together.

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Roasted Butternut Squash Hummus

2 cups cooked chickpeas in water (canned ok, homemade preferred)
2 cups roasted butternut squash
5 cloves roasted garlic
1/2 cup tahini
1 tablespoon cumin seeds, freshly ground
4 tablespoons olive oil
8-10 sage leaves
1/4 cup toasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
salt & pepper

Drain the chickpeas, reserving the water. Add them to a food processor along with the squash, tahini, ground cumin, salt and pepper. Pulse a few times then process for a minute or two until a smoothish consistency, adding two tablespoons olive oil through the feeding tube during the process. If the hummus is too thick, add a little of the reserved bean water. Season with salt and pepper.

Heat the other two tablespoons olive oil in a small sauce pan until hot. Add the sage leaves a few at a time, cooking until the leaves are fried, anywhere from 30 seconds to a minute or two, depending on the size of the sage leaves. Drain the leaves on a paper towel and set aside to cool. Allow oil to cool.

Once the leaves are cool, set aside a few of the nicest leaves for garnish and then crumble the rest into the hummus and pulse a few more times. Season with salt and pepper.

Transfer the hummus into a serving bowl and top with the reserved fried sage leaves and sage oil. Sprinkle on toasted pumpkin seeds.

Serve with toasted pita chips.

Roasted Eggplant Hummus

2 cups cooked chickpeas in water (canned ok, homemade preferred)
2 cups roasted eggplant
5 cloves roasted garlic
1/2 cup tahini
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon cumin seeds, freshly ground
salt & pepper

Drain the chickpeas, reserving the water. Add them to a food processor along with the roasted eggplant, tahini, ground cumin, salt and pepper. Pulse a few times then process for a minute or two until a smoothish consistency, adding the olive oil through the feeding tube during the process. If the hummus is too thick, add a little of the reserved bean water. Season with salt and pepper.

Transfer the hummus to a serving bowl and top with a little more ground cumin, and a drizzle of olive oil.

Serve with toasted pita chips.

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Whipping up a batch of Mayo

Now that we are coming into summer with Memorial Day just around the corner, creamy potato salads, grilled burgers, and plenty of other great picnic foods have finally returned to our tables and plates. Mayonnaise is a one of those condiments/ingredients that most people buy store bought, and until recently we were included in the group. Last week, we were out of the stuff in a jar, so we decided to make our own. The ingredient list is short and the technique is pretty straight forward, but it’s work. Whisking while slowly pouring oil into the bowl drip-by-drip is hard work. Seriously!

There are some things that demand a little mayo, like that potato salad, fried chicken sandwiches and grilled cheese. Seriously, for the best grilled cheese sandwich, spread mayo on the outer sides of the bread instead of butter or oil. Since mayo is mostly oil, it frys up the bread and creates a nice crunchy crust. Trust us, you’ll agree.

Most mayo recipes suggest a neutral oil like canola or safflower. We had neither, just regular extra virgin olive oil. The olive oil is a little grassy and peppery, but delicious for our needs and works well for sandwiches and salads.

Whip up a batch the next time your out of your favorite jar, or if you just need a good one arm workout.

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Olive Oil Mayonnaise
adapted from Good Eats

1 egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
A pinch of sugar
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 cup olive oil

In a glass bowl, combine the egg yolk and dry ingredients.

In a separate bowl, combine lemon juice and vinegar.

Whisk half of lemon and vinegar with egg yolk mixture until blended and then start whisking oil in drips into the egg mixture until it starts to thicken into an emulsion. Increase the stream of oil while you continue to whisk vigorously (you may sweat a little), making sure not to add the oil too quickly. Once all the oil is added, you should have a nice, creamy but soft mayo. Let sit for a couple of hours at room temperature, then refrigerate.