Soaring summer temperatures mean I want to stay out of a hot kitchen as much as I can. Here’s an easy vegetarian summer lunch that brings a taste of the Middle East right to your table. Growing up in Turkey, my kids never got used to eating sandwiches. For us, hummus is a great rescue lunch for busy days using simple ingredients from the pantry. We serve it with toasted pita bread wedges, cucumbers, carrots, and celery sticks for dipping. It also makes delicious lettuce wraps. Finish it off with vanilla yogurt for desert, and you have an easy, nutritious summer meal.
Here’s a confession: I can’t just follow a recipe when I cook. At my house, a recipe provides a starting point to a creative pursuit which changes according to your mood at the moment. This means that no dish ever tastes the same even if I make it over and over. Hummus is an easy recipe that you can vary according to your taste. This is how I made it last:
2 16 oz. cans of chick peas, drained (Reserve ½ cup of the liquid.)
1 large clove garlic
2-3 TBSP lemon juice (Start with 2, and add more if you like things lemony.)
3 TBSP olive oil
¼ cup tahini***
½ tsp paprika
½ tsp cumin
½ tsp salt (or to taste)
Chopped flat leaf parsley for garnish
Drop the clove of raw garlic into a blender or food processor. When it is chopped, add the remaining ingredients, including the ½ cup of liquid from the canned chick peas. Blend until smooth. Spoon the hummus into a shallow bowl. Sprinkle it with paprika and chopped flat leaf parsley. Drizzle with olive oil if desired before serving. (Serve it up straight with no garnish on the chaos days.)
*** I know this would make any purist cringe, but if you can’t find tahini, which is ground sesame seed paste, you can use peanut butter instead. Just reduce the amount to 3 TBSP. The taste is different, but hummus with peanut butter is a lot better than no hummus at all!
You can increase the cumin and paprika to 1 tsp. each for more spice. If raw garlic has too much bite for you, use roasted garlic instead. I add 2 TBSP red pepper paste, one of the greatest culinary blessings Turkey has to offer, but you can add tomato paste instead for extra taste and a bit of color.
What about you? What’s your favorite rescue lunch for busy days? I’d love some new suggestions.