Sunday, March 8, 2009

Rule: A pinch of cayenne improves most anything

I had a book club meeting at 1:30 today, and at 1:10 I realized that I hadn't prepared a dish to take (it's always potluck).  So, I slipped on my shoes, grabbed my grocery bag, and walked down the street to Publix.  I picked up a couple cans of chickpeas, a lemon, a new head of garlic (what I have is looking a little shabby), carrot chips, and whole wheat pita bread.  I decided to break the only-eat-bread-you-make rule, even though homemade pita tastes a gazillion times better than what you can buy at the supermarket.  I then dashed home and made a batch of hummus to take with me.
I know a lot of people who buy pre-made hummus, and it seems like such a shame because it is so easy to make it yourself.  I understand that there are plenty of people who simply do not enjoy cooking, but this is such a snap that I don't think it even falls into that category.  Plus, you don't use heat.'s really just mixing a lot of yummy things together.
I don't use a recipe for hummus.  Instead, I just throw together the ingredients and taste and adjust until I'm happy with the dip.  Here's an idea of how I put it together:

Hummus (a sort-of recipe)
Put one can drained chickpeas (I like to read the label and find a brand that contains only chickpeas and water -- no preservatives), a generous spoonful of tahini, 2-3 cloves garlic, and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice (don't worry if the seeds fall in) in a food processor.  Add approximately 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil and blend until smooth.  If you have trouble blending everything add a little water or more olive oil.  Once the hummus is smooth, taste and season with salt and pepper.  At this point I almost always add a pinch of cayenne pepper.  I find that it livens up the other ingredients and gives the hummus a nice zing.  Adjust all seasonings until you are satisfied and serve with any of the following: pita bread, carrot chips, cucumber slices, celery sticks, zucchini slices.  A small bowl of kalamata olives makes an excellent accompaniment.   Before serving I like to sprinkle the hummus with Hungarian paprika, drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil on top, and garnish with lemon slices and fresh dill.  
Depending on my mood, I sometimes amp up an ingredient to give the hummus a little more personality.  A few extra squeezes of lemon lead to a bright, crisp flavor.  Boosting the garlic can be nice if you want a little extra kick.  If I want a creamy, nutty hummus I add more tahini and a few drops of dark sesame oil.  Play with the flavors until you find what you like.  
The hummus was a big hit at book club, and a couple of people asked me if I made it myself.  Seriously, it's so simple to make that it shouldn't even be sold in stores pre-made (I'm exaggerating, of course).  Hooray for the last-minute hummus!

No comments:

Post a Comment