Saturday, July 18, 2009

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

We ran into a friend in the grocery store yesterday and he asked me what I was making ---and I said hummus -- and he said why would you bother making that? Why not just buy it? And I mumbled something unintelligible back, trying to defend myself.

I wish I were a quick thinker and had come back with these snappy answers--- I would have said because it tastes so fresh!! and the texture is so much better than store bought!! And it fills the house with wonderful smells!! and it is easy!! I am always looking for easy hors d'oeuvres, especially ones for Summer.

But then afterwards, his wife wrote to me requesting the recipe! So, he must be wondering too.

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus
adapted from Mediterranean, pg. 38

Fyi - I decided to make this variation of the classic, because I had an opened jar of roasted red peppers in the fridge.

3/4 cup dried chickpeas ( I used 2.5 cups already cooked; canned work too)
juice of 2 lemons ( I used 3)
2 garlic cloves, sliced ( I used 6 minced)
2 T. Olive oil ( I used the good stuff: Prato Longo from Long Meadow Ranch)
2/3 cup tahini paste (It's sesame paste --it comes in a jar -- Greek)
Jar of roasted red peppers, drained, dried, and chopped roughly (about 5)
salt and pepper to taste
extra olive oil and cayenne pepper
parsley for garnish

Soak chickpeas overnight in lots of cold water. Drain and cover with fresh water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and boil rapidly for 10 minutes, then reduce heat and simmer gently for about 1 hour, until soft, but not mushy. Drain. I salted them and coated lightly in oil, because I made them in advance and stored them in the refrigerator in a plastic container.

I put everything in my food processor, except the roasted red peppers because I still wasn't sure that the red peppers were going to work, and whizzed it together. You can stop here if you want the classic hummus.

But, I was kind of excited about seeing what the roasted red peppers would add in flavor, and what color it would become. Would it become a pretty red or ugly mush?

Curiosity won. I put them in and pulsed it a few times and scraped down the sides. Wow! the red peppers took over beautifully.

But, I had to re-balance it with a third lemon and more salt and olive oil. The key to good hummus seems to be lots of fresh lemon and enough salt. Don't be shy with the salt. Chickpeas, and most beans, require more salt than you think. Tom wanted more garlic, so I put more in for him.

We served it with store bought baked pita chips, but regular pita bread sliced into triangles work well, especially if toasted, to give them some structure for dipping in the hummus.

Here's the cookbook I used -- I pick up regional cookbooks like this in used bookstores for a few bucks -- they tend to explain the ingredients and some of the history behind the dish -- and this one has lots of great photos with step by step instructions. Inexpensive, yet very helpful, and inspiring.

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