Simple Appetizers (Hummus and Baba Ganoush)

These are delicious and relatively quick to make.  Baba ganoush takes a little longer than hummus because you have to roast the eggplant, but you can do that ahead of time.

Hummus

People who tell you they aren’t “hummus people” are people who have only had it out of a package.  Fresh hummus is way more delicious.  This recipe is based very loosely on this one from the Fat Free Vegan blog.

Ingredients

  • 2 cans chickpeas (15-oz size, drained and rinsed)
  • 2-4 cloves garlic (to taste)
  • a generous pinch of salt (at least 1 tsp.)
  • 1/2 c. water
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 2+ T. tahini (sesame paste; check the imported foods aisle of the supermarket)
  • pinches of cumin, cayenne pepper, and paprika
  • sunflower seeds and/or cumin seeds

Methodology

  1. Peel the garlic and throw it into the food processor with the salt.  Whirl it around until well chopped.
  2. Pour in the chickpeas and chop, adding water until it becomes a paste.
  3. Add lemon juice, tahini, and seasonings.  Mix and taste – does it need more of something (more lemon, more tahini, more hot pepper)?
  4. When you’re happy with it, put in in a serving bowl.
  5. Toast the sunflower and/or cumin seeds in a pan over medium heat.  When they’re brown, garnish the hummus with them.

Notes

  • Good with flatbread (pita, or failing that, “sandwich thins,” whatever those are).
  • Nice with some chopped cucumber and tomato.  Or feta cheese, if you are feeling fancy.

Baba Ganoush

Mom used to call this “what eggplant wants to be when it grows up.”  Before I appreciated eggplants, that meant nothing to me.  Now I can see the wisdom.  This is based on this recipe.

Ingredients

  • one large eggplant (about 1.5 lbs)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • the juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 3 T. tahini
  • 2 T. plain yoghurt (I use Dannon)
  • cumin, about 1-2 tsp.
  • cumin seeds and/or sunflower seeds

Methodology

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°.  Wash the eggplant, poke some holes into it, and put it on a baking sheet.  Roast about 45 minutes, until it looks kind of sunken in.
  2. Put the eggplant in the fridge (in a container – it will leak juice) for a couple of hours.
  3. Peel the eggplant.  Put the pieces into the food processor.
  4. Process the eggplant, salt, lemon juice, and garlic.  Add tahini and yoghurt gradually until you like the taste.  Add cumin.  Put in a serving bowl.
  5. Toast cumin/sunflower seeds over medium heat.  Garnish.

Notes

  • Two cloves of garlic made this very garlicky.  A lot of people don’t have a problem with that.  I don’t mind, but if I’d had a ton of time I would have roasted it first.  But I didn’t have that much time.
  • Peeling the eggplant was a bit annoying.  There’s probably an easier way to do that.
  • Roasting the eggplant: I saw suggestions to do this ranging from 375-450° in the recipes I looked at.  So you could probably turn it up higher.  Also, if you have gas burners (I don’t) or time to put it under the broiler, char the outside first (like you’re making roasted bell peppers), then cook it all the way through.

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