Archives for posts with tag: hummus

Last time there was a threatening storm in this region I threw a paella party with my friend Amy. This time, I was in Boston as part of a small team of cooks catering my dear friend Melony’s dinner party in Jamaica Plain (the Brooklyn of Boston). Paella for Irene. Middle Eastern Vegan for Sandy. I made it back to NYC yesterday just before the subways shut down.

I decided a while back that, for the party, I’d make hummus and ful served with dukkha and the tomatoes I canned in September. Ful is broad beans, or dried fava beans, mashed into a kind of paste with garlic, lemon juice, and olive oil. I turned to Yotam Ottolenghi for both the hummus and ful recipes and sort of winged it for the dukkha. Dukkha, by the way, is a staple of Egyptian street food—a finely (or coarsely, depending on preference) ground mixture of spices, nuts, and sesame seeds, traditionally served with pita that’s been dipped in olive oil before coated in the spice mixture. I’ve never heard of it served with hummus or ful but I couldn’t imagine this being a bad thing. I love Ottolenghi’s hummus and ful recipes — you cook both beans, separately, until they’re a disintegrated mush that makes for the creamiest spreads you’ve had. It requires lots of hand-squeezed lemon juice.

Here is the very non-New York kitchen I got to cook in this weekend, in JP…

I needed pita. I had enough to tend to in the thirty-six hours I was in Boston that making pita from scratch didn’t make the list. I asked Melony where we might get the freshest, tastiest pita and a friend steered us toward Sofra, a Middle Eastern bakery and cafe in the Mt. Auburn section of western Cambridge. I lived in Cambridge for a hot minute some years ago but had never heard of the place. Although I was somewhat familiar with its sister restaurant, Oleana, and Siena Farms, where they grow produce for both locations. It was a twenty-five minute car ride from JP to Sofra Saturday afternoon and all I can say is: dukkha donuts. That, and: go. Run. Get thee to Sofra! One thing—you can’t take the T there. Which, if you’re a local, is probably a bonus—helps keep the masses (and tourists) at bay.

I was enthralled with this place. I considered buying their own dukkah mixture but had brought all the spices and nuts with me from Brooklyn to make my own. So I walked around flustered for ten minutes unable to decide what to order. I settled on the aforementioned dukkha donut (last bite below), and split a rolled flatbread with spinach falafel and beet tzatziki with Melony. But a highlight might have been the espresso-sized shot of tahini hot chocolate: Sofra’s signature drink. And the pita, made to order, did not disappoint (also below).

The party was a grand success. It felt like a wedding—there were speeches, toasts, a lot of love in the room, and an impressive spread of both savory eats and sweet treats. I won’t bother to retype Ottolenghi’s recipe for hummus and ful, which you can find here. I barely tweaked it—other than multiplying proportions by four, in order to serve thirty people—you can’t go wrong following this recipe to a t. But I do want to share my recipe for dukkha, below. And a shout out to my step-mother for giving me the initial inspiration after tasting a batch she had made a couple months ago.

And last, but not least, I made what has become my party staple: Union Square Cafe bar nuts. Warm, salty toasted nuts tossed with rosemary, cayenne, salt, and a hint of brown sugar. These are best served warm to guests right as they’re arriving, a little hungry, with a fresh drink in hand.


1 c assorted, unsalted, raw mixed nuts (almonds, hazelnuts, cashews, walnuts, peanuts)
1/2 c sesame seeds
1/4 c cumin seeds
1/4 c coriander seeds
2 tbsp fennel seeds
1 tbsp black peppercorns
1 tbsp fenugreek
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp paprika

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Toast the nuts on a baking sheet for 10 to 15 minutes until fragrant and lightly browned. Remove from baking sheet and let cool. Place the sesame, cumin, coriander, cumin, and fennel seeds on the baking sheet and toast in the oven for about 5 minutes. Let cool. Then combine all the ingredients—nuts, seeds, spices, salt—in a food processor and blend to desired consistency.

Union Square Cafe Bar Nuts

1 1/4 lb mixed, unsalted nuts
2 tbsp coarsely chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 tsp cayenne
2 tsp dark brown sugar
2 tsp salt
1 tbsp butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the nuts onto a baking sheet and toast in the oven until light golden brown, about 10 minutes. In a large bowl combine the rosemary, cayenne, brown sugar, salt, and melted butter. Toss the toasted nuts with the spiced butter and serve warm.

Chickpeas, quinoa, and yams, Oh My!

My dear friend Sarah recently sent me a gift in the mail: a cookbook entitled Whitewater Cooks with Friends, by Shelley Adams. Whitewater Resort is nestled in the Rockies in Nelson, British Columbia, where Adams is head chef. The book is special for me as someone who lived in B.C. for a couple of years and loved the simplicity, freshness, and local delicacies (Nanaimo Bars!) of Vancouver Island and beyond.

I love flipping through the book for the photos and the comments like “Buying good quality pasta sauce, pasta and homemade sausages is totally worth it. Go to Star Grocery in Trail, B.C. and ask for Pasquale!” Or, “Think ‘classic’ and we think Petra!” And, for the broccoli salad, “Test driven on many a Kootenay kid!” Sarah recommended I try the chickpea, quinoa, and roasted yam salad; it’s the first thing I’ve made from the book.

I couldn’t help tweaking the recipe a little (I’m a tinkerer), so I tailored it to August and my local farmer’s market, adding local cherry tomatoes and sorrel, and cooking the chickpeas rather than using canned. I added some heat by using a pinch of hot red chili pepper flakes. I can’t wait to eat this all week for lunch, adding avocado or more greens along the way. Feta would also be great in this but I left it out this round. You can have fun with this recipe and substitute according to your tastes, the season, and what you have on hand.

I ended up with a lot of leftover chickpeas—I cooked too many—so made a quick hummus. I blended the cooked chickpeas (along with the onion I had cooked them with), one roasted red pepper, a clove of garlic, some lemon juice, olive oil, sesame seeds, salt, and pepper.

Chickpea, Quinoa, and Roasted Yam Salad
Adapted from Shelley Adams

For the salad:
1/2 c quinoa
2 yams, peeled and cut into 1/2 in. cubes
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper (or black pepper)
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 c dried chickpeas* or 2 cans chickpeas
1 carrot, peeled and grated
1 red pepper, chopped
Handful of cherry or sungold tomatoes, halved
1/2 c roasted sunflower seeds
1 c greens (spinach, mesclun mix, sorrel)
optional: 1/2 c parsley, chopped, and 1/2 c feta cheese, crumbled

For the dressing:
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp dijon mustard
salt and pepper

*If you’re using dried instead of canned chickpeas get cookin’! You actually want to soak your chickpeas in plenty of cold water overnight, or at least 4-6 hours. Drain the soaking liquid. Transfer chickpeas to a large pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil. I added an onion, cut in half, mustard seeds, black peppercorns, fennel seeds, and 2 juniper berries. Cook the chickpeas on medium-high heat for about 45 minutes or until fully cooked. Drain the hot water and let cool completely.

Place the quinoa and 3/4 c cold water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Turn off heat, leave lid on, and let stand for 5 minutes. Cool the quinoa on a baking sheet.

Toss the yams with olive oil, salt, and pepper and place on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Bake for about 20 minutes at 350 F.

Make the dressing by combining the oil, vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper and whisking together. Set aside.

Place the chickpeas, carrots, red pepper, cherry tomatoes, sunflower seeds, greens, and parsley and feta if using, and the cooled quinoa and yams in a large bowl. Pour dressing all over and toss gently. Serve with any number of things: crusty bread, bruschetta, focaccia, grilled fish, olives, etcetera! The salad is also just about hearty enough for a meal on its own.

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