No! Not a Hummus Recall!

Ever wonder what 30,000 cases of humus look like? I hadn’t until this very moment when I read about that number of cases being recalled for potential listeria contamination. Mercy that’s a lot of hummus. Listeria is a nasty bugger. If you buy hummus at the store, please check the details on this one. If you’d like to save a little money and have the freedom to make your hummus just as you like, take a look at all of our hummus recipes. Just search hummus and you’ll have plenty of options. Eat well, be well friends.

Hummus, Cottage Cheese and Beef – Recalls Abound

FSNBGood grief. I look away for a second and it’s recall mania. Hummus and other dips for listeria – see here. Cottage cheese for improper storage(?) – here. And 1.8 million pounds of meat for E.Coli – here. If you don’t use these items, please be sure to share this information with your friends. Nasty business. Eat well, be well.

What’s for Lunch? Grand-wiches and Expand-wiches

So you think you’re stuck with fast food or bologna for lunch, eh?  That is a bad place to be stuck my friends and I’d like to help you out.  Lunch is problematic for a lot of people because the traditional lunch repertoire is rather narrow, i.e. gets boring, i.e. forces you to not make it – settle for mediocre – go out for evil fast food.  It is a mire of danger, despair and disease awaiting you at noontime everyday!  Yikes, this is getting scary.

So in the tradition of Baby Steps and Riffing on a Theme in the Kitchen (I hope you were singing while you made that incredible orange hummus yesterday Little Sis)… I’d like to offer the Grand-wich and the Expand-wich.

Expand-wiches are what you make when you consider and include non-traditional layers for sandwiches.  Look in your fridge and find something that would taste good between slices of whole wheat bread, or rolled into a tortilla or heaped on a flat bread.  Really… most anything:

Sunday I looked in my fridge and found a humble eggplant, bought on sale with several vine mates that would soon be going bad because I bought too many.  I thought, “Gee wouldn’t a roasted eggplant sandwich be good?”  “Yes it would,” I answered myself, “But I don’t have time to roast any eggplant right now!”  So I nuked it instead.

Slice veggies about 1/4 – 1/2″ thick.
I drizzled one with homemade oil and vinegar/tahini / Bragg’s / lemon juice dressing  – I’d recommend about 2 – 3 tsp spread out onto the slice.  (You can use this dressing recipe until I get my act together and quantify the above.)
The other I drizzled with olive oil, rice vinegar and Bragg’s – again maybe a total of 2 – 3 tsp, but this one is meant to be super easy and fast / not really necessary to mix or  measure : just drizzzzle.
Nuked for a total of 2 minutes, covered

Placed my eggplant on a slice of Ezekiel bread that I’d spread with artichoke spread.

I ate it just like that and it was really good, but I highly recommend adding more items from your frig :
lettuce, tomato, cheese, other veggies (hot or cold) or if you eat meat – some roast chicken or turkey left over from another meal.

Expand-wiches expand the list of items you can use in a sandwich.  You can take this idea to either roast,  nuke or go raw with the following items that I think are amenable to sandwiching:
Portabello mushrooms
zucchini or yellow squash
Long way sliced carrots
asparagus
green beans
sauteed greens : swiss chard, kale, collards, bok choy
Namul (as described by Little Sis)
tofu
tempeh
olives
apple slices
sauteed greens
ETC.

Now to make it a grand-wich you add a new and different topping!  See beyond the mustard or mayonnaise in your fridge (although as Baby Steps are still encouraged if you eat more vegetables with your mustard and mayo that is a VERY good thing).  The artichoke spread I used above has a very mayonnaisey consistency.  I described a veggie and bean dip and Little Sis described a scrumptious sounding orange hummus in our most recent posts.  Veggie and bean spreads make your lunches healthier and more interesting.  Worth packing.  Worth eating and worth investing a little time in.  But really is it any more time to make a lunch the night before than it is to leave your place of work to go spend too much money on food that is not very good for you?

If you don’t like sloppy or a sandwich that is too thick, try wraps and tortillas.  You can really just throw stuff in these babies and roll with it ; )

Combinations I’ve tried:

Salad in a wrap with feta cheese or hummus

leftover roast chicken with leftover roasted potatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes and beets – with mayonnaise, hummus or artichoke dip, or lettuce for some moisture.

leftover roast chicken with leftover pasta sauce – preferably that has big chunks of vegetables like zucchini or eggplant or spinach or swiss chard or onion… you get the idea.  You can top with cheese if you like!

leftover veggies with hummus or bean dip

veggies and fruit

leftover greens sauteed with garlic and cheese….or hummus…. or other bean dip.

tofu with salad in a wrap

tofu, apples, walnuts and artichoke dip

So you see, the bread or tortilla or wrap is your canvas and a great variety of foods are your colors… and as simple as it is, the combinations are endless.  Let us hear about your Grand-wich and Expand-wich creations!

Riffing on a Theme in the Kitchen

When a musician “riffs on a theme,” she keeps some core element of a bit of music and adds new bits, changes it in some way, re-interprets that bit in a new way.  She may do all of those things.  Some central and fundamental bit remains, the theme, but the riffing is what makes it new, fresh, and individualized.  Riffing on a theme is a great way for someone to get into cooking and to provide a wide variety of dishes based on a few core theme dishes.  The spinach namul dish that I wrote about a couple of days ago is like this – you can riff on the namul all over the place and have a wide variety of nutritious and delicious veggie bits.  The white bean dip that Big Sis wrote about on Sunday is a riff on a theme as well – the infamous bean dip with other delish bits.  Today we’re going to explore veggie spreads a little more with the queen mother of all bean-based spreads… hummus.

I’m imagining that hummus is no longer new to folks, that you have at least had it on a chip at some group event, but I want to encourage you for a moment to REALLY give hummus a good go.  It is incredibly versatile – dip, sandwich filling, cracker spread, spoon in mouth (okay that’s me and I REALLY like hummus).  Hummus is a great way to add some vegetable protein, fiber, and flavor to your diet in places that might otherwise require mayonnaise and deli meat (we can talk about that more later, too, wow I better start a list).  So in my never-ending quest to provide some measure of acceptable variety at lunchtime, I’ve broached hummus a few times.  Until a few days ago, however, I never had hummus like this.

Baja Hummus – Inspired by Dreena Burton’s Black Bean & Orange Hummus in Eat, Drink, and Be Vegan

  • 2.5 c cooked black beans
  • 1/4 c orange juice
  • 3 T tahini (or nut butter of whatever kind you have)
  • 1 large clove garlic
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 3 T red wine vinegar
  • 3/4 t salt
  • 1 t cumin
  • 1/4 t chili powder (whatever kind you like)
  • 1/3 c fresh parsley
  • 1 t orange zest (zest before squeezing juice)

Throw all of your ingredients into a food processor and go to town.  Stop a couple of times to scrape down bowl with spatula.  Process until you get the consistency you like.  We loved this slathered onto a whole wheat tortilla and covered with a whole mess of spinach and a few slices of avocado.  Delish.

One of the great things about hummus is that it is the perfect dish to practice riffing on a theme – using a basic recipe and applying different flavor profiles to it.  If you look closely at the recipe above, you can see the main components of a hummus: beans, a nut or seed butter (or sometimes just nuts) an acid (citrus is common, but sometimes it’s just vinegar), a little oil, and flavorings.  The proportions are important only to the extent that your food processor will spin on its own and create a texture that you like.  While my darling spouse and I LOVE, LOVE, LOVED the Baja Hummus, our children were not inclined to give it a go.  I think the color did them in.  And, silly me, I wasn’t thinking about the fact that they actually DO like chickpeas – a wiser bean choice for the every 4 months or so “let’s see if you like hummus now” test.

So after we demolished the Baja Hummus, I decided to make a milder version to attempt a second pass at the hummus accord.  I used the above recipe as a guide because I liked the texture of the first hummus and simply changed some of the ingredients to mellow things out a bit.

GARBANZORANGE HUMMUS

  • 2.5 c cooked garbanzo beans
  • 1/3 c orange juice
  • 3 T tahini
  • 1 small garlic clove
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 2 T red wine vinegar
  • 3/4 t salt
  • 1/2 t cumin
  • 1/4 c parsley
  • 1 tsp orange zest

Bits in processor bowl.  Go to it.  Scrape down sides a couple of times.  Run it until it’s the consistency you like.  Suggest to your little ones that maybe they’d like some chickpea (okay, so I called them tushies, cause you know the chickpea has a little bum on it and it cracks my kids up) hummus.  Totally different reception.  Still didn’t win over my picky one, but she at least took a bite.  The boy declared it delicious and began campaigning to get his sister to eat some.  We will get there.  And so will you, just keep trying different versions and you’ll find the one that makes your family go garbanzos (har, har)!  Maybe a more Mediterranean version would work (yeah, I know, I’m like a compass, I have to go there).  Replace the orange juice with lemon juice or a mix of lemon juice and wine vinegar and add sun dried tomatoes, roasted peppers, and pine nuts.  How about a little Frenchy hummus action?  That would surely include some thyme and perhaps a little basil.  Maybe white wine vinegar in place of the red wine and lemon in place of orange juice.  The really great thing here friends is that beans are CHEAP.  Buy them dried and boil them at night while you’re doing other things.  Store in jar in fridge until you’re ready to use them (don’t wait too long, they will spoil) and then you’ve got a really cost effective sandwich filling to spread your culinary wings with.  Riff on that theme.  Polish those chops.  Pretty soon you’ll be improvising with the best of them.  And it will be Delish.

A Note on Cooking with Beans:  While canned beans are convenient, they can be loaded with salt and they are, while still cheap as proteins go, far more expensive than dried beans.  The problem with dried beans?  Well, they’re dried.  So whipping something up at the drop of a hat doesn’t seem possible.  My solution to this is to either 1) soak beans overnight prior to cooking and using them the next day OR occasionally at night or on the weekend I will do a quick soak (bring beans to a boil, boil for 2 minutes and then soak in hot water for an hour) so that all that’s left is cooking time.  If time allows, I will also go ahead and cook them further and store them in the fridge completely ready to go.  More info on cooking with dried beans can be found here.