Sea Salt & Olive Oil Tahini

by Maja Lukic


At this point, I've basically given up any semblance of regular updates. My visits here are infrequent but, I hope, still worthwhile somehow? It's a freeing thing, letting go of obligations. I mean, nothing makes me happier than canceling an event or saying no. But lest you think that all I do now is sit around drinking tea, eating grapes, and reading Knausgaard (though on many nights, that is quite literally all I do), let me inform you that I've been up to some things. 

For example, my talented friend Scott just launched a magazine--it's called Boxy Mag and it's fantastic. You should absolutely bookmark it and then do the requisite social media liking/following. The content changes regularly (unlike my blog) and it's always varied and interesting, informative and occasionally irreverent. The inaugural October issue was dedicated to food, but future issues may delve into fashion, art, life in the city, etc. I had a breakfast recipe feature recently, which you can check out here

In any event, I'm still writing my way through several projects, running off to workshops, loitering at coffee shops and bookstores as if I'm actually working on something epic, and generally cavorting in the last few breaths of warm air. So this will be a quick update. 

This homemade tahini is essential to me. If you're accustomed to the store-bought version, this is a slightly different beast. The flavor is different. This version is saltier, but also, store-bought tahini sometimes leaves a lingering bitter aftertaste--not so with its homemade counterpart, which has a well-rounded, creamy feel. The formula is dead simple and the process of making it is even kind of meditative--toasting the pale raw seeds, processing the cooled seeds into a rough marzipan-textured paste, and then drizzling in fragrant olive oil until the seeds are spun into silky, smooth tahini. Okay, it's about as meditative as any food processor project, but I do kind of like the metamorphic aspect of recipes like this. Also, I'm easily entertained. 

And now that you're all set with a jar of homemade tahini, may I direct you to a few excellent uses for it? A salad or hummus are respectable starting points. But if you're into bolder experimentation, try one of these delicious recipes:

Roasted squash with lemon tahini sauce

Goji ginger tahini cream

Raw tahini cups with coffee cream filling 

Because Ottolenghi.

Sea Salt & Olive Oil Tahini (v/gf)

Makes approx. 1 cup

2 cups organic raw sesame seeds

1/2 tsp sea salt

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (see note)

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Spread the sesame seeds on a rimmed baking sheet and place in the oven on the middle rack. Roast for about 5 to 10 minutes, stirring often, until fragrant and lightly golden brown. Be careful--they burn easily.

Allow to cool for about 10 minutes. 

Transfer the sesame seeds to a food processor and pulse a few times. Process for a few minutes until the seeds begin to come together in a rough, dry paste. Add the sea salt. With the motor running, slowly pour in the olive oil and process until the mixture is creamy and smooth.

Store in the fridge for up to 1 month. 

Note: For sweet/neutral applications, reduce the sea salt to a pinch and use a neutral oil like avocado or grapeseed. 


Lemon Rosemary White Bean Hummus

by Maja Lukic


DSC01875.JPG

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.

DSC01899.JPG

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.

DSC01841.JPG
DSC01876.JPG

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. 

DSC01836.JPG

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. 

 


Roasted Fennel Hummus

by Maja Lukic in


FennelHummus11

I am a hummus fiend and always have some in the fridge for snacks or an impromptu dinner. Much like tahini, avocados, and bananas, hummus satisfies that need for a creamy element in a dairy-free diet. Today, I am sharing my current favorite flavor: roasted fennel. I am obsessed with this hummus and will be until next month when I roll out my other hummus experiments. Fennel - it's a divisive vegetable. Much like cilantro, people seem to either really love it or hate it. I personally adore fennel, licorice, and anise-flavored liqueurs but I realize that anise flavors are actually pretty difficult for a lot of people.

FennelHummus08

But even if you don't particularly love fennel, I suspect that you might like this hummus. The roasting process brings out fennel's natural sweetness, making it far less offensive than it is in its raw state. In fact, I think roasting is the best way to prepare any strongly disliked vegetable. (I plan to roast some okra one of these days to prove this theory.).

Fennel is an extremely efficient vegetable and, for a long time, I wasted much of it, using only the bulb. But the entire thing can and should be used. The fronds are delicate and decorative - save them for salads or garnish. The long stalks remind me of celery and are perfectly edible as long as they're not too fibrous. I actually include them here when I roast the fennel. And the core of the fennel is my favorite part because I'm weird and I like to crunch on vegetable cores (cabbage and cauliflower are favorites). The core can also be sliced up and tossed into a salad.

FennelHummus16

As for the chickpeas, you are welcome to use either dried or canned beans but I prefer dried. The flavor is better and they're easier to carry home from the grocery store. Also, if you cook them up with baking soda, as described below, they will be perfectly cooked in no time.

There is some debate on whether or not chickpeas have to be meticulously peeled in order to obtain a perfectly smooth hummus. I will leave you with two solid methods of preparing the chickpeas and you can decide whether or not you want to bother with the peeling process.

FennelHummus18

First, according to Smitten Kitchen, whether or not you use dried or canned chickpeas, you should peel them because it makes for a much smoother hummus. And when you look at her hummus, it's a pretty convincing argument. I have done it in the past and would have to agree that it does indeed make for a smoother, creamier hummus product. (Full disclosure: I did not peel the chickpeas here because I followed Ottolenghi's cooking method below. Also, the addition of chunks of roasted fennel here would probably prevent a completely smooth hummus but you get the idea.). SK claims this entire process takes only nine minutes. Peeling is pretty simple, too: take a chickpea between your thumb and next two fingers, with the pointy end facing in towards your palm, and slip the chickpea out of its skin. Discard the skin.

On the other hand, Yotam Ottolenghi's hummus recipe in the very excellent Jerusalem requires no peeling. My adoration of Ottolenghi is pretty well documented by now so you can guess which method I followed. See below for cooking instructions.

FennelHummus09

That's it. Start making your own hummus. Don't settle for those $1.99 tubs at Whole Foods, which I have to admit are pretty decent, but don't settle. Homemade hummus is so much more flavorful and vibrant, and because the recipe contains minimal oil, tahini, and garlic, the end result is creamy, subtle, and completely refreshing. Perfect for summer. And parties. Summer parties. I beg you to try it.

Roasted Fennel Hummus (v/gf)

Makes 4 cups

Hummus:

1 cup dried chickpeas, soaked overnight, or 2 cans low-sodium chickpeas

2 cups Roasted Fennel (see below)

1/4 cup tahini

1-2 garlic cloves, minced

3 tbsp lemon juice

2-4 tbsp water

sea salt, to taste

reserved fennel fronds, dried fennel seeds, olive oil (for garnish)

Roasted Fennel:

2 large fennel bulbs

1/2 tsp dried oregano

olive oil, sea salt, freshly ground black pepper

If using dried chickpeas, place the chickpeas in a bowl the night before and cover them with plenty of cold water. Allow them to soak on the counter overnight. The next day, simply drain and rinse well.

To cook the chickpeas, add 6 cups of water, bring to a boil, and then let the chickpeas simmer for about 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until very tender. When they're cooked, drain, and peel per SK's instructions, if you wish. Alternatively, to cook the chickpeas per Ottolenghi's (genius) method, add the drained chickpeas and 1 teaspoon of baking soda to a medium saucepan. Cook over high heat for about three minutes, stirring constantly. Add about 6 cups of water and bring to a boil. Cook, skimming off any foam or skins that float to the surface. This should take anywhere from 20 to 40 minutes, depending on the type and freshness of your chickpeas. Once done, they should be very tender and almost but not quite mushy. When cooked like this, the chickpeas are impossible to peel because they're so tender, so I usually do not bother peeling them.

If using canned chickpeas, drain, and rinse well. Peel the chickpeas per SK's instructions, if you wish. If you do not mind a more rustic look, skip the peeling.

To prepare the roasted fennel, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Trim the stalks and greens from the fennel bulbs. Save the greens for garnish. If the outer thick leaves of the bulbs are fibrous and tough, remove them and set them aside for another use (soup stock?). Slice each bulb in half lengthwise and cut each half crosswise into 1/2" thick slices. If the stalks are not too fibrous, slice the stalks into 1/2" thick coins and add them to the mix. Spread the sliced fennel out on a large baking sheet in a single layer and add just enough olive oil so that it doesn't stick to the baking sheet. Sprinkle with the dried oregano and a little bit of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Roast for about 20 minutes or until the fennel is completely soft and lightly browned. Set aside to cool and try not to devour it.

Once the fennel and chickpeas have cooled, place the vegetables in a food processor and process until you have a smooth paste. Add the tahini, garlic, and lemon juice. With the machine running, add water, one tablespoon at a time, until the mixture becomes creamy and smooth. Taste for seasoning, adding more salt or lemon juice, if needed.

Transfer the hummus to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let it rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. Store in the fridge until you are ready to serve. Make sure to take the hummus out of the fridge at least 30 minutes before serving. For optional garnish, drizzle with olive oil, and scatter reserved fennel fronds and dried fennel seeds on top. 

This makes a lot of hummus but hummus freezes very well. Throw 1-cup or 1/2-cup portions into small freezer bags or wrap up in little wax paper or Press'n'Seal packages. Left in the fridge, though, it should be consumed within a few days.