When my husband and I got married six years ago, we both enjoyed good food, but we had very different ways of eating on a daily basis. I grew up in the home of an excellent cook and a meat and potatoes and vegetable man, but throughout college I didn't do much cooking or much meat eating. I was pretty poor (and busy) in school, and I ate very simply - beans and nuts, cheaper in-season fruits and vegetables. Any extra money I had I chose to spend on coffee, alcohol, and cigarettes (Don't judge. I also ran three at least miles day. Now it's been years since I've smoked. Or run.).
The husband, on the other hand, is a really great cook. By the time we started dating he was on his second masters degree, and was past the point of a peanut butter subsistence diet. He had a ridiculously productive garden, he cooked regularly (without using recipes, no less, gasp!), and he would often host elaborate Sunday dinners for large groups of friends, displaying his knowledge of various cuisines. No pressure, newlywed Mary, no pressure. Right.
Now, add into that equation the fact that, because of his father, many of my husband's favorite foods were things I had maybe tried once or twice or never. His father, who is from Cairo and lived awhile in Lebanon, is also an excellent cook, and can make the simplest dish of lentils and macaroni (I kid you not) taste amazing. Amazing. Now we're talking tabouleh, kibbee, lubee, fettoush?! I was beginning to feel like my husband should have married someone else...
But my husband is a smart one, or tricky, I'm not sure... Guess what he did? At first he made all of these dishes and got me hooked. Then he taught me how to make them with him. Then, casually, he started requesting them when he wouldn't be around to help, so I would have to tackle things alone. And guess what? Now, six years later, I can make some damn good fettoush and tabouleh! Need stuffed grape leaves to feed fifty? I'm your girl!
Today I want to share with you a Lenten favorite at our house - hummus. It's a dish that has really crossed over into mainstream cuisine, but many have never made it at home. If you like hummus, and you are buying it pre-made from the store, stop! Its so quick and easy to do at home (and much less expensive, because a bottle of tahini really lasts).
The recipe we use is slightly modified from the book Kibbe 'N' Spice and Everything Nice (this cookbook is great for all, including the completely uninitiated).
15 oz can chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans)
1 clove garlic
juice of two lemons
3 Tablespoons of tahini (sesame seed paste, found at many grocery stores)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup roasted red peppers (in winter I use canned in oil, but they are easy to roast using the broiler)
Dump contents of chickpea can into pot. Place on stovetop and cook at medium-high heat for about 5 minutes (to soften). Drain and reserve liquid. Let beans cool. Place cool beans into blender or food processor, along with garlic (peeled and sliced), lemon juice, tahini (make sure to stir first, as the oil separates out naturally), red peppers, and salt. Add part of the reserved liquid. Blend until smooth, adding more of the liquid gradually to achieve desired consistency. Go slow with this, because its harder to fix "too runny" than to prevent it. If it does get too runny (it happens to the best of us), you can add more garbanzo beans or even some great northern beans.
Drizzle with oil and serve with cut vegetables (carrots, celery, peppers, cucumbers) or pita bread.