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I opened the bottle of your vanilla extract last weekend to bake some cookies and the difference in taste is extraordinary." – Judy

Israeli Hummus

A friend of mine shares her copies of Bon Appetit with me, which I love as there’s a theme for each magazine. The photos are smart and some of the recipes beg to be tried.  It’s a great way to get inspired and who doesn’t need that? This last month was subtitled, “The Foods We Crave Now And How To Cook Them.”

A couple of weeks ago I was asked to do a major update of my first recipe book, The Artichoke Cookbook, which I wrote in 1984.  More than a recipe book, I included stories from the growers who lived between Half Moon Bay and Monterey as well as their favorite recipes. Most of the growers are of Italian heritage, many of them second, third, or fourth generation growers. And they love artichokes!

So while I was looking at the issue’s recipes and saw several spins on hummus I started thinking about artichoke dips and imagined hummus as a dip. The original book had no hummus recipes as it was not a household name in 1984, especially on the Central California Coast. But as I considered it in my mind, grainy and too heavy came to mind. Then I read a side bar titled, “The Wisdom of King Solomonov.” 

Michael Solomonov is the chef-owner of a modern Israeli restaurant, Dizengoff, in Southern California. Michael considers hummus the base of the entire meal. “It’s not a dip,” he explains, “It’s the foundation.” He then shares his tricks for perfect hummus. One of his suggestions is to go “off script,” and be creative.

I was pulled in. Especially when I learned how to make a creamy hummus that tastes rich but is whipped and light-textured. The only problem is it included a long list of instructions — more than most of us are willing to spend on a dip, no matter how fabulous. This is where the creativity stepped in and I went off-script.

Instead of soaking the chickpeas overnight in water and baking soda then boiling them in a fresh pot of water with baking soda, which helps to break the chickpeas down, (he claims that overcooking the chickpeas is the trick to a smooth hummus) I decided to see if this would work with a precooked can of chickpeas. It does! So this is my quick-and-easier take on Chef Solomonov’s hummus. It’s as wonderful with artichokes (or raw vegetables like carrots and celery) as it is with pita or other warm breads, a special plus for those of us who can’t eat wheat or gluten. The bonus is it’s healthy, high in fiber and not only offers lots of flavor, you can spice it up with Spanish smoked hot paprika or Siracha or keep it simple with garlic and lemon juice and chives or parsley.

You can use this as a dip or as one of several small plates for a light meal.

Israeli Hummus
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Ingredients
  1. 1 can high quality chickpeas
  2. 2 - 4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  3. 2 tablespoons lemon juice or more as needed
  4. 1/3 cup high quality tahini
  5. 1/4 teaspoon (or more) freshly ground cumin
  6. 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  7. Sea salt to taste
  8. Finely chopped chives or parsley for flavor
  9. Sweet or hot Spanish or Hungarian paprika (optional)
  10. Siracha Sauce (optional)
Instructions
  1. Place contents of the can of chickpeas into a small sauce pan. Add enough water (or broth) to cover the chickpeas with at least 1 inch of liquid. Place on medium high and bring to boil. Reduce heat so that the liquid is at a slow boil. Cook the chickpeas, adding more liquid if necessary until the skins of the chickpeas pop off and the chickpeas begin to break down. Using a slotted spoon, place chickpeas into a strainer and rinse with cool water. Remove all skins that have popped off of chickpeas and discard.
  2. Place chickpeas, garlic, lemon juice and tahini into a food processor or blender. Pulse the mixture to combine. With the motor running add bean liquid by the tablespoon until the mixture is very smooth and pale. This may take up to 4 minutes. Add cumin, vanilla and salt and process. Taste and adjust lemon juice, cumin, and salt to taste. Add more liquid until the mixture is thin enough to easily use as a dip.
  3. Scrape mixture into a serving bowl or a container if not using immediately. If you have placed the hummus into a bowl, taste and adjust flavors again if needed. Blend in chives or parsley and paprika or Siracha if using. Thin more if consistency is still thicker than you'd like. Make a well in the center of the hummus and drizzle with an ample amount of olive oil, especially into the center well.
  4. Serve with cooked artichokes and warm pita or other flat bread if desired.
Notes
  1. This recipe will make approximately two cups. Double the recipe if serving four or more people.
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Patricia Rain
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Patricia Rain

is an author, educator, culinary historian, and owner of The Vanilla Company (www.vanillaqueen.com), a socially conscious, product-driven information and education site dedicated to the promotion of pure, natural vanilla, and the support of vanilla farmers worldwide. She also does culinary presentations for food professionals, cooking schools, trade shows, food fairs, and private groups, and is a regular radio and TV guest.
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