Warm Hummus with Almonds and Chili Butter

Hummus, a tangy dip of crushed chickpeas and sesame paste, has become more and more popular. It’s enjoyed by both meat-eaters and vegetarians, and has become a staple at many gatherings. Served with bread and sliced carrots and celery, it’s good for lunch. Even Aldi now offers four or five different varieties of hummus. It’s become as American as pizza!

So when I ran across a recipe for baked hummus in “Mezze: Small Plates to Share,” by Ghillie Basan, I had to try it. The hummus was bubbling and smoking when I pulled it out of the oven, and Jim and I fell on as though we were starving. I had made pita bread (see my post Sacred Bread, March 7, 2016 for the recipe), and we tore it apart and scooped up the dip, tangy with lemon and garlic, and with the added heat of red pepper flakes. So good.

Warm Hummus with Almonds and Chilli Butter

2 15-oz. cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
2 garlic cloves,  crushed
4 tablespoons olive oil
freshly squeezed juice of two lemons
2 tablespoons tahini
2 cups whole milk yogurt
salt and pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons sliced almonds
3 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
pita bread, to serve

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Oil an ovenproof dish with olive oil. (I used a 9-inch round earthenware dish, or an 8 x 8 inch square Pyrex dish could be used.)

Pour chickpeas, cumin seeds, crushed garlic, olive oil and lemon juice into a blender. Whizz until the mixture is a thick paste. You may have to stop and start the blending a number of times, scraping the mixture down into the blender, so the mixture forms a paste. Add the tahini, salt and pepper, and continue to blend. Add the yogurt and keep blending, (stopping and scraping down several times) until smooth. Tip the mixture into the oiled baking dish.

Toast the sliced almonds in a little frying pan until they begin to brown. Add the butter and stir until it melts. Stir in the red pepper flakes. Pour this mixture over the hummus. Place into the preheated oven and bake for about 45 minutes, or until the hummus puffs up a bit and the butter has been absorbed. Serve immediately with fresh pita bread.

Notes: This is good baked or unbaked! With the juice of two lemons and the crushed garlic, either way, the flavor pops. You might consider making this in a food processor. The blender worked, but I had to stop and start, scraping the mixing down, quite often. So the food processor might work better. The appearance of the baked hummus is like that of the surface of the planet Venus, interesting, but maybe not beautiful! Garnishing with a little sprig of mint or parsley helps.

Below, hummus ready for oven, toasting the almonds, adding the butter, the yogurt and the brand of tahini I used.

Drying Daffodils

One of my most popular posts has been about drying daffodils (April 20, 2011). And since daffodils are still blooming, I thought I would mention again how it’s done. Simply place the daffodil between the pages of a phone book, close the book, place other books on top to weigh it down, and about one month later, the daffodil is dried.

In my experience, daffodils are unique in being so easy to dry–roses, daylilies, peonies, irises–they all need special handling. The real difficulty of this method nowadays is finding the phone book!

Spring in the Garden

We’ve been having an extraordinarily beautiful spring! Birds are singing and everything is coming up fresh and green. Even this grackle looks gorgeous. Peace to you. Fran

fern with pulmonaria
celandine poppy
bleeding heart
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