Friday, March 26, 2010

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

I'll never forget once when Alicia's then boyfriend (now husband) Nick took a huge scoop of roasted red pepper hummus on a cracker thinking it was some type of cheese spread. The little tub of creamy light orange goodness sure looked like some kind of velveeta dip. Unfortunately, he spit it out and was totally disgusted. At first I thought it was pretty funny, but then I felt really sad for the poor hummus.

Because of course you wouldn't like hummus if you're expecting a rich cheese spread. But if you appreciate it for what it is, hummus is amazing! I love cheese just as much as the next girl. But given the choice, I would have hummus over cheese nine times out of ten. While hummus tastes nothing like cheese, it is a very good (and healthier) substitute for cheese. I like it for dipping - crackers, bread, carrots, celery, cucumbers, etc. and it's also great as a spread on turkey or veggie sandwiches and wraps.

Hummus is light and fresh from garbanzo beans (aka chickpeas) blended with lemon juice and garlic. It's slightly creamy from the beans and olive oil, a bit tart from the lemon juice, and this version gets another layer of flavor from roasted red peppers. Plus, eating hummus makes you feel good - it's full of fiber, iron, and protein.

I buy a lot of hummus in those little round tubs - usually around $4 for a couple ounces. But I thought I could be a little more frugal now that I know how to cook dried beans. So I made a batch of dried garbanzo beans (it made more than 3 pints, or 6 cups of beans) the other day. Remember, you can freeze beans and they defrost nicely!

And tonight I roasted red peppers for the first time ever! It was wicked easy, even though it does get kind of messy to scrape out the seeds and get the black outer skin off the pepper - but it's worth it!

I used one whole roasted pepper in the hummus, and the other one I covered with olive oil and am going to use in a frittata or on a pizza next week.

I ended up with four or five times as much hummus as the store-bought tubs, for about the same price. Good thing hummus freezes well so it doesn't go to waste!

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus
1 roasted red pepper (or 1 jar store-bought roasted red peppers, drained)
2 cups garbanzo beans, drained (or 1 can)
3 large garlic cloves, grated on a microplane or put through garlic press
juice of 1 lemon
2 Tbsp tahini paste (this is ground sesame seeds and it's vital to the recipe for richness and creaminess)
1/2 tsp salt
fresh cracked black pepper
extra virgin olive oil

First, roast the peppers by rubbing them all over with a light oil and put on your gas stove burner (also works on an outdoor grill or under your broiler). Use tongs to rotate until it's charred black and blistered all over. It will pop and sputter and hiss as the water is released. Once it's all charred, put in a bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap until it's cooled completely. The steam will loosen the skin so it's easy to peel. Cut the pepper open and scrape out seeds. Turn over and scrape off the black skin.

Put roasted pepper, beans, garlic, lemon juice, tahini paste, salt, and pepper in food processor. Pulse until all chopped. Turn on processor and stream in olive oil until it's a nice spreadable and dipable consistency. Taste and add any other seasonings you think are missing (more salt or lemon juice? It's up to you!)

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