Thursday, December 12, 2013

Mung Bean Hummus with Za'atar

I've made (and eaten) ALOT of hummus in my day.  This wonderful chickpea based dip is one of the first foods I started incorporating into my diet when I started experimenting with vegetarianism in my teens.  Finding hummus in the grocery store fifteen years ago was almost unheard of, you had to venture to a health food store and even then the choices were very limited. So, from a young age I started making my own and began to prefer the taste and texture of homemade versus store bought even when I had the opportunity to get my hands on the stuff.

I basically lived off of the stuff in college (you know... that and cheap beer), using it as a dip for crackers or vegetables or smearing on a bagel piled with vegetables for a lunch that could be thrown together in the matter of minutes.  The less time I had to spend cooking or thinking about meals, the more time I had for studying... and drinking.

After seven years of eating hummus day after day I began to tire of it...shocking, I know.  I decided to take a break from what is thought of as "traditional hummus" consisting of chickpeas, lemon, garlic, sesame tahini, salt, and maybe some cumin or cayenne.  I thought, why not add some fresh herbs, or roasted garlic, maybe some kalamata olives. Or... instead of chickpeas, use cannellini or black beans. 
For several years in my twenties, I worked in a vegetarian restaurant where I made a different flavor of hummus each day of the week, so I made more variations of this bean based dip/spread that you could ever imagine.

It wasn't until recently that I came upon this recipe for mung bean hummus and my mind was blown.. why the heck didn't I ever think of that??  Mung beans have been used for thousands of years in both sweet and savory dishes, originating in India then cultivated all throughout Asia.  They were used medicinally, dispelling heat from the body and aiding in detoxification.  They are one of the main staples of an Ayurvedic diet, helping to bring balance to the body by improving digestion and enhancing overall health and vitality.  Today, mung beans are consumed for their amazing health benefits, helping to lower cholesterol, control diabetes and help protect against breast cancer.  Like most other legumes, mung beans are also high in fiber and low in fat.

Combining these beans with lemon helps to boost your vitamin C intake, sesame tahini gives your body a dairy free calcium boost and the garlic will help boost your body's immune system... not too bad for a snack food!

Mung Bean Hummus (makes 2 c.)
From 101 Cookbooks

1 1/2 c. cooked mung beans
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 c. sesame tahini paste
1 large clove garlic, peeled & smashed
1/2 t. sea salt
1/3-1/2 c. water

Za'atar spice and extra virgin olive oil for drizzling on top

Pita chips for serving*

Start by adding the mung beans to a food processor and pulse until a fine, fluffy crumb develops, at least a minute. Scrape the bean paste from the corners once or twice, then add the lemon juice, tahini, garlic, and sea salt. Blend again, another minute or so. Don't skimp on the blending time, but stop if the beans form a dough ball inside the processor. At this point start adding the water a splash at a time. Blend until the hummus is smooth, light and creamy. Taste, and adjust to your liking - adding more lemon juice or salt, if needed. Top with a sprinkling of za'atar and a healthy swirl of extra virgin olive oil.  Serve with homemade pita chips.

* To make the pita chips, cut a couple rounds of pita breads into squares or triangles. Toss with a glug of olive oil and a sprinkling of sea salt and arrange in a single layer on a large sheetpan.  Bake at 350 until light browned and crispy (about 8 minutes each side), flipping them over halfway through.

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