Tag Archives: golden raisins

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!”

Shepherding In Comfort Food

When I think of comfort food, it’s usually something warm and savory that I can place in a bowl and eat out of hand in my lazy girl.  Mac and cheese fits into this category as do soups, stews and shepherd’s pies.  Traditionally, a shepherd’s pie consists of ground meat under a layer of mashed potatoes.  Mmmm….sounds a little boring doesn’t it?  In an effort to get out of that box, I was inspired by the elements of piccadio which include ground meat (in this case lamb) tomatoes, olives and spices.  My favorite home-made spice mixture called ras el hanout (inspired by North African cuisine),  along with golden raisins to add a sweet element.  Top with mashed sweet potatoes and you have a meal at once, savory, sweet and satisfying.

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NORTH AFRICAN SHEPHERD’S PIE

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1  pound grass-fed ground lamb
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup green olives, pitted and halved (I use Castelvetrano)
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 1 tablespoon ras el hanout
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste, plus 1/2 cup water
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2 inch chunks
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • Fresh thyme sprigs for garnish (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a medium non-stick skillet over medium heat, saute onion and garlic until soft.  Add ground lamb and break up with the back of a spoon.  Add ras el hanout and brown completely about 8-10 minutes.
  2. Add tomato paste and water and combine, cooking until slightly thickened.  Add olives and golden raisins.  Stir to combine.  Take off heat, let cool slightly, then spoon into a gratin dish or 9×9 casserole dish.  Set aside.
  3. Heat oven to 375 degrees F.  Place sweet potatoes in pot with water to cover and salt.  Bring to a boil, and simmer until tender when pierced with a paring knife (about 10-15 minutes.
  4. Drain potatoes and mash with butter and half and half (adding more half and half if needed, but not enough to make it soupy).  Spread sweet potato mixture over lamb mixture for about a one inch depth (you may or may not have left over sweet potatoes).   Bake for 25 minutes or until hot and bubbly.
  5. Let rest for 10 minutes.  Serve.

Serves 4

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“Food is the most primitive form of comfort.”