The yin and yang of food blogging: let’s talk about yin first. Meeting loads of new people who are hugely passionate about food; pushing myself creatively to make better, more interesting, dare I say – more sophisticated – food…and perhaps most exciting, expensing a portion of my grocery bills. The yins are too plentiful to count.
The big fat whopping yang? My dependence on cookbooks took a backseat to this newfound creativity. Over time, my colossal cookbook collection has become an historic relic, more useful now as a work of art than a primary source of comfort and inspiration.
I still love cookbooks. I still collect them and tear into them eagerly as soon as they arrive from Amazon.
But after the initial reading, which from outer space might look more like a minute-long shark attack on an unsuspecting minnow, I put them aside on my worn oak nightstand. And there, they rest, collecting dust, waiting for a better time; a distraction-free moment when I can dedicate my full attention to reading the introduction, earmarking favorite recipes, and jotting down shopping lists.
My “to read” pile now reaches higher than my lampshade.
This time that I can never seem to find? I should probably admit to myself, right here and now, that it ain’t coming any time soon. At least not until my youngest is in middle school and can move herself independently from point A to point B. At which point my oldest will be in high school, and I’ll be up late worrying about boyfriends and missed curfews. Free time is looking bleak for at least another decade.
For now, I sneak 5 minutes here, 10 minutes there, to sit back and relax with a cookbook. It’s not the leisurely page-at-a-time perusal that I lust for, but it’s enough to spark the teensiest bit of inspiration.
Which is how we’ve landed on hummus today.
One of my favorite cookbooks of the past few years is a book by Katie Quinn Davies called “What Katie Ate”. She’s one of the many blogger-turned-cookbook authors, but she stands apart with her homey recipes and vintage styling. And she has a recipe for a white bean spread that’s about as close as I can get to hummus without using tahini.
Don’t get me wrong, I love tahini and could eat it with a spoon from the jar, but I try to keep things sesame-free for Lauren. The poor kid gets an itchy throat every time she sets foot in our neighborhood bagel store. So, sesame-free hummus it is.
The problem is that when you remove the tahini from hummus, it turns out grainy.
Katie has solved the problem by replacing half of the chickpeas with cannellini beans. And I’ve gone one step further – using large butter beans, which are smooth, creamy, and have less pesky skin than smaller beans.
Furthermore, I’ve riffed on Katie’s recipe by multiplying the roasted garlic quotient and adding a few fun garnishes.
I hope that you’ll find some time to enjoy this recipe. It’s perfect as a light snack, a school lunch addition, or an “appy” for a party. (Which, by the way, is exactly where I took this dish – to our New Year’s Eve party so that we could pig out shamelessly on the sledding brownies afterwards).
As for me? I’m off to change into the pile of flesh-toned clothes that my eldest just handed me. Apparently it’s time to dress up like a kangaroo. There are already two black and white pandas and a frog in the house, and none of them seem to care too much about cooking, hummus, or me-with-an-open-laptop. Or cookbooks for that matter, so back to the stack this one goes. So long Katie, and Izy, and Kamran and Zoe. I’ll get to you soon. In a day, or two, or a few weeks, maybe more. But I’ll get there. That’s a promise.
- 1 head of garlic
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1 14 oz can of butterbeans
- 1 14 oz can of chickpeas
- Juice of 1 small lemon
- Sea salt
- Black pepper
- 3 tablespoons pepitas
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- A small bunch of parsley or cilantro leaves
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
- Place the head of garlic on a square of tinfoil, and drizzle it with a tablespoon of olive oil. Season with a little salt, and then wrap the garlic into a bundle.
- Roast the garlic in the oven for 30-40 minutes.
- While the garlic is roasting, prepare the spiced pepitas by warming a small skillet on medium heat, adding a tablespoon of oil, and then toasting the pepitas until fragrant (usually a minute or two). Before they’re done, add the chili powder and toss for 30 more seconds. Season with a touch of salt, and remove from heat. You may also want to transfer them to a different bowl so that the residual heat of the pan doesn’t scorch the seeds.
- In the bowl of a food processor, add 3-4 cloves of garlic (depending on how garlicky you want the hummus), the butterbeans, chickpeas, lemon juice, and salt & pepper. Blend the ingredients for a minute or two, and then slowly add the remaining olive oil (minus one tablespoon which you’ll save for the garnish) to emulsify. When it’s done, you should hear the hummus sloshing around (for lack of a better term) in the bowl of the food processor. If you’d like a creamier hummus, you can always add a few tablespoons of plain yogurt, but I find it to be creamy enough without.
- Season the hummus to taste with salt and pepper, and then scoop the mixture into a bowl, smoothing the top and making a few small indentations. When ready to serve, drizzle the olive oil on top, scatter the spiced pepitas, and tear the herbs over the top.