Thursday, September 16, 2004


You don’t have to make these things together, but I always, always do. And it’s so good. When I lived alone, on many a summer night I’d simply have a big bowl of hummus, with pita crisps and a green salad, for dinner. The hummus recipe probably makes enough to serve at least four hungry people as a side dish or appetizer dip, but me, I’d eat half of it in one sitting. If the pita crisps ran out, I’d eat it with a spoon. And considering I don’t really like beans, especially cold beans, and especially not garbanzo beans, this is a good testimonial to the power of mom’s hummus. Easiest hummus in the world to make, too—no messing with tahini or anything fancy. (I suppose that might not make it "real" hummus and I should probably be calling it "chickpea dip" or something, but who cares? To me, the flavor is better without the tahini anyway.) As for the pita crisps, I don’t know where I got the recipe but they’re very good with the hummus.

So now that I’m cooking for two I’m aware that not everyone considers a big bowl of hummus a dinner, and when I make hummus and pita crisps I usually serve them with Fattoush (Tomato-Cucumber Salad With Herbs and Toasted Pita), and it all goes really nicely together. It’s complex to make so many things at once, especially in the pita-toasting department, and it does turn into a bit of a raw garlic extravaganza—which is delicious to me and quite healthy I’m told, and not overpowering while you’re eating it, but expect to have garlicmouth when you wake up the next morning. Regardless, it all makes a good, fresh, light (if you restrain yourself around the pita crisps), summery meal.

A took over the making of the pita crisps, spreading on the butter and sprinkling on the oregano and cheese while I was juggling the making of the hummus and fattoush. I highly recommend having a kitchen boy, if you can procure one.

2 6-inch pita breads (the kind with pockets)
2 teaspoons butter
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons dried oregano

1. Preheat the broiler and get out a baking sheet. Cut the pitas in half across and split each half horizontally with your fingers, pulling the two sides of the pockets apart, to create 8 thin semicircular pieces. Then cut each semicircle into three triangular wedges. (I know, this sounds like a math problem.) Place the pieces, rough side up, in a single layer on the baking sheet.

2. Very lightly spread each pita piece with butter, then sprinkle each one with a small amount of cheese, and then sprinkle each generously with oregano. (I don’t bother with the measurements for the butter, cheese, or oregano anymore, as I make this so often it’s easy to eyeball how much to use.) Digression about annoyingness of recipe: it asks you to spread the pitas with butter, cheese, and oregano before cutting them into thirds—which probably makes it easier to butter, but also makes it much harder to cut them without dislodging all the cheese and oregano all over the baking sheet. Also, you’re told to “Toss together the Parmesan cheese and oregano in a small bowl.” Why dirty a whole bowl just for that? Sprinkling on the cheese and then shaking on the oregano works just as well. End of digression about annoyingness of recipe.

3. Broil the pitas for about 2 minutes, or until lightly browned. (Speaking from experience, I advise you to watch them closely! That broiler will burn them to a crisp if you give it the chance.) Take them out of the oven, let them cool slightly, and then eat them dipped into the hummus. They’re best right away, but any leftovers will hold up OK stored in a Ziplock bag for a couple more days.

Serves: I usually get enough out of it to match the amount of hummus I have, which is 2 generous servings. I pften double it so there's plenty for leftovers, because the hummus' flavor is even better the next day.

Time: 15 minutes

1 clove garlic
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans, drained with liquid reserved

1. Peel the garlic and throw the whole clove in the blender, then add the lemon juice, oil, paprika, and salt. Blend everything until it's smooth (the garlic should be totally pureed).

2. Open the can of beans, drain the liquid (bleah) into a small bowl, and dump the beans into the blender. Then it’s just a question of blending everything until it’s smooth, thinning as needed with the reserved liquid. (The recipe says you can also thin with yogurt, though I’ve never attempted this.) I personally prefer my hummus to be on the thin side, so I use maybe a third of the liquid. Do whatever seems right to you. Scrape the hummus out of the blender into some bowls, sprinkle extra paprika on if desired, scoop it up with the pita crisps, and enjoy.

Serves: 2, generously (again, I often double this to ensure leftovers)
Time: 15 minutes

No comments: