Sunday, May 31, 2009

Give Chick Peas a Chance!!!

I love ethnic food. The smells, exotic spice blends, pronounced flavors and the luxury of indulging in handmade, labor intensive food that I didn’t prepare. I call it “kitchen Art”.

One of my favorites is Hummus—that tangy yet bland spread served in Mediterranean restaurants along with warm pita bread. In the Middle East there are restaurants that serve nothing but a variety of hummus.

Packaged Hummus sells for between $7.00-$12.00 at the grocery store. I made a remarkable discovery. I can make this nutritious, low fat, complete protein vegan dish from start to finish in less than five minutes in my food processor for less than $2.00 per pound. No cooking required!

Hummus is a “loanword” --a transliteration from Arabic. The main ingredient in hummus is the chickpea or garbanzo bean in Spanish. Fresh lemon juice, garlic and salt, spices and tahini paste or yogurt gives hummus its tang.

Personally, I prefer hummus made with tahini rather than yogurt but it is delicious either way! Tahini is a loanword, too. Think peanut butter made out of toasted sesame seeds. Tahini can be purchased at a specialty grocer for about .40 an ounce. It comes in a can and is usually found on the shelf with the peanut butter. Freshly squeezed lemon juice and minced garlic rather than using bottled juice or jarred garlic intensifies and improves the quality of the flavor. Additional spices or mix-ins are optional.

Hummus with Tahini
Prep Time: 5 minutes

* 2 1/2 cups of canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
* 1/3 cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice
* 1/4 cup of tahini
* 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
* 1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin (optional)
* 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper (optional)
* Pinch of freshly ground black pepper (optional)
* 1 teaspoon of salt
* 1/3 cup of water


Put everything except water into food processor or blender adjusting lemon juice, salt, garlic and spices to personal taste. Start with less than recommended and taste after blending and add more to suit your personal taste--experiment. Add water and blend on high until mixture reaches the consistency of sour cream. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate.

Optional: Drizzle of olive oil over the top and add a garnish of parsley or black olives before serving. A small amount of olive oil can be added to the hummus along with the listed ingredients.

Serve hummus with pita wedges or slices of whole grain breads or fresh cut vegetables or in place of mayonnaise on a sandwich. (See wrap recipe below.)

A Great Wrap

Spread hummus liberally on a tortilla. Place apple slices down the center. In a small serving bowl mix a can of drained tuna with a small amount of yogurt along with a curry seasoning to taste. Mix well. Add some of the tuna mixture on top of the apples. Wrap up the tortilla and eat. Delicious!

Yogurt Hummus


* 3 garlic cloves, minced
* 1/4-cup plain low-fat yogurt
* 1 tablespoon lemon juice
* 1/4-teaspoon salt
* 1/4-teaspoon paprika (optional)
* 1/8-teaspoon pepper (optional)
* 1 (19 ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
* 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped (optional)


Combine everything in blender or food processor and process until smooth. Increase lemon juice, salt, spices to taste.
If you need more liquid to make consistency similar to sour cream, add a bit more yogurt or water.

Serve with pitas or as a veggie dip.

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