Since spring arrived here with bells on, we developed a new Saturdays “tradition”, we have a brunch type meal, vegetarian and dairy free, usually our vegan neighbors (and friends) will join in too, and we will spend the day outside lazing around together. We love sharing our meals with friends – the atmosphere of big happy communal meals. It’s a perfect way to enjoy our weekend. We like the picnic vibe that allows us to make most of the sun outside.
The meal of choice for us lately, is a middle eastern type of meal. It’s constructed of homemade Hummus and Pita (flatbread), usually accompanied by a peppers/tomato Moroccan spicy dip.
We add a lot of veggies, some really good olives, hard boiled eggs (for the non-vegan of us) and the kids usually get French fries (oven baked) to go with it.
I like this meal since the Hummus (chick pea spread) brings a lot of nutritional advantages into it, like protein, fibers, amino acids, calcium and vitamin B.
We love Hummus – however when you buy the ready made one in the supermarket it is sometimes filled with additives that are meant to extend its shelf life and are not great for you, to say the least, which is why I make it at home.
The one thing that you MUST remember when it comes to chick peas is that if you buy it in dry, in a package and not canned or from the frozen section , you MUST soak it in water for at least 12 hours before cooking it – it is much easy on the digestion system that way. What I do is-I open the package as soon as I buy it – empty it into a big bowl, fill it with water until all peas are covered and let it sit. I change the water a few times for the first few hours, and then just let it sit till through the night (if it’s really warm outside where you are, put the bowl in the fridge for the night). In the Morning I rinse it off, and then divide the whole batch into little zip lock bags, Putting two cups of chick peas in each bag – and into the freezer it goes. This way I have the chick peas ready to be used for whatever I want (I use it for soups too). Two cups is what you need for one batch of Hummus that serves about 6 people.
So after this long intro, here is the recipe for a fantastic healthy homemade Hummus. (Please note, you can add or decrease the flavoring according to your preference, I like my Hummus on the mild, more natural side)
2 cups of (pre-soaked as mentioned above) chick peas.
1 Onion peeled and halved
5 cloves of garlic
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
freshly squeezed juice from half a lemon.
1 to 2 tablespoons of tahini with a little bit of its oil.
Spices – salt, cumin (not a must), black pepper
Cook chick peas in water along with the halved onion and the garlic cloves, for about 45 minutes.
Add the baking soda and a little salt. Let it cook for 15 more minutes.
The chickpeas are ready, when you can crumple it between two fingers with no effort.
Once cooked, drain it from water – but keep about half a cup of the cooking water for later.
Get rid of the thin peels that fall off the chick peas during the cooking. Throw away the cooked onion and garlic cloves.
Put chick peas in a food processor (or vitamix if you have one).
Add lemon juice, tahini, one sliced garlic clove, a little cumin if you like it, salt (start with very little and adjust later if needed) blend it all together until you get a light smooth spread.
If the spread is too thick and pasty add some of the cooking water you saved, gradually, until you get the consistency you like ( I like mine light and fluffy).
Adjust flavors according to your own preference.
Serve with an extra virgin olive oil dribbled on top.
Home made easy to make Pita:(this recipe makes about 14 pitas)
4 cups of all-purpose flour
2 TBS dry yeast
2 TSP of sugar
1 TSP salt
2 TBS olive oil
1 1/4 cups of lukewarm water.
Mix flour and yeast, add sugar, then add water gradually until you get a consistent, easy to work with dough. Add oil and salt, knead for 5 minutes.
Cover and let it sit for about half an hour.
Make little balls of dough and roll each one to a flat disc.
Heat up a heavy pan on the stove – no oil needed.
When the pan is VERY hot place the pita inside, it will inflate after a few seconds, flip it after about a minute or two, and let the other side cook for another minute. That is all it takes.
If you are looking for a dairy free dessert then you may want to check the dairy free apple pie recipe.
I will leave you with a quote I wholeheartedly agree with:
“I’m just someone who likes cooking and for whom sharing food is a form of expression.”