If you were stranded on a desert island with an unlimited pantry to cook from, and you were told you could only bring ONE cookbook, what would you toss into your life raft? Janice and I were discussing that question the other day and my answer didn’t surprise her: I’d bring Plenty by UK chef, Yotam Ottolenghi. I love this cookbook. It’s filled with vegetable-based recipes like marinated mushrooms with walnut and tahini yogurt, eggplant with buttermilk sauce, and hummus, and I turn to Plenty when I’m craving big, bold flavors that elevate veggies from simple to sensational. (BTW, if I could also bring my iPhone, I’d take our Meal Makeovers recipe app along for the ride!)
The eggplant with buttermilk sauce that’s on the cover of Plenty is topped with pomegranate seeds and seasoned with za’atar (a Middle Eastern spice mix) and lemon thyme. I’m not saying this dish is “everyday food,” but if you’re hosting a dinner party, bring it on!
I’m more than a bit overdue with this blog post. I’ve been meaning to write it since the summer when I visited my husband’s family in London. While Simon and I were in town, “Uncle Dick” made Ottolenghi’s hummus one afternoon, and I got a big kick out of photographing his culinary endeavors. When I returned home, I made the hummus for a going away party my friend Meg hosted for Josh and his college-bound high school buddies.
Here’s Josh (last guy in the back on the left) getting ready for dinner with his best high school friends.
The beauty of hummus—besides the fact it’s made with chickpeas—is that it’s the perfect dipper for crunchy, raw veggies.
Makes 6 Servings
Cooking for a crowd? Bring along Ottolenghi’s hummus. The trick to truly sensational hummus is soaking the dried chickpeas versus using canned. While Janice and I almost always turn to canned for convenience, hydrating the dry beans first results in a creamy, luscious hummus texture. I got well more than six servings from this recipe. This recipe is gluten free and vegan. (Recipe adapted from Plenty.)
1. Soak the chickpeas overnight. Place in a large bowl and cover with double the volume of cold water. Add 1 tablespoon baking soda to the chickpeas and set aside. The next day, drain and rinse.
2. Place the soaked chickpeas and remaining baking soda in a medium saucepan and cover with double their volume of cold water. Bring to a boil, then simmer very gently for 2 to 3 hours, or until totally soft and easy to mush. Add more water during cooking if necessary, to keep them immersed. Drain the chickpeas, retaining the cooking liquid.
3. Transfer the warm chickpeas to a food processor, reserving a few to garnish at the end, and add the tahini, lemon juice, garlic and 1 teaspoon salt. Blitz for a minute or two until totally smooth. Add some of the cooking liquid and blitz again. You want the mixture to be very soft, almost runny, but just holding its shape. Taste and add more salt if you like. Keep warm.
4. To serve, spread the warm hummus in small individual plates. (I served in two bowls w/ lots of veggies.) Drizzle hummus with olive oil and lemon juice. Sprinkle with paprika, and garnish with the reserved chickpeas and parsley.
GIVEAWAY: To show our blog readers some love, we are giving away the cookbook of your dreams. It could be Plenty, No Whine with Dinner (that’s our book!!), Best Lunchbox Ever, The Essential New York Times Cookbook … you name it. Just leave a comment here on the blog and tell us which cookbook—and yes, there are thousands out there—you want to add to your bookshelf (or toss into your life raft). Tell us the name of the cookbook and the author.
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Please be sure to leave us a new comment every time you do something extra, and GOOD LUCK. The giveaway ends on Monday, October 28th at noon, and as always we?ll use Random.org to pick our winner. Good luck!