The best thing about chickpeas is that they are so versatile. They can be cooked and eaten with vegetables as a main dish, relished in a salad, or ground into a paste to make hummus. I became fascinated with hummus when I lived in Israel. Being a local dish, we ate plenty of it along with a variety of fresh mediterranean salads. I remember once, we had traveled quite a distance to a popular hummus place that boasted to be the best in the area only to find out that they were sold out by early afternoon. Such is the power of hummus!
Hummus textures can vary from one place to another. Some are smooth and velvety and others have a grainy texture but it’s all a matter of personal preference. My tip for making great hummus at home is to prep the chickpeas themselves: Soak the chickpeas overnight and the following day slow cook them with water and salt on a vigorous simmer for 2 hours. Skim away any scum that builds on the top. The scum prevents the chickpeas from cooking properly and changes the texture of the hummus. This process is a bit long but the results of cooking your own chickpeas at home vs. buying the canned ones makes it worth the effort. You can always make a bigger batch and freeze some for later use; for busy moms, this can be a fresher and healthier option than buying the canned ones.
Kids love to eat things that are colorful and tasty. Regular hummus is a bit boring; it’s off white color does not appeal to them that much. So, I thought to spice it up a bit and make it more fun for them to eat. At the same time, I added some healthy vegetables inside to give their system a good nutritional boost during the day. These dishes can be made a day in advance and put in the refrigerator. No last minute rush! It will definitely make the kids and their moms happier. Of course, these dips will also enhance any party meal as it is a great appetizer!
Roasted beet chickpea hummus
1 beet, roasted (400F for about 45 min), cooled to room temperature, skin removed and cut into big pieces (or you can store buy the ready one) - remember to use gloves while handling beetroots as their color will be hard to wash off
1 cup cooked chickpeas
¼ cup tahini
1 garlic, minced
Juice of ¼ lemon
zest of ½ lemon
2 Tbsp vegetable oil (I don’t like the way olive oil tastes when blended with chickpeas)
¼ iced water (or you can use the water that remains after cooking the chickpeas)
salt to taste
black and white toasted sesame seeds to garnish
In a food processor, blend all the ingredients to a smooth paste. Adjust any seasoning as necessary. Serve in snack containers garnish with sesame seeds.
Zucchini Edamame Hummus
½ zucchini, cut in half moons
2 Tbsp pure olive oil
1 cup chickpeas
¼ cup tahini
¼ cup edamame beans (cooked)
1 garlic, minced
10 parsley leaves
5 mint leaves
juice of ¼ lemon
Salt to taste
2 Tbsp parmesan cheese
1 basil leaf to garnish
Saute the zucchini in olive oil until cooked. Remove from heat and cool. In a food processor blend all the ingredients to a smooth paste. Adjust any seasoning as necessary. Serve in snack containers. Garnish with a basil leaf.
Accompaniment suggestions: carrots, cucumbers, peppers, apples, pita bread, toasted bread, pita chips, pretzels