Beauty In A Glass

In the heat of summer it’s always nice to have something so fast, so beautiful, and so delicious you can serve it to company, have it for a brunch, or the start of a romantic dinner. I’m a huge fan of cold soups, and this one does not disappoint. I made this as an appetizer last weekend and it received accolades! I used my VitaMix which gave it a particular silkiness, but you could also use a food processor or stick blender. Just make sure that it’s mixed completely until it’s smooth. You probably have the ingredients in your pantry (except maybe the cooked shrimp).

Although I used cannellini beans, you could also use any white bean of your choice. The roasted peppers however give it its beautiful color. I also used sherry vinegar, but you could also use wine vinegar. I think the cold shrimp give it a particular restaurant look, and you can control the thickness by the amount of stock you use. Nobody seemed to mind using a spoon, and I prefer my pureed soups a little thick.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 15 ounce cans cannellini beans, strained and rinsed
  • 4 jarred roasted red peppers, patted dry and diced
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoon sherry vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2-1 cup vegetable stock, homemade if you have it
  • 1/2 pound cold cooked shrimp (I use two shrimp per serving)

INSTRUCTIONS:

  • In a VitaMix or food processor, place the beans, red peppers, garlic, thyme leaves, olive oil, sherry vinegar, salt and pepper and process until mixed completely. Mixture with be thick.
  • While your machine is running, slowly pour 1/2 cup vegetable stock into your blender or processor. Scape down the sides and check for thickness. Continue to add 1/4 cup stock at a time until the soup has the thickness you enjoy. Process for 2-3 minutes until completely mixed and silky. Taste and add additional salt or vinegar if needed.
  • Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight. Pour into decorative glasses. Garnish with chopped chives and cold shrimp.

Serves 4-6

“Worries go down better with a cold soup on a hot day.”

Quick, Easy & Delicious!

Summer is a busy time for most of us, so it’s important to have a few recipes that are quick, easy and delicious. As the heat of summer increases, and we fire up our grills, salads are the order of the day. This salad is a meal in itself. There are times when a simple charcuterie board works to nibble at when the temperatures climb, but why not turn it into a salad? Enter the Antipasto Salad.

You can tweek this in so many different ways. Although I chose 3 cheese tortellini from Buitoni, you can use the mixed tortellini with regular and spinach combined, or your favorite small chunky pasta such as penne, farfalle or orecchiette. If you choose regular pasta you will want to add 6 ounces of Ciliegine mozzarella (cherry-size) drained and cut in half, to replace the cheese in the tortellini.

Don’t like black olives? Use green or kalamata. Don’t like pepperoncini? Use another pickled pepper of your choice. Don’t have Ciliegine? Cube another soft cheese like gouda, provolone or Swiss. The hard salami can be replaced with some other cured meat like Soppressata or Genoa Salami. Remember you are in charge. You can make your own vinaigrette, thin out some pesto or in a real pinch, try Paul Newman’s Oil & Vinegar Dressing. You can easily make this for a crowd by going from a 9 ounce to a 20 ounce package of tortellini.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 9 ounce package Buitoni Three Cheese Tortellini, cooked according to package directions and drained
  • 1 2.25 ounce can sliced black olives, drained
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 cup roasted red peppers, drained and chopped
  • 3 ounces cured meat of your choice (I used hard salami), chopped
  • 1 15 ounce can quartered artichoke hearts (you can also use 7 ounce jar of marinated), drained
  • 1/4 cup pepperoncini, drained and chopped
  • 3 scallions sliced thinly

LEMON OLIVE OIL DRESSING:

  • 1/4 cup good quality extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

Place in mason jar and shake vigorously.

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. In a large salad bowl add all the ingredients. Toss gently to combine.
  2. Pour dressing over salad. Toss once more to coat ingredients.

Keeps for up to 4 days in refrigerator.

Serves: 4

“We don’t need a melting pot in this country folks, we need a salad bowl. You appreciate the differences. Jane Elliot

Les Carottes, Oui!

I have always appreciated the versatility of vegetables, as the possibilities are endless. It certainly doesn’t hurt that we are vegetable farmers. There are times when fresh, simple ingredients will make combinations shine. The French are masters of this approach to cooking. This is a salad that can be tweaked on so many levels. Herb choices can be varied, such as parsley, mint, cilantro, or a mixture. If you want to bulk it up, it’s so easy to add chickpeas or cannellini beans. You could add sliced radishes, snap peas, or snow peas. Think color and texture. Frankly, I can’t get enough of this salad!

Typically, this salad uses grated carrots, but I find that they become slightly mushy when used as the centerpiece. I prefer to use a julienne peeler as it gives it more loft and texture interest. I’ve used a few of these peelers over time and have not been plused. However, I finally found one that works perfectly as advertised. The Sunkuka Julienne Peeler, is made of stainless steel and performs beautifully. This salad also holds for up to 3 days in the refrigerator.

FRENCH CARROT SALAD WITH LEMON DIJON VINAIGRETTE

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 pound carrots, peeled and julienned
  • 2 scallions, sliced thinly
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 1.5 tablespoons avocado oil
  • 1.5 tablespoons good quality extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons local honey
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Peel and julienne carrots. Place in a large bowl. Add scallions and parsley (and any other salad ingredients you choose).
  2. In a pint mason jar, combine avocado and olive oil, Dijon, lemon juice, honey, salt and pepper. Place lid on jar and shake vigorously. Add to salad and toss gently. Serve on a bed of lettuce.

OPTIONS:

  • 1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup radishes, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup snap peas, sliced in thirds
  • 1 cup snow peas, sliced in thirds
  • 1/4 cup cilantro and/or mint

Serves 4

The majority of my diet is probably vegetables, but I’m not a vegetarian or vegan. –Abigail Spencer

When Simple Meets Delicious

There are times after a busy day on the farm that I want to make something healthy yet packed with flavor. If I can get it to the table in 30 minutes, all the better. It also doesn’t hurt that it’s made with my favorite legume, the chickpea or garbanzo. Chickpeas go way beyond hummus, and are excellent in stews, soups, sides and salads, along with grains and pasta. They boast 11 grams of protein in 1 cup, and deliver the most nutrients of all other beans. Loaded with zinc and fiber, they pair well with cuisines from many cultures.

This is a simple stew from Catalonia, Spain loaded with garlic, vegetable broth, spinach, saffron and get this, raisins. In the end, this savory-sweet stew hits on all cylinders. We love it, and I think you will too!

CATALAN SPINACH AND CHICKPEA STEW

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup toasted almonds, ground in a mortar and pestle or food processor
  • 2 large shallots, thinly sliced
  • 6 large cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce
  • 10 ounces fresh baby spinach
  • 2 15 ounce cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 2 cups vegetable stock (homemade if possible)
  • Large pinch of saffron threads
  • 3 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. In a stock pot over medium-high heat, add 3 tablespoons of olive oil, the sliced shallots and the garlic. Saute, stirring constantly, until shallots are translucent about 2 minutes. Add tomato sauce and simmer for another 2-3 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in the mortar and pestle or food processor, add the saffron threads, parsley, and sea salt. Process until fine. Set aside.
  3. Add the fresh spinach, and stir until wilted, then add the chickpeas, raisins, and sea salt and pepper to taste. Add 2 cups of vegetable stock and the almond mixture. Simmer for about 5 minutes. Serve in shallow bowls.

Serves 4

“Beans, beans, the magical legume. The more you eat, the more you consume.” –A. Yankovic

Just A Little Crabby!

When it comes to seafood, one of my absolute favorites is crab cakes. I do have a caveat however, and that is they can’t be bready. I want just enough binder to hold them together. I want to taste crab, not bread. I also like them generous in size. I remember my first time in San Francisco, having lunch at the Ferry Building on a perfect fall day. We were able to eat outside and watch the ferry boats come in and out. I ordered crab cakes and they were crazy good. Perfectly seared on both sides and literally 2 inches thick! I was swooning with every mouthful. Hardly any filler, loads of lump crab meat, and a glass of chilled white wine nearby.

This recipe uses panko breadcrumbs, which adds a binder that does not get mushy. I measure each crab cake into a 1/2 cup measuring vessel, and gently press the contents in, then I simply tap them out on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. I refrigerate them for about 2 hours, which firms them up before I sear them. I find that this step prevents overcooking the crab meat as well; giving you a perfect crust and moist interior.

I don’t use many processed products, but rather than tartar sauce, I enjoy a simple sauce made up of guacamole salsa and sour cream (you could also use yogurt). I like to place it under each crab cake. It’s slightly spicy and compliments the crab cakes perfectly. For visual appeal, I mince sweet peppers to sprinkle around the plate, and top with arugula.

CRAB CAKES WITH AVOCADO SALSA SAUCE

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise (I use Hellmans’)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped celery
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
  • 1 pound lump crabmeat
  • 1/2 cup panko
  • 2 tablespoons avocado oil for frying
  • 3/4 cup guacamole salsa
  • 1/3 cup sour cream or yogurt
  • 1 cup minced sweet pepper for garnish
  • 1 1/2 cups arugula for garnish
INSTRUCTIONS:
  1. Combine the eggs, mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, Worcestershire, Old Bay, salt, celery, and parsley in a large bowl and mix well. Add the crab meat (be sure to check the meat for any hard cartilage) and panko; using a rubber spatula, gently fold the mixture together until just combined, being careful not to break up the crabmeat. Gently press mixture into a 1/2 cup measuring vessel, then tap it out on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Repeat using all of the crab mixture. You should have 5-6 cakes. Cover and place in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. This helps them firm up and hold together.
  2. Preheat a large non-stick skillet on medium heat and coat with 2 tablespoons avocado oil. Once the oil is hot, place the crab cakes in the pan and cook until golden brown, 3-5 minutes per side. Place on paper towels for a few minutes to make sure they aren’t greasy.
  3. In a small bowl, mix the avocado salsa and sour cream or yogurt. To plate spoon a small amount of sauce on each plate, place 2 crab cakes on top of sauce. Sprinkle plate with minced sweet pepper and sprinkle arugula on top. Serve warm with additional sauce on the side.

What can I eat and not get tired of? Without a doubt, seafood!

Hold The Mayo!

When the weather starts to break in the spring, one of the things I crave is salads, and one of my favorites is potato salad. Although I was raised on a mayonnaise based potato salad, loaded with onions and hard-boil eggs, I enjoy making them with a slightly lighter hand. This however, does not mean bland. I want a salad with a punch. Bold Mediterranean flavors, like capers, olives, red onion and herbs guarantees flavor in every forkful . Eliminating the mayonnaise and replacing it with a good quality olive oil is key. I like to turn this into a meal salad by adding imported Italian tuna packed in olive oil. It adds additional bulk, plays well with the other ingredients and looks showy served on a bed of greens. This potato salad is best served warm or at room temperature. I also enjoy adding about 1/2 cup chopped garlic scapes, when they are available in June. Not a tuna fan? Simply omit it. So simple to adjust it to your own taste preferences.

Don’t allow the potatoes to cool before tossing them with the dressing. This when they really absorb the flavor. Also, don’t skip the caper brine! It’s just not the same without it.

MEDITERRANEAN POTATO SALAD

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 pounds Yukon gold or red skinned potatoes (or a combination of both) cut into 1-inch chunks
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup drained capers, plus 1 tablespoon caper brine
  • 1/2 cup sliced and pitted Kalamata olives
  • 1/4 cup good quality extra-virgin olive oil
  • 5 ounce jar Italian olive oil-packed tuna (optional)
  • 1/2 cup lightly packed Italian parsley or basil OR a combination of both, chopped
  1. In a large bowl, stir together the onion, red wine vinegar and oregano, set aside. Place potatoes in a large saucepan, cover with water to about 1-inch above the potatoes, and add 2 teaspoons salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; then turn down to medium-low and simmer for 8-10 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into a potato meets no resistance.
  2. Drain the potatoes in a colander. To the large bowl, add capers, brine, olives, olive oil, salt and pepper. Mix to combine. Add hot potatoes and mix gently again. If using tuna, add next along with the parsley and basil. Taste and adjust for seasoning, adding more salt and pepper if needed.
  3. Serve warm on a platter lined with greens.

Yields: 4-6 servings

“Food is the ingredient that binds us together.”

Cultural Influences

I have always enjoyed spicy food, particularly Mexican and Mediterranean. There is so much variety that it’s impossible to be bored. Many recipes use chorizo as a flavorful ingredient; but did you know that Mexican and Spanish chorizo are distinctly different from each other?

SPANISH CHORIZO:

Spanish chorizo is a cured or firm, sausage made from coarsely chopped pork, and is heavily seasoned, with a characteristically red color due to the heavy amounts of paprika in the spice mix. Depending on the type of paprika used, Spanish chorizo can be either spicy or sweet. The paprika used in Spanish chorizo is almost always smoked, which gives the sausage a deep smoky flavor. Other ingredients may include garlic, white wine and herbs, with the links varying in length.

Because Spanish chorizo is cured, meaning it has been aged for several weeks, it can be eaten without cooking and is often served sliced as part of a tapas tray or charcuterie board.

MEXICAN CHORIZO:

Mexican chorizo is quite different from Spanish chorizo. The meat is usually ground, rather than chopped, and the sausage is fresh rather than cured. It is sold in both bulk and links. The red color of Mexican chorizo usually comes from spicy red pepper rather than the smoked paprika you find in Spanish chorizo. Pork fat is often added to the meat mixture, along with other spices and vinegar. The links are short and air dried for one day to a week.

Mexican chorizo is sold raw and must be cooked prior to eating. It can be cooked either in its casing or removed from its casing and cooked like ground meat (most people purchase it as bulk sausage for this purpose). Mexican chorizo is used in place of ground beef in tacos, burritos, chili, soups, burgers and egg dishes.

I use bulk Mexican chorizo regularly, but last week I made an incredible Shrimp and Spanish chorizo dish that was simple to make, and big in flavor. It may be my favorite way to eat shrimp!

SPANISH CHORIZO AND SHRIMP

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 lb large shrimp, shelled and deveined (leave the tails on)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 9 ounces Spanish chorizo, casing removed and sliced 1/4 inch, then each slice in quarters
  • 1 white onion, finely diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, grated
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2/3 cup chicken stock (homemade if you have it)
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sweet paprika
  • 1/2 cup canned chopped tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped for garnish
  • 1 lemon cut into wedges for garnish

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Place the shelled shrimp in a bowl, season with salt, pepper and paprika and toss to ensure they are all evenly coated. Set aside for 15 minutes.
  2. Heat olive oil in a stick-free pan on medium-high heat. Add the shrimp in a single layer and sear for two minutes per side (you may need to do this in two batches). Remove the cooked shrimp from the pan and set aside on a plate.
  3. Add the chorizo pieces to the pan and cook for 4-5 minutes until the chorizo is golden and slightly crisp. Add the diced onion and garlic to the pan and cook for another 2 minutes, until the onion begins to soften. Add tomato paste and stir to incorporate.
  4. Add the chicken stock, cherry tomatoes, canned tomatoes and paprika to the pan and cook for another 5 minutes, until the tomatoes begin to soften and the sauce has thickened.
  5. Return the cooked shrimp and any juices to the pan and reheat for 1-2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and plate, garnishing with fresh chopped parsley and lemon wedges.

Serves 2-4

“You have to live life to its full chorizo!” –Mario Batali

Chorizo Chickpea Stew

It’s the time of the year when the grayness of winter has sunk into our bones. I look out at the marsh and lake hoping that the ice will break up and the lake will move again. It’s the annual pause before spring when we are wanting, needing to see life again. I find myself watching for the finches to change color and the crocus to bloom.

To counter this time of the blahs I lean towards cooking something at little spicy, and chorizo definitely does the trick. I enjoy all chorizo whether it’s fresh Mexican (in link or bulk) or cured Spanish (in link ready to eat). Good chorizo is about the flavor profile. Traditionally made from pork, it may contain garlic powder, chili powder, smoked paprika, sweet paprika, salt, ground oregano, ground cumin and black pepper.

Several weeks ago I discovered a chicken chorizo that simply amazed me! The seasoning was perfect, and the texture bellied that it was even chicken. I also found that it was very versatile. I fry up a pound and keep it available for tacos, taco salads, or breakfast quesadillas. Then I made this chickpea stew. Wow.

CHORIZO CHICKPEA STEW

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 pound bulk chorizo of your choice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium white onion, chopped
  • 2-15 oz cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 4 cups vegetable stock (preferably homemade)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 cups packed fresh kale, stemmed and chopped

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. In a large heavy pot, brown the chorizo in the olive oil over medium-high heat until no longer pink, breaking it up with the back of a wooden spoon.
  2. Add the chopped onion and continue to cook, until the onion is soft. Add the tomato paste, stirring until incorporated.
  3. Add chickpeas, paprika, salt, and vegetable stock. Cover and simmer on medium-low for 20 minutes.
  4. Add chopped kale, and simmer until kale is wilted and softened, about 5 minutes.
  5. Ladle into bowls.

Serves 4

“In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.” –Margaret Atwood

Savoring the Savory

As a confirmed nibbler, I love baked goods, particularly warm from the oven. We don’t eat a great deal of sugar in our home, but tarts and scones are always a hit. I prefer the savory scone to a sweet one, and this scone has all the markings of a moist, slightly salty and savory mouthful. I return to these again and again for something unexpected and delicious.

GRUYERE, PROSCIUTTO & GREEN ONION SCONES

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup buttermilk
  • 2/3 cup grated gruyere or Comte cheese
  • 1/2 cup chopped prosciutto
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan or pecorino cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onion
  • 2 tablespoons half and half
  • Sea salt

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Using a pastry cutter, cut the butter into the flour mixture, until you have coarse crumbs. This can also be done in a food processor with a few pulses. In using a food processor, place contents in a bowl after pulsing.
  2. In another bowl, whisk and eggs and buttermilk together. Add to the flour mixture and stir until just moist.
  3. In a small bowl, mix together the gruyere, prosciutto, parmesan and green onion. Add this to the batter, then mix lightly. The dough will be sticky.
  4. On a lightly floured surface, turn the sticky dough out and knead lightly until all the cheese, prosciutto and green onion are incorporated into the dough. Roll the dough 3/4 inch thick. Shape roughly into a circle and cut 8 triangles. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat, and lightly brush with half and half. Sprinkle with sea salt.
  5. Place the scones in the freezer for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  6. Once the scones have chilled, bake for 20 minutes, or until golden. Serve warm.

Serves 8

“Baking is love made edible.”

Let’s Spread Hummus, Not Hate

I’ve been making hummus, the Middle-Eastern chickpea spread for decades. I am very anti commercially processed hummus. One, I dislike the consistency, and two I can make 5-6 times as much for the price of one 8 ounce container. Although I have frequently advocated for using soaked, dried chickpeas, I’ve been working at making a good hummus with canned chickpeas; and I have finally come up with the result I was looking for using a few tricks that made a significant difference. I found it amazing that using these 4 techniques made for a creamy and delicious hummus I was ready to eat and serve to others.

  • Technique #1: warm your chickpeas. I found warming my chickpeas in the microwave for about 2 minutes helped to give me the same incredible consistency I prefer when I cook the chickpeas from scratch. And lets face it there are times that time is of the essence when soaking and cooking them isn’t practical.
  • Technique #2: Save your canned liquid. The starchy liquid from canned chickpeas is called Aquafaba. It is often used by vegans as an egg substitute. Here we will use it to flavor and thin out our processed chickpeas to just the right consistency.
  • Technique #3: Patience grasshopper! Process, process, process! It is extremely important that you process your hummus for as long as it takes, which can be as long as 10 minutes! I find the time can vary quite a bit for unknown reasons. I will sometimes add 2-3 tablespoons of ice water near the end, if the consistency is at all grainy.
  • Technique #4: Taste as you go. I can’t tell you how many times when I have neglected to do this that I end up making adjustments that weren’t necessary. The two primary factors being salt and lemon juice. Once it’s added you can’t take it away.

I make hummus several times a month. I can’t get enough of it, and it’s so versatil. You can add roasted carrots, beets, avocado, or marinated artichokes to it and end up with something completely different. Lately I’ve been slightly obsessed with using it as a replacement for pasta or rice, and turning it into a dinner hummus. I have used ground lamb and topped it with cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, olives, green onions and cilantro. I have roasted a sheet pan of veggies like eggplant, zucchini and squash. You name it, and you can create a healthy topping for this classic spread. This week I used cut up boneless chicken thighs, caramelized onions and roasted cauliflower seasoned with my homemade ras el hanout https://twistedbasics.com/2019/03/16/got-the-munchies/ and was totally blown away with the result. This will definitely be on a permanent rotation in this house! Don’t be daunted by the several steps; it still comes together relatively quickly and is well worth the effort!

MIDDLE EASTERN DINNER HUMMUS

FOR THE HUMMUS:

  • 2 (15.5-ounce) cans chickpeas, drained, reserving liquid from one can
  • 1/3 cup tahini
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Juice from one lemon
  • 1-2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 large garlic cloves

MAKE THE HUMMUS:

  1. Heat your drained chickpeas in a microwave safe bowl for 2 minutes. Throw the garlic down your entry shoot while your food processor is running, processing to chop it. Stop and add chickpeas, tahini, oil, 1/2 of the lemon juice, 1 teaspoon salt, then process until a coarse paste forms, about 45 seconds, stopping to scrape down sides as needed.
  2. Slowly add the chickpea liquid and process until smooth and creamy (up to 10 minutes). Don’t rush this step. If after processing your hummus still looks granular, add ice water 1 tablespoon at a time (up to 3 tablespoons). Taste adding additional lemon juice and/or salt. This will make more than you will need for this recipe, but yay more for later. Place finished hummus in bowl and set aside.

FOR CAULIFLOWER:

  • 1 medium head cauliflower, cut or broken into small flowerettes about 4 cups
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon ras el hanout
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
  2. Toss cauliflower with olive oil and ras el hanout. Place on baking sheet in one layer. Roast for 25-30 minutes or until cauliflower is slightly charred around the edges.

FOR CHICKEN & ONIONS:

  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon ras el hanout
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon za’atar
  • 1/3 cup golden raisins
  1. In a medium bowl, toss chicken with ras el hanout. Heat two tablespoons olive oil in 12 inch skillet over medium-high heat. (I love my cast iron skillet for this). Add chicken in an even layer; cook, undisturbed, until the bottom of the chicken is lightly browned, about 5 minutes. You may need to do this in two batches. Turn over chicken and cook until no longer pink, about 4 more minutes; transfer to a medium bowl.
  2. To the same skillet reduce the heat to medium and add the sliced onion, za’atar, and the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil; cook, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon to loosen browned bits, until softened, lightly brown and caramelized. Add 1/4 cup water and the raisins to the skillet, the chicken and cauliflower. Stir gently and heat until warmed through. Season with salt to taste.

FOR ASSEMBLY:

On a decorative platter, spread the hummus 1/2-3/4 inch thick to completely cover the bottom of platter. Make a well in the center of the hummus and spoon the chicken, caramelized onions and cauliflower over hummus. Top with toasted pine nuts and chopped parsley. Drizzle with olive oil. Pass pita or pita chips for serve.

Serves 4

“Middle age is about getting super excited about different flavors of hummus!”

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