I've always liked hummus, but generally only ate it as a dip, either with pita pieces or raw vegetables. Then, several years ago I had a hummus revelation. My sister had come to visit me in Charlestown, MA, at my apartment in the Navy Yard. We stopped next door at the little sandwich shop at Flagship Wharf for a bite to eat. This place had the best grilled panini sandwiches. I was usually bad and had the grilled cheese, which featured quarter inch slabs of white cheddar that melted fabulously. That was one decadent sandwich, all crunchy and buttery on the outside and oozing goodness within. My sister, being much more practical and healthier eating than I, ordered one of their special grilled chicken sandwiches. It didn't seem overly exciting to me, after all, there was no cheese in that sandwich, and no mayo, just veggies and of all things, hummus. Did not appeal to me one bit. Until she took a bite and positively swooned, and insisted I try it. Reluctantly, I agreed with much skepticism. How good could a sandwich of chicken, roasted red peppers and hummus be? Well, let's just say I had serious sandwich envy after that bite. From then on, the grilled cheese was kicked to the curb, and hummus ruled my sandwich world.
Since then, I've often duplicated this at home, using my trusty little George Foreman grill (which also doubles as my toaster). I'm not a fan of roasted red peppers on their own, their texture is a tad too slimy for my taste. But, hummus is now widely available with roasted red peppers mixed in, and that's perfect. A couple slices of good bread, sliced turkey or chicken, and a slather of red pepper hummus and you have a delicious sandwich....especially if you press it until it's perfectly toasted.
My days of eating unlimited cheese are unfortunately over. So, just a few weeks ago, when making an omelet for breakfast, on a whim, I dropped a tablespoon or so of my new favorite hummus, the incredibly creamy Sabra brand, onto my omelet, folded it over and dove in. Who knew that hummus would make such a great filling for an omelet? You get the creamy mouthfeel of melted cheese and the flavor of good hummus, without all the fat. This has become a regular habit for me with omelets now.
It's kind of fun to make your own hummus too, and super easy. If you keep cans of chick peas in the house, and some tahini, you'll always have the makings for a quick batch and it's a great thing to make when company comes. For some reason it impresses them, and it's fast and simple. The version I make is based on a recipe from one of my 'go to' cookbooks, Ina Garten's first book, The Barefoot Contessa cookbook. Other outrageous recipes from this book are her grilled lemon chicken, roast chicken with gravy, and the Brownies...they are dangerously good.
Basic Hummus, adapted from The Barefoot Contessa cookbook.
2 cups canned chickpeas, reserve liquid, and rinse well
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup tahini (sesame paste)
3 tablespoons fresh sqeezed lemon juice (1 lemon)
2 tablespoons reserved chick pea liquid (or water)
2 tablespoons olive oil (not extra virgin, that taste will overpower)
Tabasco sauce to taste, a few dashes
Process all ingredients in a food processor until creamy. This will keep about a week in the fridge...if it lasts that long.
Adaptions I made were to cut the amount of lemon in half.....unless you specifically want lemon hummus, then use the full 2 lemons (6 tab worth). I usually like to add in whatever veggies I have on hand, like red peppers, or spinach/artichokes. Her recipe also doesn't call for olive oil, so you could omit, but I like the flavor and richness that a little bit adds. You can also play with the texture, if you like a more coarse hummus, process it less. These days I like it extra creamy, so I go a bit longer until it's nice and smooth.
Here's another great way to use hummus, as the base for a hot dip. This is a bit hit at parties, as you can pretend for a minute that it's healthy...that the hummus cancels out the corn chips you use to dip and the cheeses and sour cream that you stir in. It's very good stuff!
Cheesy Artichoke, Feta, Hummus, dip
One of the girls in the office brought this in, and we all fell in love. It's delicious, quick, and easy as can be.
2 cups hummus ( I like to use roasted red pepper)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
1 can artichoke hearts, in water, drained, and chopped
1/4 cup shredded carrots
1/2 cup feta cheese
Mix everything except the feta. Sprinkle feta on top. Microwave for about two minutes or until feta starts to melt. Serve with tortilla, corn or pita chips.