Saturday, January 31, 2015

Baked Hummus with Mushroom, Pear, & Pumpkin Seeds


Thinking back to my childhood, one of my mother's favorite snacks during the Winter was pear or apple with balsamic vinegar.  Forget peanut butter or caramel - nothing made her happier than a bowl of fresh sliced fruit generously doused with the beautifully rich sweet tartness of balsamic vinegar.  And while I did not have the palate for it when I was younger [cue image of portly youngster with a bowl cut holding his nose], I have most definitely developed it now.

Presently, I love savoring foods and beverages that enliven the tastebuds and make me ever so slightly pucker, using vinegar and citrus juice as the vehicles for heightening and marrying flavors.  Marinated salads, regardless of season, top my list of favorite food.  And lately, with the bounty of mushrooms at the market, I've been particularly fond of balsamic marinated mushrooms.

Do opposites attract?

So bringing home beautiful red D'Anjou pears and local Cremini mushrooms earlier this week, curiosity struck.  If they're both delicious with balsamic vinegar, then wouldn't they be delicious all together?  And thus the inspiration for today's recipe.  If you're thinking that mushroom and pear seem like an odd couple, I will wholeheartedly agree with you:  It does seem like a strange combination.  But as I've learned, strange and unexpected are often where I've discovered the most delicious food experiences, and this is no exception.

Paired with pumpkin seeds and kale and baked together with hummus, this is an awesome, quick and easy appetizer to serve at a potluck or a gathering of friends and family.

Or even a party for watching football (and commercials).




Baked Hummus with Mushroom, Pear, Pumpkin Seeds, & Kale
Gluten-Free & Vegan

Active Prep Time:  5 minutes
Inactive Prep Time:  None
Baking Time:  20-30 minutes
Yield:  4-6 servings

16 oz hummus

1/2 c kale, thinly sliced and roughly chopped
1/4 c pear, diced
2-3 Cremini mushroom, sliced
3 tablespoons red onion, diced
3 tablespoons pumpkin seeds
2 cloves garlic, sliced

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

extra virgin olive oil, to garnish

What you'll need:  Small mixing bowl, spatula, small baking dish

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.  Scoop hummus into baking dish and smooth with spatula.  If using store-bought, the amount called for here is approximately two small containers or one large.  I recommend using a simpler hummus, like traditional or roasted garlic.  Of course, feel free to use homemade (you can find some of my own recipes for inspiration in the Recipe Index).  
3.  Combine the rest of the ingredients in a small bowl.  Toss to coat.
4.  Spoon mixture evenly onto the hummus, drizzling any liquid remaining on top.
5.  Bake for 20-30 minutes.  When ready, the kale will appear dry and crisped and the mushrooms and onions caramelized and browned on the edges.  
6.  Allow to cool slightly, garnish with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, and serve with chips, bread, or fresh sliced fruits and vegetables.

Already delicious as it is.

Before

After

As you may know, I am a sucker for textures - in most cases, the more the merrier.  So this recipe makes me particularly happy, with the convergence of smooth, creamy hummus, crisp kale, sweet, soft pear, onion, garlic, and mushroom, and crunchy pumpkin seeds.  It's funny to me that while I've historically enjoyed warm dips, like layered refried beans and artichoke and spinach, I've never thought to serve hummus warm because it seemed "odd."  But now, after this very successful experiment, allow me to say that my mind is sufficiently changed on several fronts.

Enjoy this recipe, and after doing so, I hope you may be able to say the same for yourself.


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All the Best,
Jonathan

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