May – Roasted Cauliflower Hummus

May – Roasted Cauliflower Hummus

When is hummus not really hummus? For the sake of total accuracy, when should you no longer call it hummus?

Here is the official definition in the dictionary:

noun:
Middle Eastern Cookery. a paste or dip made of chickpeas mashed with oil, garlic, lemon juice, and tahini and usually eaten with pita.
Origin of hummus:
From the dialectal Arabic word ḥummuṣ, ḥəmmoṣ chickpeas
 
So, technically speaking, if it doesn’t contain chickpeas, it should not be called hummus. But recipes without chickpeas and still calling themselves hummus are everywhere. And they are delicious even though they are incorrectly named. I especially adore the ones made with roasted vegetables such as the one on the Chef Mimi Blog for Roasted Carrot Hummus or the delightful variety on the blog Foodbod by Elaine. Sometimes vegetables are also added to a regular hummus (made with chickpeas) to increase the nutritional value and flavor (I guess those can be officially called hummus). Including cooked mashed sweet potatoes or winter squash is a wonderful and colorful idea during the holidays. Keep a bowl of these vegetable spreads in your fridge for snacking or adding to sandwiches. A hummus and avocado sandwich with thinly sliced onion and cucumber on whole grain bread is a quick powerhouse lunch.
So, I am going to defy technical and other accuracies and call this rendition with roasted cauliflower hummus. After all, it is a wonderful dip for pita bread or raw veggies, and it looks like hummus. It contains all the other ingredients of hummus, but no chickpeas. Instead you use one of my favorite vegetables, roasted cauliflower. I recently served this at my bookclub when it was my turn to host, no one was able to identify the secret ingredient. The guessing game was great fun.

The recipe comes from the cookbook Dishing Up the Dirt by Andrea Bemis, the subtitle says it all, simple recipes for cooking through the seasons. This is a cookbook that will see regular use, becoming stained with grease spots and filled with notations. The book is filled with healthy and delicious recipes, simple but often with a clever twist. It is mostly vegetarian but not entirely. Ms. Bemis and her husband own and run tumblewood farm in Oregon and the book features seasonal produce from their fields. I found this book inspirational even for a “farm” that consists of a few raised beds. I wish I lived close enough to Portland to join their CSA group.

Roasted Cauliflower Hummus

Here is the recipe for the mystery ingredient.
Ingredients:
  • 1 medium-sized cauliflower head, broken into small florets
  • 3 large cloves of garlic, peels left on
  • 4 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1/3 cup tahini
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon of cumin, toasted if you have time (the recipe calls for 1/8 teaspoon but I love cumin)
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Kosher or sea salt and pepper to taste

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F (218 degrees C)
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment or baking paper. Toss the cauliflower and garlic cloves with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and spread out in one layer on the sheet.
  3. Roast until the cauliflower is tender and brown on the edges, about 25 to 30 minutes.
  4. Let the vegetables cool slightly, then gently squeeze the garlic from their skins into the bowl of a food processor.
  5. Into the same bowl, combine the cauliflower, remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil, tahini, lemon juice, cumin, cayenne and the garlic cloves squeezed from the skin.
  6. Process until the mixture is smooth, stopping to scrape the sides and push the mixture back down as needed. Add warm tap water 1 tablespoon at a time to thin for a creamier texture.
  7. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding salt and pepper. Repulse to mix.

This will keep in the fridge in an airtight container for 3 to 5 days. It is nice to give it a few hours of chilling time for the flavors to mellow.

When I make it next time I will probably add a little more garlic and olive oil to the processor.

When chilled spread on crisp crackers or pita bread,

or my favorite, sliced cucumber.

May – Wild Rice and Black Bean Salad

May – Wild Rice and Black Bean Salad

Black bean and wild rice salad is a flexible dish, it even doesn’t have to be a salad. You could serve it warm as well. Modify this very versatile recipe for the occasion and your taste. Add some shredded cheddar or crumbled goat cheese and it could be the center of a vegetarian feast. It is a perfect side dish for a BBQ or pot luck. Best of all it can be made a few hours ahead, it doesn’t require any last minute attention other than a sprinkling of chopped cilantro. The flavors will improve by sitting for a few hours. If made ahead, refrigerate the salad and bring it up to cool room temperature, sprinkle with cilantro and serve.

I know that wild rice can be pricy. Modify by using leftover cooked brown rice, it would work as a substitute. When I cook any kind of rice I always prepare more than I will use. Day old rice makes the best fried rice, and cooked rice freezes well in heavy duty freezer bags. Portion as much as you will need for a meal. label it, and pop it in the freezer. When you want to use it, add a few drops of water to the bag and reheat in the microwave.

Wild Rice and Black Bean Salad

INGREDIENTS (serves 4 – 6)

  • 1 can of black beans, rinsed and drained (or 1 1/2 cups of cooked and drained black beans)
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked wild rice (about 1 cup uncooked)
  • 1 bunch of spring onions or scallions, chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely minced
  • 1 English or thin skinned cucumber, chopped into cubes (if using a regular cuke, peel and seed it first)
  • 1/2 pint of cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 avocado chopped
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp red pepper (depending on desired heat)
  • Salt to taste
  • Lemon and/or lime juice, about 1/4 cup
  • Olive oil, about 1/4-1/2 cup
  • Chopped fresh cilantro or parsley

METHOD

  1. Prepare the wild rice according to package directions, drain and cool.
  2. In a large bowl mix the black beans, onions, garlic, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, red pepper together.
  3. Add the chili powder, cumin, red pepper and salt. Taste and see if it needs any additional seasoning.
  4. Toss with the juice of a lemon or 2 limes, then add the olive oil. I start with the smallest amount and taste, adding more if needed.
  5. Serve, or chill until serving time. Garnish with chopped cilantro or parsley.

    Wild Rice and Black Bean Salad

 

I am taking this salad to Fiesta Friday #171. It will be a perfect balance to the array of dishes brought by other bloggers. Click here to read the posts, please add your own to the party.

 

 

March – 3 Pepper Pasta with Garlic

March – 3 Pepper Pasta with Garlic

Sometimes the best recipes come out of necessity, this time the need for a quick dinner with minimal ingredients (the fridge was almost bare). We were away over the weekend, arriving home on Sunday night hungry from a long drive. Something was required almost instantly before true bad humor hit. This recipe will do it for you…it literally took only 15 minutes from the time the pasta water came to a boil. Apart from pantry staples (a box of dried pasta, garlic, olive oil, parmesan, black pepper, salt, and red pepper flakes) only 2 sweet fresh red peppers are required. Don’t have red peppers in the fridge? Use Brussels sprouts or cabbage or winter squash (you will need to peel and cut them into quite small cubes) or red onion or fresh tomatoes in summer. If you have fresh herbs on hand or in the garden, toss them in at the end. What about basil with tomatoes, mint with carrots or peas, cilantro with frozen corn? Be inventive! It’s nice to have a color contrast but certainly not required.

3 Pepper Pasta

The 3 types of pepper in this recipe come from red peppers, a good pinch of red pepper flakes, and a generous grinding of black pepper.

You will have dinner on the table faster than it would take you to run to the deli for takeout.

3 Pepper Pasta with Garlic – serves 4 to 6 generously

Ingredients:

  • Dried pasta of your choice, I used a 1 lb. box of fusilli
  • 2 fresh red peppers, cored and seeded, then cut into julienne sticks
  • 4 – 5 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil plus more for drizzling
  • kosher salt
  • Pinch or about 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes (more if you want spicy)
  • Generous grind of black pepper, or about 1/2 teaspoon
  • Chopped parsley or other herb (optional), about 1/2 cup
  • Freshly ground parmesan or other hard cheese

Method:

  1. First bring a large pot of water to a boil, add a couple of teaspoons of salt. Pasta water should taste like the sea.
  2. While the water is coming to a boil, slice the red peppers and mince the garlic.
  3. Once the water comes to a boil, add your pasta and set a timer. The fusilli required 13 minutes for al dente. Since I planned to cook it with the red peppers at the end, I wanted a little bite left in it.
  4. Put a saucepan, large enough to hold the cooked pasta, over medium high heat. Add the olive oil and heat until it starts to shimmer.
  5. Add the fresh red pepper and pepper flakes, saute until it begins to soften (about 5 minutes)
  6. Add the garlic, turn down the heat as you want the garlic to soften but not brown.
  7. When the pasta is cooked, reserve about 1 cup of cooking liquid and drain the rest.
  8. Add the pasta to the saucepan with the peppers and garlic. Turn up the heat a bit and stir, add the reserved cooking water by tablespoons until the pasta softens a bit more and glistens. (You will probably not need the full cup.)
  9. Drizzle with more olive oil, grind the black pepper over the top, add the parsley and grated parmesan.

Dinner is served!

Add the red peppers to the hot pan along with the red pepper flakes

Softened Red Peppers

Add the pasta to the red peppers

Chopped Parsley

Pasta with red peppers, black pepper, garlic and parsley

Finish with freshly grated cheese

This recipe is similar to one of my very first posts for pasta with peas, another pantry staple this time from the freezer.

I am taking this to share with fellow bloggers at Fiesta Friday, over at Angie’s. Can you believe it is #163! Click on the link to see what everyone else is bringing to the party.

August – Fruit and Cucumber Salsa

August – Fruit and Cucumber Salsa

I don’t think summer is the season for fancy cooking. It is the time for salads of all kinds, melon and prosciutto, yogurt with fresh fruit and berries, juicy sliced tomatoes, BBQ, veggies on the grill, and chilled wine. The spotlight should be on highlighting the glory of the best local and seasonal ingredients, cooked (or not cooked) with a few fresh herbs and a drizzle of olive oil.

That being said, sometimes the food needs a little embellishing. Maybe you are expecting company or it is a special holiday weekend. I want to introduce the idea of a fruit salsa to go with those amazing grilled dishes. We are all familiar with a tomato based salsa but peaches, nectarines, watermelon, and mangos all make excellent salsas. If you live in Hawaii or the tropics, pineapples are also a good choice (I don’t think they are worth eating elsewhere…sorry Dole).

fruit salsa

fruit salsa

Use whatever is freshest and perfectly ripe but not mushy. This is a very loose recipe but I will give some general directions. I think the essentials are sweet, crisp, spicy heat, sharpness, acid, and salt. In the salsa shown above the peaches provide sweet, the cucumber is crisp, the chilis are heat, the onion sharp, and lime juice acid.

Ingredients

  • Fresh fruit, cut into cubes – I used 4 peaches
  • 1 large cucumber, peeled if necessary and cubed to the same size
  • 1 – 2 hot chilis – seeded and cut into small cubes, I used 1 jalapeno and 1 small red chili
  • 1/2 red onion – chopped finely
  • squeeze of lime juice
  • salt to taste

Again this is a very flexible list. If you have a ripe avocado, add it. What about a mix of fruit? Watermelon with tomatoes is a winner. Apples would be good in the fall. Have some fresh basil on hand? Wonderful! Cilantro? Yum! Mint? Oh my! See what I mean?

Notice that there is no oil in this salsa? None is needed. It is a good way to get an extra serving of fruits and vegetables deliciously without any additional fat.

Peach and Cucumber Salsa

Peach and Cucumber Salsa

I am taking this to share at Fiesta Friday #131, hosted by Angie. This weeks co-hosts are Su @ Su’s Healthy Living and Laura @ Feast Wisely. Click on the link to read the posts and join the party.

May – Spring Carrot Soup

May – Spring Carrot Soup

This soup came about because of my book club. It was my turn to host, we had decided on a salad pot luck. Because spring weather can be unpredictable here, I thought something warming would go well with all those wonderful cold salads. And I have to say that this soup was a big success. It is, by far, the best carrot soup I have ever tasted, without exception. This soup is not too sweet, not too strong, has amazing color, and the carrot flavor doesn’t hit you over the head. It is just right! It’s rich and thick without any butter or cream. In fact, this soup is both vegetarian and vegan. Plus, it has turmeric which is good for your immune system. You could call it a spring tonic is a bowl.

IMG_4475

Many recipes for carrot soup use vegetable or chicken stock, or even carrot juice as a base. I find those liquids completely overwhelm the flavors of the carrots. It’s better to use water, especially if the only choice is a packaged stock from the store. For this soup I used coconut water. It gave a subtle coconut flavor that married well with the ginger, turmeric and curry but let the carrots shine through. This recipe doesn’t use any cream (coconut or other) but you wouldn’t guess it. It’s thick and rich without all that fat. Serve it hot or chilled on a a warm day.

I did add a swirl of coconut cream and a sprinkle of carrot chips to each bowl just before serving.

This recipe will serve 8-10. Any extra soup will freeze well.

Ingredients

  • 4 lbs. of carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 3 large leeks, well washed and trimmed – use only the white and light green parts
  • 1 large shallot, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 1 yellow onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 6 cloves of garlic, peeled, smashed and coarsely chopped
  • 2 inch piece of ginger, peeled and coarsly chopped
  • 4 tablespoons of coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground curry powder
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 7-8 cups of coconut water, a bit more if you find it is too thick
  • Optional: coconut cream and a few carrot chips to finish

Method

  1. Place a large pot over medium heat, add the coconut oil and allow it to melt. Add the leeks, shallot, onion and garlic to the oil. Cook for 10 minutes until softened but not brown.
  2. Add the carrots, turmeric, curry powder, ginger, and lemon zest to the pot. Cook until the carrots begin to soften and all starts to have the most amazing aroma. This will take 10-15 minutes.
  3. Add the coconut water, bring to a boil and cover loosely. Turn the heat down to a simmer and cook for about 25 minutes until the carrots are completely soft and the stock looks murky.
    Carrot Soup

    Carrot Soup

    Carrot Soup - ready for blending

    Carrot Soup – ready for blending

  4. Turn off the heat and allow the soup to cool before blending in batches to a smooth consistency. I don’t recommend blending soup while it is hot, you may end up burning yourself and having most of the soup on the ceiling. For extra protection cover the blender with a tea towel.

    Cover your blender with a tea towel

    Cover your blender with a tea towel

  5. Pour the soup back into a pot and heat before serving (or serve chilled).
Carrot Soup

Carrot Soup

This soup is so wonderful that I think I will take it to the Fiesta Friday party at Angie’s blog. Come by the site by clicking here to see the wonderful food delicious treats other bloggers have brought to Fiesta Friday #121.

I am wishing all my readers a Memorial Day weekend filled with family, friends, BBQ, fun and gratitude. Gratitude to all those who have died defending our freedom while serving in the U.S. military. We grieve for them and their loved ones.