Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Deconstructed hummus

This post has three parts. In the first, I wax poetic about bulk spices. In the second, I wax poetic about dry chickpeas. In the third I give you a recipe.

The Central Market near me recently (past six months or so) started selling bulk spices. Oh my goodness, it's awesome. I have often read that buying spices in bulk was the way to go, but there weren't many places for me to do that. I could get a few things in gigantic bags from Indian, Middle Eastern, and Chinese grocery stores, but while I saved in the unit price, I had to get a lot at one time. Now I can get exotic spices tablespoons (and cents) at a time, saving me money and storage space and keeping my spices fresher. Combined with my recent acquisition of a spice grinder, I lead a charmed life.

Since I love listening to Saturday morning radio (Car Talk, Wait Wait, and even the insufferable twits on Says You) and have an HD radio in the kitchen, I like to have cooking projects on Saturday morning. This past Saturday, I made a batch of granola and cooked up a pound of chickpeas I had soaked overnight. I am always amazed at how cheaply I can make food from dry beans. I can buy a pound of dried chickpeas for 99 cents at my Fiesta. Cooked, that's about six and a half cups. I made two cups of the chickpea salad below and used two cups in Mark Bittman's roasted chickpea dish. (It's quite nice, and I might post it on here later once I play with it a little more.) I had two cups leftover. Some have gone on salads, and I used some in a delicious "inspiration soup" last night. I probably have about a cup of chickpeas still left in the fridge. I saved the cooking liquid and used it as the base of the soup. All those recipes for under a dollar's worth of chickpeas! It's great. Canned chickpeas are also quite cheap compared to meat or restaurant food, but the dried ones are unbeatable.

Deconstructed hummus

2 cups cooked chickpeas
Juice of 1/2 lemon (about 1 tbsp)
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tbsp za'atar (to make your own, see next recipe)
Salt to taste

Combine ingredients and adjust seasoning to taste. I wanted to let you know whether it was better the next day, but Jon ate it all before I had a chance. It was really good.

Za'atar (from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman)
1/4 cup sesame seeds
2 tbsp dried thyme
2 tbsp sumac

Toast the sesame seeds in a toaster oven or a dry skillet until golden. Allow to cool. Combine spices.

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