Baked Falafel Recipe

baked falafel | pamela salzman

One day I woke up and decided I had to have falafel.  Falafel are deep-fried balls of pulsed chickpeas blended with herbs, onion and garlic.  Sometimes they are made with a combination of broad beans and chickpeas and sometimes that contain a lot of herbs which make them rather green on the inside.  They’re so tasty and a great high-protein, vegetarian food that you can eat in a sandwich or on a salad or dipped into a sauce.  My family and I love falafel and one day I just had such a craving for them.  I wanted the works — pita bread, tahini sauce, lettuce, tomato and pickled radishes.

baked falafel | pamela salzman

But the fact that falafel are deep-fried is a major turn-off to me, especially food that is deep-fried in a restaurant, as opposed to at my house, because restaurants use and re-use the same low-quality oil over and over again.  Deep-fried foods are just a big plate of inflammation, bad for digestion, bad for the heart, bad for the blood, bad for the skin, just B.A.D.  Knowing how awful deep-fried foods are is a little bit of a curse because it’s hard for me to enjoy them, even in moderation.  But I wanted to make real, authentic falafel that I would un-authetically bake.  So naturally I went on Youtube to learn how to make them.  Sure there are plenty of blogs with falafel recipes, but a lot of these recipes are not the real deal.  For the real deal, I watched falafel-making videos from Israel and I learned everything I needed to know and then some!

raw soaked chickpeas

For example, falafel are made with raw, soaked chickpeas, not canned.  The texture is a bit crumbly, not a mashed potato patty.  There are no eggs in falafel.  And after watching a few videos of expert falafel-makers, I really wished I had a meat grinder (which is what most of them use) to process the all the ingredients into the perfect texture.  But my food processor was good enough and the next day (because I let my chickpeas soak 24 hours), we enjoyed very delicious, healthy baked falafel.  And although falafel has a bit of oiliness from frying, I didn’t even notice the absence of oil since I smothered the patties with a delicious tahini sauce.

pulse everything in the food processor

 

pulsed until it resembles couscous

My son, who is known to be a tad picky, devours anywhere from 6-10 falafel at dinner when I make them.  For sure he loves to eat them in pita, especially if the pita is homemade and warm from the oven (I used this Martha Stewart Living recipe with success.)  But he (and we) is just as happy wrapping a few falafel in a big lettuce leaf with some sauce.  Falafel make the perfect Meatless Monday dinner since they contain lots of protein from the chickpeas and the tahini sauce.  You can also make them spicier with an extra pinch of cayenne.  If I know I’m going to have a crazy afternoon, I’ll make the sauce and shape the falafel in the morning and bake them at the end of the day for a really easy dinner.  Add some lettuce and tomatoes for a simple dinner or go the extra mile with pickled vegetables, pita, and some grilled eggplant.

falafel

Even though I am really against deep frying and I had great results baking these, you can certainly “sauté” these falafel in a skillet with some olive oil until golden and crisp on both sides.  It is a much faster way to cook these and they will have a little bit more of an authentic greasiness.  But the baked version does it for me just fine.  I hope you’ll give them a try!

baked falafel | pamela salzman

baked falafel | pamela salzman

 

5.0 from 1 reviews
Baked Falafel Recipe
Author: 
Recipe type: makes 20-24 falafel
 
Ingredients
  • 1 ¾ cup dried chickpeas (do NOT use canned chickpeas)
  • 2 medium cloves garlic
  • 1 cup chopped onion (about 1 small onion)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • pinch cayenne
  • 1 ¾ teaspoons sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 Tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ¾ cup chopped parsley (or mix with chopped cilantro)
  • ¼ cup whole wheat pastry flour or GF flour blend or chickpea flour
  • unrefined cold pressed extra-virgin olive oil for brushing the pan and the falafel


  • Sauce:

  • ½ cup tahini
  • ⅓ cup – ½ cup warm water to achieve right consistency and depending on the bitterness of the tahini
  • 1 medium garlic clove, minced
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt or to taste
  • 1 Tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
Instructions
  1. Put dried chickpeas in a bowl and cover with water by a few inches. Soak 12-24 hours, making sure chickpeas stay completely submerged in water the entire time.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with unbleached parchment paper and grease the paper with olive oil.
  3. Drain the chickpeas, and add to a food processor with garlic, onion, spices, salt and pepper, baking soda, lemon juice, parsley and flour. (Use a meat grinder if you have one.) Pulse the mixture, scraping down the sides as necessary, until it looks like couscous. The mixture will be quite crumbly.
  4. Form the mixture into about 20 balls, 1 ½ inches each. Press down on the tops to flatten them into thick patties. You can add a little extra flour if they are not holding together. Place them on the prepared baking sheet. Brush the tops with oil.
  5. Bake for 15 minutes on each side or until golden. You can fry them in oil, as well (not as healthy.)
  6. Blend all the sauce ingredients in a blender adjusting water to achieve right consistency. You want a thin sauce.
  7. Serve falafel with tahini sauce in a pita or lettuce leaves. Chopped tomato and cucumber salad is a nice accompaniment.

 

Roasted Vegetable Buddha Bowl with Lemon-Tahini Dressing Recipe

Roasted Vegetable Buddha Bowl with Lemon Tahini Dressing | Pamela Salzman

We all have those recipes we love but don’t make very often (for me it’s chicken pot pie and spanakopita.)  And then there are the recipes you rely on when you don’t want to think about what to make.  Those are your go-to, no-fail, everyone-loves-this recipes.  I wish I had an endless supply of those.  But I am going to share one of my-go’s with you today!  This roasted veggie buddha bowl is just that.  I swear I could eat this every day.  I taught this recipe in my classes in January and I actually did eat it every day and I never got tired of it.

Vegetables reading for roasting

A Buddha bowl is really just a simple combination of (usually) lightly steamed vegetables on top of a gluten-free grain, like brown rice, and often topped with a sauce or dressing of sorts.  It is a very clean and healthful meal, but very satisfying.  Personally, I prefer all my meals in a bowl.  I love when all my food gets combined and every bite has a little bit of everything.  It’s Mr. Picky’s worst nightmare.

After you roast your vegetables, add kale and roast some more

A Buddha bowl is flexible.  Clean out of the vegetable crisper and use what you’ve got.  Not in the mood for rice?  Use quinoa or millet.  Soy or peanut-based sauces are very popular on Buddha bowls, but I am kind of obsessed with my lemon-tahini dressing from this salad, so I adapted that for this recipe.  And even though I said a Buddha bowl is usually made with steamed vegetables, who says you can’t roast them?  Like with a little coconut oil until the edges are just a bit crispy.  Heaven!

Perfectly roasted veggies and crispy kale

I make dinner for my family every night (and if you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you would know exactly what that looks like!)  Even though I am a big proponent of one meal for all, there always those days I ate a late lunch after a class and I’m not feeling like the roast chicken and potatoes I am making for dinner that night.  This Buddha bowl is my go-to on nights like that.  I’ll make a big pan of roasted veggies for all of us and then whip up this dressing and a pot of steamed quinoa and voila!  I have something a little lighter and I’m a happy camper.  That’s not to say that my husband and my kids don’t like Buddha bowls.  They all really do, especially my girls.  As you would imagine, Mr. Picky doesn’t exactly eat his in a bowl.  Rice in one separate, distinct area on a plate, roasted veg in another and hold the dressing, please.  No problem, dude.

lemon-tahini dressing

If you decide to make this dressing for your Buddha bowl, you really have a nice vegetarian meal no matter what grain you use since tahini is basically just sesame paste.  Sesame seeds are high in protein, good fats and did you know, calcium?  Just good to know if you’re looking for non-dairy sources of calcium.  And if you make this with broccoli and kale, you have a very calcium-rich meal.  I also like to sprinkle everything my Buddha bowl with gomasio, a macrobiotic condiment which is just a mixture of sesame seeds and sea salt.  The one I use by Eden Organic also has seaweed in it.  If you have all the other ingredients, but not the gomasio, make this anyway — you will love it and you will feel awesome after eating it.  Have a lovely weekend!

How to assemble your buddha bowl

ready for a bite

so yummy

 

5.0 from 1 reviews
Roasted Vegetable Buddha Bowl with Lemon-Tahini Dressing
Author: 
Serves: 4-6
 
Ingredients
  • Dressing (makes about 2 Tablespoons/serving):
  • 3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice, about 1 small lemon
  • 2 small cloves of garlic, grated or minced or just smash the cloves if you don't actually want to eat the garlic, but still have a subtle garlic flavor
  • ¼ cup raw tahini (roasted tahini is fine, but raw is a little milder)
  • 3-4 Tablespoons room temperature or warm water
  • ¼ cup unrefined, cold-pressed, extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¾ teaspoon sea salt + more to taste
  • pinch of cayenne (optional)
  • 8-10 cups mixed vegetables such as 1 head of broccoli, cut into bite-sized florets and stems, trimmed and chopped AND 1 head cauliflower, cut into bite-sized florets*
  • 2 Tablespoons melted unrefined coconut oil or unrefined olive oil
  • 3-4 large leaves of kale, washed, dried, stems removed
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Steamed brown rice, millet or quinoa for serving (optional)
  • Plain or seaweed gomasio for sprinkling on top (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with unbleached parchment paper.
  2. Make the dressing (or you can make while the vegetables are roasting): in a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, garlic, tahini, water, olive oil, salt and cayenne until well blended. Just use the amount of water you need to get the consistency you want.
  3. In a large bowl, toss the broccoli and cauliflower with the coconut oil. Don’t wash the bowl yet. Place the broccoli and cauliflower in one layer on the prepared baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Roast for about 20-30 minutes, or until tender and golden in spots. I like to turn the vegetables after about 15 minutes.
  4. Take the kale leaves and rub them around the bowl with any remaining coconut oil until lightly coated. Tear until large pieces and sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper. Place on top of the broccoli and cauliflower in the oven and roast until the kale is just crispy, about 5-10 minutes.
  5. If you’d like to eat this as a “bowl,” place a scoop of rice/millet/quinoa in a bowl and top with the vegetables. Spoon some sauce over everything and sprinkle with gomasio, if desired.
Notes
*Other roasted veggies that would be great are beets, carrots, and sweet potatoes!

Supersmooth, Light-as-Air Hummus

Supersmooth, Light-as-Air Hummus by Pamela Salzman

Why is the best hummus always in restaurants, especially Middle Eastern ones?  I think I make a delicious, flavorful hummus that has a great consistency and is better than the ones you find in the supermarket.  But, it doesn’t compare to the silky, light and creamy hummus that I’ve had in restaurants.  I want that kind.  The kind that will drip, not plop, off your pita if you’re not careful.  The kind you can suck up with a straw.  You know what I mean.

cook the soaked, drained chickpeas with a little baking soda before boiling

skim off the skins

I got into bed with a book the other night, because reading helps me wind down and relax from my typically crazy day.  But of course, I read cookbooks in bed before I go to sleep which is an absolutely terrible idea because that does nothing to quiet my overactive brain which doesn’t stop thinking, thinking, thinking!  Regardless, I was reading Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi’s not-so-new, but gorgeous book , “Jerusalem.”  So many recipes, so little time, people.  I turned to their recipe for “Basic Hummus” and I swear I almost flipped the page without so much as a glance, because like I said, I already have a perfectly great hummus recipe which I have actually turned into four different flavors.  But then I thought “have some respect, you never know.”

drain the chickpeas and process to a chunky paste

love this raw tahini

The word “supersmooth” caught my attention immediately and then I knew I found it — the hummus of my dreams.  Let me jump to the chase.  The Ottolenghi hummus is the kind I love at restaurants and they tell me all their secrets.  Most importantly, the chickpea skins are removed after cooking and before pureeing.  I know!!!  Why didn’t I think of that?  But before you think I have the kind of time to sit around peeling chickpea skins, think again.  After soaking and draining the chickpeas, they are cooked with a little baking soda and then water is added to boil the beans.  Most of the skins float to the top of the pot and you just skim them away.  I know!!!  Brilliant.  They also add a lot more tahini (sesame paste) than I do which makes the hummus so creamy.  And water.  I would never have thought to add water, but it really makes the hummus lighter and cleaner than adding the chickpea liquid which is how I do it.  “Better late than never,” is what I was thinking.

Supersmooth, Light-as-Air Hummus by Pamela Salzman

Supersmooth, Light-as-Air Hummus by Pamela Salzman

I wouldn’t say that my first attempt came out quite as smooth as Ottolenghi’s primarily because not all the chickpeas lost their skins and I was not about to go peeling them, but it was really, really good and very smooth.  You can see the image of that below.  I also tasted the hummus after adding 2/3 cup of tahini instead of the recommended 1 cup + 2 Tbs. and I thought it was divine.  I made it a second time and did take the time to pull off any skins that didn’t come off during the boiling process and the hummus was a tad bit creamier, but I’m not sure it was worth the extra 12 minutes it took me to do that.  You should do whatever makes sense to you and if you have the time, feel free to pick out every last skin.  For that matter, you can buy canned cooked chickpeas and pull off the skins and proceed from there.

This is the one I made first where I did not remove every single last chickpea skin.
This is the one I made first where I did not remove every single last chickpea skin.

I served this to friends the other night, friends who have had my hummus a million times and they all said “where did you get this?  This is so good.”  I know, a tad insulting since the implication was that I could not have made it, but I was totally fine with that.  Since then, we’ve enjoyed this immensely with pita bread and raw veggies (wow, I could actually hear you yawn through the computer), slathered on a baguette with grilled veggies and slow roasted tomatoes (my recommendation), and dolloped on a Greek salad with chicken souvlaki (we had this for dinner the other night — major hit!).  There is an insanely beautiful picture in the book of the hummus topped with whole cooked chickpeas, pine nuts, chopped parsley, cooked lamb and the whole thing drizzled with olive oil.  A-mazing.

Grilled veggies, slow roasted tomatoes and hummus on baguette | pamela salzman

No matter how you make it, hummus is rather nutritious and especially high in protein and fiber.  It’s one of the more healthful spreads and dips, provided you don’t go to crazy on the pita bread or chips.  I have even used it in place of mayonnaise in chicken salad.  I have even eaten it with a spoon.  I have even dreamt about it.  You will too, until you make it!

Supersmooth, Light-as-Air Hummus by Pamela Salzman

jacked up hummus | pamela salzman

4.7 from 10 reviews
Supersmooth, Light-as-Air Hummus
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 1 ¼ cups dried chickpeas (garbanzo beans)*
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 6 ½ cups water
  • 1 cup light tahini paste (Ottolenghi recommends 1 cup + 2 Tablespoons, but I thought anywhere between ⅔ and 1 cup was great)
  • ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 4 medium cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 ½ teaspoons sea salt
  • 6 ½ Tablespoons ice cold water
  • Unrefined olive oil and sweet paprika for finishing, if desired
Instructions
  1. Place the chickpeas in a large bowl and cover with at least 4 inches of cold water. Allow to soak 6-8 hours.
  2. Drain the chickpeas. In a medium saucepan over high heat, add the drained chickpeas and the baking soda. Cook for about 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the water and bring to a boil. Make sure the water covers the chickpeas by at least 2 inches. Reduce heat and simmer, skimming off and foam and any skins that float to the surface. The chickpeas cook faster this way and may only need from 20-40 minutes to become tender, but possibly longer. You know they’re done if you can squish a chickpea in between your thumb and forefinger.
  3. Drain the chickpeas. You will have about 3⅔ cups. Transfer the chickpeas to a food processor fitted with the metal blade and process until you get a stiff paste. With the machine running, add the tahini, lemon juice, garlic, and salt. Lastly, slowly drizzle in the ice water and allow it to mix for about 5 minutes until you get a really smooth and creamy paste. I actually set my timer for 5 minutes and washed the dishes in the meantime.
  4. Transfer to a serving bowl and allow the hummus to rest for at least 30 minutes. If not serving right away, refrigerate until needed. Make sure to remove it from the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before serving. If desired, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with paprika.
Notes
*Or you can use 2 15-ounce cans of cooked chickpeas, drained, and peel the skins manually. Place the peeled chickpeas in the food processor and proceed with Step 3.

Minted Sweet Pea Dip

 

minted pea dip | pamela salzman

In as much as I promote buying and preparing fresh produce, I really have no problem with using frozen sometimes.  Frozen vegetables are supposedly picked at their peak and frozen immediately, allowing less deterioration of nutrients.  I can’t, however, say the same about canned.  Thumbs down on that one.  In general, I tend to use frozen vegetables more in cooked dishes than in raw.  There are quite a few frozen vegetables which are staples in my kitchen including artichoke hearts, edamame, corn, chopped spinach and especially peas.

everything into the food processor and you're done!

Believe me, I adore fresh peas.  If they are picked off the vine and prepared right away, they can be so amazingly tender and sweet.  But if they’ve been sitting around for too long, those sugars become a little starchy.  Plus, they do take a bit of time to remove from the shell, which sadly I don’t have the leisure to do on a busy weeknight.

if you decide to grill bread, brush with a little olive oil first

Peas are a great source of protein and fiber, so I love adding them to pastas, soups, stews and grain-based dishes for a complete protein.  Peas also contain substantial amounts of many other vitamins and minerals, including Vitamins C and K, as well as Folate and Manganese.  I post the contents of my kids’ lunch boxes every Monday on Facebook, so I know many of you saw a lunch Mr. Picky made a month or so ago with frozen peas as the entrée and frozen corn as the side dish. (They defrost by lunchtime!)  That was by far the quickest healthful lunch we’ve packed all year!

grilled bread

Although fresh peas come into season in the Spring, I use frozen the whole year long.  I first taught this delicious dip in a December holiday hors d’oeuvres class, but I made it recently for a dinner and it really sang spring.  This dip is a bit like hummus, the Mediterranean dip made from pureed chickpeas, tahini (sesame paste) and garlic, although not quite as thick and rich.

light and fresh

Instead, this has such a lovely light, fresh flavor from the mint and lemon zest.  It  would be such a nice addition to your Easter festivities, whether you’re doing a brunch, lunch or dinner.  Even if you have your whole menu planned,  I bet you have almost all the ingredients to make this dip today.  Best of all, it can be made in about 5 minutes or less.  Seriously!  You can definitely serve this dip with pita chips or toast points.  But I love it with crudités like carrots or endive leaves or my favorite (and more indulgent), slices of grilled baguette.  If you have some nice Pecorino-Romano cheese, shave a little sliver onto each crostini and you will be in heaven!

a little indulgent on bread, but delicious!

I wish you all a beautiful and joyous Easter.  My husband and I were feeling brave enough to take the three kiddies to Europe again, so we’ll be in London for the next week.  I hope to post some pictures of our adventures on Facebook!  Always interested to hear about your faves and must-sees!

minted pea dip | pamela salzman

Minted Sweet Pea Dip
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 2 cups fresh (already shelled) or frozen green peas, defrosted (original recipe used 3 cups)
  • zest of one lemon
  • 3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 small garlic clove, chopped
  • ¼ cup packed fresh mint leaves
  • 2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1-2 Tablespoons raw tahini
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • Crostini
  • French baguette, cut into ½ inch slices
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese (optional)
Instructions
  1. If using defrosted frozen peas, skip to Step 2. If using fresh peas, fill a large bowl with ice water. Bring a pot of water to a boil, add peas and cook for 2-3 minutes. Plunge them into the ice bath to halt the cooking process. Drain well and pat dry.
  2. Place all the dip ingredients in a food processor and puree. Serve with crostini and/or raw crudités. If you assemble the dip on crostini, you can also shave pecorino or parmesan on top of each hors d’oeuvre or sprinkle grated cheese on top and drizzle a good olive oil over all of them.
Notes
Crostini Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a baking pan with parchment paper.
Brush each side of bread with olive oil and place on pan.
Bake for 15 minutes, turning after 7 or 8 minutes.  Use immediately or store in an airtight container for several days.
Or preheat a grill over medium heat and grill the bread (brushed with a little olive oil) until slightly charred on both sides.  This only takes a couple of minutes.

Wheat Berry Salad with Lemon-Tahini Dressing Recipe

In a perfect world we would all be eating mostly whole foods, that is foods that came into this world a certain way and stayed that way.  Whole, unprocessed, unrefined foods are more recognizable by our bodies and better for our health.  Period.  I also talk a lot about limiting gluten, that pesky inflammatory protein found in wheat and to a lesser extent spelt, barley, rye and farro.  One of the problems with our overconsumption of wheat is that 99.9% of the time (I made up that statistic), it is in a processed form such as bread, pasta, baked goods, flour tortillas, pizza, etc.  And in the US, much of the processed wheat is refined too, which means anything good that was in there has been taken out.  Ugh.  I know all those foods are delicious and I am not telling you to never eat them again (although you would be better off), but it’s important to at least acknowledge how much processed wheat you’re eating and try a limit these foods to every once in a while.

So if you buy bread or pasta labeled “whole wheat,”  they are technically made from whole wheat and not actually whole wheat.  If you wanted to actually eat whole wheat, you would eat these little babies right here.  They are called wheat berries which is where wheat flour comes from.  They are a true whole grain because they’re still intact, as are their B vitamins, fiber, protein, even calcium.  Wheat berries remind me a lot of spelt, farro and even short-grain brown rice, but more chewy which makes them perfect in a salad.  My kids love them!  Truthfully you can use wheat berries in any recipe calling for spelt or farro, none of which, however is gluten free.  GF folks can sub brown rice or quinoa very successfully in this recipe.

In as much as I love wheat berries, though, this salad wouldn’t be as delicious without the creamy lemon-tahini dressing which I have been putting on everything lately.  If you have a jar a tahini in the fridge, it is likely because you used it to make hummus, the delicious and popular Middle Eastern chickpea dip.  Tahini is just ground up sesame seeds, plain and simple with lots of good fats, protein and calcium.  If you like hummus, you’ll love this dressing since it contains almost all the same ingredients.  It’s zingy, creamy and a little different from your standard vinaigrette.  I tend to make it a tad on the spicy side, because I love a little kick, but definitely feel free to leave it out if your family prefers things mild.  I took these photos after my class yesterday, when I made the recipe with some thinly sliced radishes, green onions and torn red leaf lettuce, but really the sky’s the limit here.  I have made this salad with blanched asparagus, radishes and spinach — delish!  I have also used cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, feta and parsley.  There’s a picture at the bottom of the post of one version I did with roasted eggplant, red peppers, red onion and parsley, although it vaguely reminded me of that fabulous Ina Garten roasted vegetable orzo dish that I made waaaaay too many times about 10 years ago.  Still great, but in my opinion the richness of the dressing works best with light, fresh vegetables and greens.

If I didn’t just make this salad A LOT this month, I would definitely be including it in the summer entertaining menu rotation.  For you organized, plan-ahead cooks, the day before or morning of I would cook the wheat berries and allow them to cool, prep the vegetables and make the dressing.  I would not, however, dress the salad until the day of otherwise the wheat berries will just soak up all the dressing.  I used wheat berries from Bob’s Red Mill, but I have also seen them in the bulk section of some natural food markets.  Whatever you make this weekend, have fun and keep it real!

Wheat Berry Salad with Lemon-Tahini Dressing
Author: 
Serves: 6
 
Ingredients
  • 1 ½ cups wheat berries -- I used soft white wheat berries (or 1 cup quinoa cooked with 1 ¾ cups water)
  • Dressing:
  • 3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove, minced or mashed to a paste
  • 2 Tablespoons tahini
  • 4 Tablespoons unrefined cold-pressed, extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¾ teaspoon sea salt
  • dash or two of cayenne pepper ( I use ¼ teaspoon to make it a little spicy)
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Salad: (these are suggestions ~ you can also go with cucumbers, tomatoes, green beans, chickpeas, asparagus, peas)
  • 2-3 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 2-3 radishes, sliced thinly or julienned
  • 2 big handfuls of tender greens (such as spinach, watercress, argula, or red leaf lettuce)
Instructions
  1. Put the wheat berries in a medium saucepan and fill the pan with cold water (as if you were making pasta.) Add a big pinch of salt (kosher is fine.) Bring the water to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook wheat berries until they are tender, about 50-60 minutes. Drain and transfer to a serving bowl to cool slightly.
  2. For the dressing: whisk all ingredients together in a medium bowl and season with salt, cayenne and black pepper to taste. Dip a piece of lettuce in the dressing to taste for seasoning.
  3. Combine green onions, radishes and greens with the wheat berries in the serving bowl. Toss with enough dressing to coat lightly.

Hummus 4 ways

I was talking with my summer intern Hannah about how much I love hummus and how easy it is to make.  I think I have been making my own hummus since before she was born, but the last couple years I have felt hummus boredom so I’ve had a little fun experimenting with different flavors.   Hannah was intrigued since she thought hummus was like puff pastry, which NO ONE makes from scratch.  Well, I knew we had a cooking lesson on our hands!

Hummus is a Middle Eastern dip made from cooked chickpeas (a.k.a. garbanzo beans) pureed with tahini (a paste made from ground up sesame seeds), garlic, lemon juice, and salt.  I add a little liquid from the pot (or can) of cooked chickpeas and some people add olive oil.  Sure you can add cumin or hot sauce, but essentially that’s it.  I maintain that hummus tastes so much better when I make my beans from scratch, although really you can use canned and it will still be fabulous.  But what kind of a cooking lesson would this be if we used chickpeas from a can?  So I started soaking a ton of dried chickpeas that day, cooked them for 90 minutes the next morning and we began our hummus factory.

I had an idea to make several of my favorite flavors just for kicks, so we also roasted a couple beets, a red bell pepper and cut some cilantro from the garden.  After we made our first batch, which was the traditional kind, Hannah looked at me in disbelief.  “That’s it?! ”  Yep.  That’s it.  “If people knew how easy it was to make hummus, they would never buy it!”  I’m so glad that thought was put out there to the universe.

After that, we made hot pink hummus with a roasted beet, which I agreed would be super cute for a (girl) baby shower or a bachelorette party (Hannah’s idea.)  Cilantro hummus turned out a lovely pale green with a fresh herby flavor.  Lastly, my favorite was roasted red pepper hummus to which I added a little smoked paprika and a dash of cayenne.  We tried all the flavors with raw carrot, cucumber and sweet bell pepper slices, as well as some gluten-free chips.  But I also love the red pepper version on veggie burgers and the cilantro one on a turkey sandwich.  The beet hummus is for pure shock value since despite adding a roasted beet, it just picks up a subtle sweetness and really tastes a lot like the traditional.  You can never have enough healthful dips for summer entertaining.  With July 4th around the corner, there’s no better time to add some pizzaz to an old classic!

Traditional Hummus
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 3 cups cooked chickpeas, if canned, drained and rinsed, liquid reserved*
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • ½ cup sesame tahini
  • 4-5 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 6 Tablespoons chickpea liquid
  • 1 teaspoon plus a pinch sea salt
Instructions
  1. Place all the ingredients in a food processor fitted with the steel blade and process until the hummus is smooth. Taste for seasoning and texture.
  2. I like it very smooth and creamy, so I let the food processor run for a few minutes. I also prefer to eat it immediately at room temperature, but if you will be refrigerating it, you can add a little extra chickpea liquid since the hummus will thicken after it has been refrigerated.

 

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Variations:

Beet Hummus: add 1 large roasted and peeled red beet to Traditional Hummus ingredients in food processor.  Blend until thoroughly combined.

 

Cilantro Hummus: add 24 sprigs of cilantro and a few dashes of cayenne pepper to Traditional Hummus ingredients in food processor.  You can use either lemon juice or lime juice.  Blend until thoroughly combined.  Feel free to use more cilantro.

 

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus: add 1-2 teaspoons smoked paprika, a few dashes cayenne pepper and 1 large roasted, peeled and seeded sweet red bell pepper to Traditional Hummus ingredients in food processor.  Reduce lemon juice to 1 Tablespoon and sea salt to ¾ teaspoon.  Blend until thoroughly combined.  Taste to adjust seasonings.