Hummus

I normally make Hummus with canned chickpeas, but lately I’ve been preferring the dried chickpeas you can find at the Turkish groceries. They feel so nice when you run your fingers through them, and make delightful clink-clink noises as you pour them from one container into another. I’ve found there’s an extra step to making Hummus when you use canned vs dried chickpeas – if you don’t boil the dried chickpeas beforehand, they end up tasting grassy instead of creamy.

Ingredients

  • a 16 oz can of chickpeas or 1 cup of dried chickpeas
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp tahini (or more, to taste)
  • juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 3 tbsp water (usually I reserve some chickpea liquid from the can or from soaking the dried chickpeas)
  • salt to taste
  • optional: sun dried tomatoes, habanero peppers, smoked serrano chili peppers, dried mint, sunflower seeds, pine nuts, or parsley, etc. either as a topping or blended with the chickpeas

Directions

  1. If using the dried chickpeas, make sure you soak them for 4-6 hours in advance. Then, boil them for about an hour. If using the canned chickpeas, skip this step.
  2. Blend all the ingredients into a smooth and fluffy paste. Add more water if it’s too thick.
  3. Serve with a swirl of olive oil on top.
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Chili Oil

This chili oil is glorious. It’s also way spicier than the stuff I’ve encountered at the restaurants and in the grocery stores, so consider yourself warned. Next time, I might consider adding some minced garlic and ginger at the very end (with the crushed red chili).

Yield: around 6 oz

Ingredients

  • 4-5 oz of sunflower oil, or you can use canola oil
  • 1 inch of cinnamon bark
  • 4 star anise
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 tbsp ground Szechuan peppercorns
  • 5 cloves
  • 1/3 cup of crushed red chili

Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan except for the crushed red chili.
  2. Over medium-low heat, simmer this for 30 minutes.
  3. Pour the crushed red chili into a heat safe glass container – I used a clean mason jar.
  4. While holding a metal sieve over the mason jar, slowly pour the hot oil over the red chilis. We just want to remove the chunkier spices (e.g. cinnamon stick) from the final product.
  5. Wait until this cools (!) and then go buck wild, drizzling this over whatever your heart desires.

Basil Pesto

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of packed fresh basil leaves
    • You can get a 4 oz box of basil from Trader Joe’s for about $2.50. I used this whole box. Or, if there is an asian grocery nearby, you can get a ton of basil on the cheap there.
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1/3 cup of pine nuts
  • 2/3 cup of EVOO (the better the quality of EVOO, the better this will taste!)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

  1. Blend the basil, garlic and pine nuts in a blender or food processor.
  2. Add 1/2 cup of the EVOO and blend until the mixture is smooth.
  3. Add the cheese and remaining oil. Blend again.
  4. Adjust with salt and pepper, as needed.

Best Vinaigrette

Salads are a great way to diversify the range of vegetables you eat (besides being low fat and stuff). Keep it healthy by ditching the creamy ranch dressing and use this vinaigrette instead.

Makes ~4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 minced shallot
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • optional: 1-2 tbsp of your favorite chopped herbs (I love dill!)
  • fresh arugula/lettuce/general purpose vegetables

Directions:
Combine everything (minus the salad part) in a jar. Shake it up. Toss with your vegetables!