Summer hummus and easy salad/sides

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Pickled cucumbers with cilantro. Photo by Keri White

I am a huge fan of hummus. It’s something that we always have in the fridge. Mostly, I buy a quality brand at the supermarket, but every so often I get the urge to make my own and, gosh, it is good! I’ve developed a recipe that is based on Michael Solomonov’s hummus. It’s a version of his dish that works in my kitchen with my equipment, my level of patience and my willingness to fuss with the ingredients. Further fan-girling the esteemed chef, I created a few summer salatim (salad/sides) recipes to go with the hummus. I have written about salatim before — and the recipes generally required cooking the vegetables — in the case of my eggplant, twice, but with the heat waves that roll through our fair city in summer, roasting vegetables is not tempting. Fortunately, local summer produce is so fresh and delicious that cooking is not required. I did some “refrigerator pickling,” and the results were quite good. We paired this with some crusty whole grain bread, and dinner was sorted out for two days. And if you don’t have the time or inclination to make your own hummus, don’t bother. You can buy a quality brand from a grocery store or takeout from a restaurant, and round out your meal with salads and bread.

Hummus

Serves 8-10 generously This recipe makes quite a bit; fortunately, it keeps in the fridge for several days. If you wish to make a smaller quantity, you can cut the recipe in half. For the chickpeas 1.5 pounds chickpeas Pinch baking soda Soak the chickpeas overnight, if desired, or do an “express” soak by bringing them to a boil, removing them from the heat and letting them sit for an hour. Regardless of your soaking method, drain the peas and start the cooking process with fresh water. If you don’t have the time or inclination to soak, fear not. They may take a bit longer to cook, but that’s not the end of the world, Cover them with water, add a pinch of baking soda and bring it to a boil. Lower the heat, cover and keep it at a simmer for several hours until the chickpeas are soft and mushy. You can’t really overcook them. For the tahina 5 cloves garlic, peeled 4 lemons, cut in wedges Salt to taste (be generous — start with a teaspoon) 1 15-ounce can tahini Cold water In a blender, place the garlic and lemon wedges with a few pinches of salt. Puree. Add some water to let the mixture move around to blend if needed. It should be smooth and thick when done. Pour this mixture into a strainer over a bowl and press the solids to capture all the liquid, Make sure you get it all, as this is where the flavor comes from. Pour this back into the blender and add the tahini. Puree again, adding cold water as needed to loosen it up; you may need to add up to a cup to achieve the right texture. It should be pourable, but kind of thick. Taste the tahina. If it is bland, puree some more garlic with lemon juice and salt, and add it to the tahina. When the chickpeas are done, drain them and return them to the pot. Pour the dressing into the pot and, using an immersion blender, puree to your desired texture. Add salt or lemon juice if needed. Serve warm or chilled with salatim, if desired.


Quick Pickled Cucumbers with Cilantro

Serves 4 with other sides/salads A note on the cucumbers: if you use Persian or English cucumbers, they don’t really need to be peeled, which is my preference. But if you can’t get your hands on those, just peel and slice the cukes — or be OK with a thicker skin. This will keep for several days in the fridge and the flavors will deepen. 2 cucumbers, sliced into discs 2 tablespoons white vinegar ¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped Salt and pepper to taste Mix all the ingredients in a small bowl. Let it sit at room temperature for an hour or two, or longer in the fridge.

Quick Pickled Carrots with Dill

Serves 4 with other sides/salads I feel the same way about carrots that I do about most vegetables: Peeling is optional. 4-6 carrots, cut in coins 2 tablespoons cider vinegar ¼ cup fresh dill, chopped 1 teaspoon sesame seeds Salt and pepper to taste Mix all the ingredients in a small bowl. Let it sit at room temperature for an hour or two, or longer in the fridge.

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