Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Black Bean Hummus

The second annual Native Plant Symposium was held in Camarillo, CA this last weekend. A week before the event, I received an invitation to help Chef, Carrie Clough (see last year's post, Native Addendum), prepare the vegetarian lunch for this event. I love this chef. The NPS is a pro bono event for Chef Carrie, so of course I would help.

I met 4 other volunteers and Chef Carrie in Oxnard at the Robert Frank Intermediate School kitchen early Friday afternoon. Martha Lopez's kitchen I should say. Martha and her kitchen shine. I wasn't aware that our schools had kitchens with convection ovens, stainless steel counters and sinks, organized refrigerators and pantry. No worries of a rodent or a germ surviving in Martha's kitchen. 

There is nothing glamorous about fixing lunch for 200. Those chopping butternut squash got blisters, the 20 onions I chopped made me cry. Peeling cucumbers, carrots, garlic is tedious work. Slicing 2 boxes worth of cherry tomatoes in half takes awhile. I pulled the leaves off about 100 parsley bunches for the tabbouleh. My thumbs have muscles I didn't know I had. And then there was the task of helping Martha get her kitchen back where we found it. I swear she made me re-scrub a pan because there was a spec the size of the period at the end of this sentence of baked-on squash on the tray I had just scrubbed. Somehow she made me happy to do it. Her pride in her kitchen was contagious.

It was worth all the work. Roasting vegetables smell wonderful. 5 women cooking together in a spotless kitchen brings out the stories. And when we were all getting a little cranky and disillusioned, Carrie cut up some pita wedges, toasted them in the oven, gave each a dollop of hummus, topped them with a couple of cherry tomato halves and a sprig of parsley. She passed them 'round. Ah. Perfect. We were re-energized.

That evening inspired today's hummus post. I used black beans instead of chickpeas for my hummus to give it a Mexican flavor. I cooked the beans from scratch yesterday. When cooking beans, hold the salt until AFTER the beans are cooked. Salt toughens the beans and they will never, ever, ever get soft. I know this from personal experience.

Black Bean Hummus
2 cups cooked black beans
3/4 cup tahini
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tsp cumin
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tsp salt
2 cloves diced garlic
garnish with 1.2 cup chopped cilantro

Throw everything except the cilantro into a blender or food processor and mix until blended. Add olive oil and / or lemon juice to achieve a smooth texture. Taste and adjust seasoning. I like the lemon to have a strong presence, so I add a little more. If you'd like to add a little heat to this hummus, add some cayenne pepper or a diced jalapeno pepper.

Refrigerate until serving time. At serving time spoon the hummus into a bowl and top with chopped cilantro.

Serve as an hors d'oeuvre with chopped vegetables, pita wedges, crackers. It's a great filling for sopes. Hummus makes a nice lunch too. Sopes, a salad on the side, a glass of wine, it's a light dinner. Enjoy.

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