I thought it would be fun to start a series sharing recipes for products generally sold in packages. I made this beet hummus recently and packed it in one of my daughter’s snacks. She came home and told me that a teacher had seen her eating it and asked for the recipe. Apparently she used to love Trader Joe’s beet hummus, but they have discontinued it. Google told me that this product enjoyed a sort of cult following, and was packed in a small plastic tub. So I sent the teacher some of mine in a mason jar, along with the recipe, which she really enjoyed. It got me thinking about packaged foods. Sometimes we buy them out of convenience, and sometimes we buy them because they taste amazing, or because it seems difficult to make.
Unfortunately, packaged foods create literal tons of waste. Sometimes packaging is recyclable, but less than 14% of packaging actually IS recycled. Most of it goes straight into landfill or is littered, eventually ending up in the ocean. Single use plastic packaging is responsible for am estimated 269,000 TONS of plastic pollution currently floating around in our beautiful oceans. Even if it does get recycled, plastic can (usually) only be recycled once before it’s waste. Glass and metal can be recycled indefinitely. With this in mind, I’d like to offer some alternatives to popular packaged foods in this series. First up, hummus.
Hummus is super easy and cheap to make. It’s full of fiber and protein and goes great on sandwiches, salads, veggies, and more. Many years ago, I would buy it at the grocery store in a small plastic tub. I started making my own with canned chickpeas after reading about it in a book and I couldn’t believe how much better it tasted! A few years later, I became obsessed with Yoham Ottolenghi and his beautiful vegetable centric dishes. I tried his recipe for hummus, which uses chickpeas cooked from scratch, and I almost died. Fluffy, creamy, pillowy clouds of garlicky, lemony hummus. I’ve never looked back since then. It does take some more work than opening a can, so if you’re strapped for time, you can definitely sub canned. But I highly reccomend that you set aside some time to try this recipe at least once so your wildest hummus dreams can be realized.
basic hummus (recipe adapted slightly from this recipe)
1.25 cups dried chickpeas (or sub 2 cans and skip the cooking with baking soda step)
1 teaspoon baking soda
6.5 cups water
.75 cup light roast tahini- use a runny one that isn’t super dark or bitter
4 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
4 cloves garlic, crushed
6.5 tablespoons cold ice water
1.5 teaspoons salt
optional toppings: olive oil, pine nuts, pomegranate seeds, minced parsley or cilantro, chili flakes, flaky sea salt, smokes paprika, za’atar spice or harissa, really whatever you like
The night before, put the chickpeas in a large bowl and cover them with cold water at least twice their volume. Leave to soak overnight. The next day, drain the chickpeas. Place a medium saucepan over high heat and add the drained chickpeas and baking soda. Cook for about three minutes, stirring constantly. Add the water and bring to a boil. Cook, skimming off any foam and any skins that float to the surface. The chickpeas will need to cook for 20 to 40 minutes, depending on the type and freshness, sometimes even longer. Once done, they should be very tender, breaking up easily when pressed between your thumb and finger, almost but not quite mushy. Drain the chickpeas. You should have roughly 3 2/3 cups now. Reserve a few tablespoons of whole chickpeas for garnishing.
Place the chickpeas in a food processor and process until you get a stiff paste. Then, with the machine still running, add the tahini, lemon juice, garlic, and salt. Finally, slowly drizzle in the ice water and allow it to mix for about five minutes, until you get a very smooth and creamy paste. Transfer the hummus to a bowl, cover, and let it rest for at least 30 minutes.
If not using straightaway, refrigerate until needed. Make sure to take it out of the fridge at least 30 minutes before serving. To serve, top with a layer of good quality olive oil, toasted pine nuts, herbs, and reserved chickpeas. Sprinkle some flaky sea salt to finish. This hummus will keep in the refrigerator for four days.
beet variation shown above:
Right after you add the ice water, add in a few chunks of steamed beet to the processor while it runs. Add in as much or as little as you like to get a lighter or deeper color and flavor. In the picture, I’ve used about 1/2 a smaller beet. I’ve heard that TJ’s used beet juice in addition to steamed beet in order to obtain a very beety taste/color- so if that’s what you are after, you could try that. You could also try icing the beet water leftover from steaming in place of the ice water.
I’ve served it here with garlic flatbread (I omitted the rosemary and subbed some cardamom) that I cut into slices, brushed lightly with olive oil and sprinkled with s+p. Bake in 400 degree oven till crisp, about 15 minutes or more.
I hope you enjoy! If there’s a product you’d like me to attempt to re-create package free, let me know in the comments or on my Instagram @mamaeatsplants !