Lemon Rosemary White Bean Hummus

by Maja Lukic


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For me, personally, fall and winter are all about making use of pantry items such as dried beans. I am a huge fan of dried beans, actually, and always have a few varieties of beans and other dried provisions on hand. 

This recipe was born out of a desire to actually use up the massive quantities of dried goods I've been hoarding in my kitchen cupboards lately. I live in New York but sometimes I act like I have real estate to spare, which is absolutely not the case. Cleaning out the cupboards/closets is always a winning move.

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I also got a little herb crazy over the summer and, ever since, I have been looking for ways to justify my manic expenses at garden and hardware stores back in July. Although my kitchen windowsill is lined with pots and pots of herbs that are now rapidly drying out, the rosemary and thyme have turned out to be remarkably resilient and, therefore, very useful in my culinary exploits. (I can definitely get behind a plant that manages to thrive even under the care of a busy and self-absorbed lawyer). And so, this hummus is quite the herbal situation. I mean, it is literally packed with an assortment of both fresh and dried herbs.

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This pretty, green hummus has become everything to me. With layers of herbal and citrus notes, the resultant flavor is complex and brighter than one would expect. And it's completely versatile - I've used it as a dip, in avocado sandwiches and collard wraps, and on baked potatoes, roasted cauliflower, and roasted fish. Its clean lemon flavor is welcome everywhere, basically. 

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Lemon Rosemary White Bean Hummus (v/gf)

Makes approx. 3 cups  

1 cup dried cannellini beans (or 2 cans)

1 dried bay leaf

2 tbsp tahini 

1 tsp Dijon mustard

1 large clove garlic, minced

1/2 cup flat leaf parsley 

1 sprig of rosemary, finely minced* 

1 tsp dried oregano

juice and zest of 1 lemon* 

1-4 tbsp water, as needed* 

sea salt, to taste

For dried beans: soak the beans for at least 8 hours or overnight. Drain and rinse well. Cover with a few inches of water in a large soup pot, add a bay leaf, and bring the beans to a boil. Simmer on low to medium heat, partly uncovered, for about 40 to 45 minutes or until the beans are tender. If not using right away, the beans can be stored in the fridge in their cooking liquid for a few days. Otherwise, drain the beans well. Optional move: reserve a little bit of the cooking liquid to process the beans below. 

For canned beans: just drain and rinse them well.   

Transfer the beans to a food processor and add the tahini, mustard, garlic, parsley, rosemary, oregano, and half of the lemon juice and zest. Process until creamy, scraping down the sides as needed. If the mixture is dry, add in the water (or reserved bean cooking liquid), 1 tablespoon at a time until you achieve a creamy texture. Taste for seasoning and add salt and the remaining lemon zest/juice, as needed. 

The hummus can be stored in the fridge for up to a week (cover with plastic wrap by placing the plastic directly on top of the surface of the hummus to prevent it from drying out) or stored in the freezer for up to one month. 

 

Notes:  If you have a very large or very juicy lemon, start with 1/2 of the lemon zest and juice and taste before adding the rest.

Rosemary is strong - a little goes a long way. 

I know that it seems counterintuitive but adding water instead of oil yields a creamier hummus. Basically, tahini + water will always result in creamy perfection. 

 


Ottolenghi's Burnt Eggplant w/Tahini & Pomegranate

by Maja Lukic in


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Today, I am sharing one of my absolute favorite recipes from Yotam Ottolenghi's Plenty. Plenty, if you haven't read it yet, is a completely inspiring, gorgeous cookbook that features some of Ottolenghi's best vegetarian recipes. I can't rave about it enough. In my very humble opinion, Ottolenghi sets the standard for what vegetarian/vegan cooking should be: seasonal, inventive, beautiful, and delicious.

The recipe combines roasted eggplant flesh with a delicious mix of tahini, parsley, lemon juice, garlic, and pomegranate molasses. The end result is an addictive, creamy, smoky, tart, sweet, salty, and aromatic spread. It can stand on its own as a dip or condiment (far superior to any hummus I've ever had) or as a side to meat or fish. Or, as Ottolenghi suggests (and I highly recommend), it can be served as a refreshing Middle Eastern inspired salad with some chopped tomatoes and cucumbers.

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The only downside to this recipe is that it requires the use of a broiler in the middle of summer. (If you have a grill, you can certainly char the eggplant that way. I live in a studio in New York so that was not really an option.). Fortunately, the weather has been entirely unpredictable as of late. I took advantage of a chilly night in late July to char some eggplants under the broiler.

The salad hits you with a refreshing sweet/sour double dose of pomegranate. First, through the use of pomegranate molasses in the eggplant spread itself. (If you are unfamiliar with pomegranate molasses, as I was, do yourself a favor and pick up a bottle. Obsessed.). To finish, it's topped off with arils (or seeds) from a fresh pomegranate.

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I know what you're thinking. The pomegranate seems like one of those foods where the end result doesn't really justify the effort required to extract the edible portions (I'm putting grapefruit in this category, too). But it works so beautifully here that it would be a shame to leave it out. Removing the seeds can actually be pretty simple and, in fact, there are at least two easy methods for doing so.

The first is my own, gentler method. Fill a large bowl with water. Cut the pomegranate in half horizontally. Then dunk each half of the pomegranate into the water, cut side facing down, and use your fingers to separate the arils from the membrane. Discard the hard red pomegranate skin. The arils will sink to the bottom while the loose bits of white membrane will float to the surface. Use your hands or a small strainer to skim the white membrane bits from the surface of the water and discard them. You should be left with a bowl full of clean little red jewels. Strain the remaining water and arils and if there are bits of white pith membrane left on any of the seeds, gently remove them. I like this method because it's quick, clean, and will not bruise or damage the pomegranate seeds.

The second is Ottolenghi's more aggressive approach. Cut the pomegranate in half horizontally. Hold one half over a bowl, with the cut side against your palm, and use the back of a wooden spoon or rolling pin to knock the pomegranate skin. Continue beating until the seeds start coming out naturally and falling through your fingers into the bowl. Once all of the seeds are out, sift through the seeds to remove any bits of white skin or membrane.

You choose.

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I ended up making a double batch of this. I advise you to do the same.

Ottolenghi's Burnt Eggplant w/Pomegranate and Tahini (v/gf)

Adapted from Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi

Serves 4 as an appetizer/salad

1 large eggplant

1/3 cup organic tahini paste

1/4 cup water

2 tsp pomegranate molasses

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 garlic clove, crushed

3 tbsp chopped parsley

sea salt and black pepper

seeds from 1 pomegranate

Optional: a handful of mini cucumbers, sliced in half moons (peeled if not organic), 1 cup organic cherry tomatoes, halved, olive oil to finish

First, you will need to roast or char the eggplant. You have some options here. To cook the eggplant on a gas stovetop, line the area around the burner with foil to protect it. Put the eggplant directly on a moderate flame and roast for 12-15 minutes, turning frequently with metal tongs, until the flesh is soft and smoky and the skin is burnt all over. Ottolenghi suggests you keep an eye on it the whole time so it doesn't catch fire. I concur.

Alternatively, if you have an electric stove, you can broil them. First, pierce the eggplant skin all over with a sharp knife (if you skip this step, you will have exploding eggplants - I am just saying). Then, place the eggplant in a foil-lined tray directly under a hot broiler for 1 full hour, turning it every 15 minutes or so. It will be done when it is completely deflated and the skin is broken and burnt.

When it's cool enough to handle, cut the eggplant open and scoop out the flesh and drain (the eggplant will release a lot of water as it cools). Ottolenghi suggests letting it drain for at least 30 minutes but there's no reason to time it so precisely. Basically, just make sure it's fairly dry before you proceed.

Then chop the eggplant flesh roughly and transfer to a large mixing bowl. Add tahini, lemon juice, water, pomegranate molasses, garlic, parsley, and some salt and pepper. Mix well with a whisk. Alternatively, you can take the easier route (like me) and pulse everything together in a food processor. Taste and adjust seasoning, adding more garlic, lemon juice or molasses, as needed. The salad should be a delightful balance of sweet and sour flavors.

At this point, you can serve as is, topped with pomegranate seeds. Or you can go further (you should go further) and add sliced cucumbers and tomatoes to the eggplant mix. Then, top everything with pomegranate seeds and drizzle with olive oil. Devour. 

And your song to cook to? This awesome track by Sam Smith that I cannot get out of my head.