A riff on hummus

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Photo by Keri White

I know, I know, why mess with perfection?

Hummus is practically its own food group in my house. Whether it’s the store-bought version we pull out as a quick snack on the run or a gussied up homemade version ala Zahav, served warm with various salatim for a decadent vegetarian meal, we all simply love it.


But I got to thinking, what if I mixed it up? Swap out a different type of beans for the chickpeas. Take the flavor profile in another direction, say, South American? Make the salatim to complement this new concoction.

Well, it was a revelation. We loved this, well, for lack of a better term, Argentine hummus. It featured white beans in place of the chickpeas and chimichurri in place of the tahina. I bought the chimichurri from a local chef who was selling her wares at the Sisterly Love Food Fair, but it is certainly something that can be made without tremendous difficulty.

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This experiment was so deliciously successful, I am contemplating other variations on the theme —cannellini beans and pesto with crusty semolina bread or pinto beans and salsa with tortillas. Stay tuned!

Argentine ‘Hummus’


Serves 4-6 as a meal or more as an appetizer

We served this with a sampling of vegetable dishes (see below) and crusty bread.

1 pound white beans, soaked and drained

Pinch baking soda

1½ cups chimichurri sauce, either homemade or bought

Salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot, cover the soaked beans with water — it should be filled to about 3 inches above the beans. Add a pinch of baking soda; this alters the pH of the water and is said to deliver softer beans. Bring the beans to a boil, then cover them and lower the heat. Simmer for about 2 hours until the beans are soft. You can’t really overcook the beans, so if you are in doubt, give them some more time to simmer.

Drain the beans, return them to the pot, and add chimichurri. Using an immersion blender, puree the “hummus” to the desired texture and taste; add salt and pepper as needed. Serve warm, at room temperature or chilled.

 

Char-roasted Broccolini

Serves 2 -4

We love the char on a vegetable; it gives it a depth, heft and crunch. But if your crew prefers a less-blackened version, simply cook this for less time

 

1 bunch broccolini, rinsed and tough stem trimmed

1 tablespoon oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Juice of ½ lime

 

Heat your oven to 400 degrees. Line a small baking sheet with parchment. Toss the broccolini with the oil, salt and pepper and spread it onto the sheet. Bake it for about 30 minutes until the vegetables are charred. Remove the broccolini from the oven, place it in a bowl and spritz it with lime.

 

Cumin-Cayenne Spiced Carrot Coins

Serves 4

I used rainbow carrots here, but the regular orange ones work just fine. I also cut them into coins for quick cooking, but you can roast them whole or in larger chunks, if preferred. The cayenne pepper packs a punch, and complements the sweetness of the carrots nicely.

If the heat is too much for you and your crew, simply omit or reduce it and, if you are spice lovers, give it an extra sprinkle.

 

1 bunch carrots, sliced into coins

1 tablespoon oil

1½ teaspoon ground cumin

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

½ teaspoon salt

 

Heat your oven to 400 degrees. Line a cooking tray with parchment. Toss the carrots with the oil and seasonings. Spread them out onto the tray in a single layer. Roast the carrots until the desired doneness, about 20 minutes, or longer if browning or charring is desired.

 

Beets and Greens

Serves 4

I use both parts of the beet — the greens are wonderfully nutritious, and I feel like I’m getting an extra vegetable “for free” when I buy a bunch of beets with the greens attached.

 

For the beets:

4 beets

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Boil the beets in lightly salted water in a medium-sized saucepan for about 30 minutes, depending on their size. Drain them and set them aside. When they’re cool enough to handle, peel the beets and chop them into bite-sized chunks. Toss them with salt and pepper. Serve warm or chilled.

 

For the greens:

Greens from 4 beets, rinsed well and chopped, stems included

1 tablespoon oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon red chili flakes

Juice of ½ lemon

In a large skillet, heat the oil and garlic over medium until it is sizzling. Add the salt and chili flakes, then the greens. Using tongs, turn the greens over regularly to ensure even cooking. When done, about 6-8 minutes, spritz them with lemon juice and serve.

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