Blushing Hummus bi tahinah

The Arabic word hummusحمّص means chickpeas or garbanzo beans. It’s the main player in the popular Middle Eastern dip of the same name. Add some tahini (sesame butter),  lemon juice, red pepper for a nice blush, and a garlic clove, a bit of olive oil and water, sprinkle in salt and a dash or two of cayenne pepper for a bit of zing, top with a small handful of pine nuts, and you have an easy and tasty dip for a crudite plate or pita bread spread.

I got my beans from a local Middle Eastern market (Indus Foods in Berkeley) for 33 cents; the whole dip cost about $1, much cheaper and fresher than shelling out $4 for the commercial version.

Makes about 1 1/3 cups

1 clove garlic

1/4 fresh  red bell pepper. Roasted red peppers work well also – use one.

1 15-oz can garbanzo beans, drained

¼ cup tahini

¼ cup lemon juice (one medium lemon)

1 tsp extra virgin olive oil, plus 1 Tb to pour on top.

1 Tb water

shake of cayenne to taste

¼ tsp salt, to taste

2-3 Tb toasted pine nuts (pignolias)

1 teaspoon finely chopped cilantro to garnish

Peel garlic and mince in food processor using blade. Add rest of ingredients except pine nuts, and run processor for at least a minute until hummus is smooth. Sprinkle pine nuts on top. If desired, pour a bit of olive oil on top and garnish with cilantro.

Serve with carrot or celery  sticks, cucumber, jicama and red bell pepper spears, pita chips, or wedges of toasted pita bread.

Makes a great sandwich spread on pita or olive bread with cucumber slices.

Barbecued Eggplant with Italian Herbs

Italian herbs

Here’s a variation of my Italian  herbs and eggplant dish that I created as a side dish for a barbecue. It is vegan!



Olive oil spray

7 Italian eggplants (the long, skinny ones)

2 red bell peppers

15 medium mushrooms

1 red onion, quartered then sliced into crescents

14 oz can artichoke hearts

1 sprig rosemary, minced to make 1 tsp.

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 sprig basil, chopped to make 2 Tb

2 Tb fresh oregano, chopped

salt to taste

fresh ground black pepper

¼ tsp red pepper flakes, or to taste

1 Tb olive oil, preferably garlic flavored.

Spray eggplants and red bell peppers with olive oil and gill until they soften and eggplant changes color to brown.

eggplant and peppers on the barbie

When they cool, slice into bite-sized pieces.

While eggplant is cooling, mince garlic and rosemary. Quarter the onion and slice into crescents. Toss with rosemary and garlic, 1 Tb. olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Barbecue in a grilling basket sprayed with olive oil. Slice ends off of the mushroom stems and cut caps into quarters, and chop oregano.

mushrooms and onions cooking in the bbq basket

After 5 minutes, add mushrooms and oregano to onions, and barbecue for about 10 minutes, until the vegetables are cooked. Add to the eggplant and red bell peppers.

Slice artichoke hearts in quarters and chop basil. Toss with the barbecued vegetables. Add 1 tsp. olive oil, salt, and black and red pepper to taste.