Saturday, June 23, 2012

Basil Pesto Hummus

One of my favorite things to eat is hummus.  Served with chips or sliced vegetables, on a bed of fresh salad greens or lightly steamed kale, or my current breakfast of choice: with black beans, sriracha, and egg whites.  Lucky for me, hummus is also one of my favorite things to make.

When I first taught myself to make it about five years ago, I remember thinking, "That's it?  That's all I have to do to make something this delicious?"  And beyond the simplicity of it (you can count the ingredients of basic hummus on one hand), there's also the versatility and endless opportunities to recreate it.  Add sundried tomatoes, roasted peppers, pureed sweet potato, use any nut butter in place of the traditional tahini, substitute other beans for chickpeas, etc.  So many ways to make it special depending on what's in season or what you have in your pantry.
Beautiful, fragrant basil.

Lately, there's been a lot of basil in my kitchen thanks to Johnson's Backyard, a local, organic farm here in Austin.  And when a recent weekend to-do list included both "make pesto" and "make hummus," the thought occurred to me, "Why not make both at the same time?"

The result?  Gloriously good.

Basil Pesto Hummus
Gluten-Free & Vegan

Active Prep Time: 5-10 minutes
Yield:  About 2 cups

4-6 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 c pumpkin seeds/pepitas
1-1 1/2 c roughly torn/chopped basil leaves

(1) 25 oz can garbanzo beans
1/3 c canning liquid reserved from garbanzo beans
5-7 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne (optional)

*If using a blender, results may be best by halving the recipe and making it in two separate batches.

1.  In a food processor, combine minced garlic, pumpkin seeds, and basil.  Pulse until roughly combined and then scrape down the sides with a spatula.
2.  Drain garbanzo beans, reserving 1/3 cup of the canning liquid.  Add garbanzo beans, canning liquid, and lemon juice to food processor.  Pulse to bring together.
3.  Scrape down the sides and then switch to a continuous setting.  Begin to slowly drizzle the olive oil through the food chute.  It is very important to drizzle slowly so as to properly emulsify the oil, giving the hummus its creamy texture.  Continue blending until desired smoothness has been reached.
4.  Taste and then season accordingly with salt and/or cayenne, pulsing to combine.  Flavor will be best the next day after the flavors have come together, so err on the side of less rather than more with this step.  Also keep in mind what you will be serving with the hummus with.  If it is with crackers or chips, you may want less salt, and vice versa if with raw vegetables or greens.

The beginnings of a very basic pesto.

Scrape it down and add the rest of the ingredients.

This is the consistency I like: not chunky but not entirely smooth, either.

Served with local, organic vegetables and drizzled with extra olive oil.

I love how fresh herbs can enhance and enliven our food, not only in terms of flavor, but also nutrition.  And when food tastes good and helps you feel good, too, how can you say no to that?  I certainly wouldn't.  

And chances are, neither will those with whom you choose to share it.

Delicious aftermath of a photo shoot... ;)

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