My introduction to hummus was made by April, a best friend of Lebanese descent of the past 38 years.
Growing up in the 1960s, she watched all her aunts cook traditional Lebanese foods and learned well from each of them; she makes terrific stuffed grape leaves and kibbee.
Lebanese cuisine is primarily Mediterranean. Besides hummus, other staples are pita bread and rice. Chick peas and yogurt are eaten on almost a daily basis, prepared in different ways.
It was early in our friendship when I first had April’s homemade hummus that she served with a basket of Syrian bread that had been torn into large pieces. (When served in a restaurant, this is often accompanied by red onion and olive oil on the side). I totally enjoyed it and have since made it several times for my boys and my family. It is easy to make in the blender and keeps well in the refrigerator.
Occasionally April would make baba ghanoush, another popular dip made the same as hummus but using eggplant. Baba ghanoush has taken a back seat to hummus, but I cannot understand why; it is delicious and very healthy for you (keep baba ghanoush in mind if you have eggplant growing in your garden this year).
Hummus has always been served primarily as an appetizer or snack. In the last few years it is being used more and more as a substitute for mayonnaise in sandwiches as in the wrap recipes below.
Now that it is summer, when we are more in the sandwich mode, I know you will enjoy these healthy and simple wraps.
Carrots, Greens, & Hummus Wraps
2, 16-ounce cans chickpeas (also called garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
1/2 cup water
Juice of one lemon
5 tablespoons tahini (sesame paste)
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1/4 cup olive oil
8, 8-inch whole wheat tortillas
3 carrots, peeled and shredded (about 2 cups)
Greens of your choice
1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella
In a blender or food processor, puree chickpeas, water, lemon juice, garlic, and tahini. With machine running, add olive oil and continue pureeing until silky smooth, about 45 to 50 seconds.
Keep refrigerated in an airtight container.
For the wraps
On each tortilla, spread 2 tablespoons hummus slightly below the center, keeping the sides clear. Top hummus with 1/4 cup shredded carrots, 1/2 cup torn greens, and 2 tablespoon shredded cheese. Roll the bottom of the tortilla over the ingredients. Fold sides in and finish rolling up tortilla. Slice diagonally. If packing for lunch, wrap in foil or waxed paper.
Grilled Chicken Wrap with Hummus
For 1 wrap:
Half of a grilled, boneless chicken breast (seasoned per your preference)
3 tablespoons hummus
Lettuce leaves, tomato slices, sliced red onion, sliced black olives (all or your choice)
Cut chicken into thin slices. Spread hummus on wrap. Place lettuce, tomato slices and sliced chicken on top of hummus. Roll the wrap and enjoy!
Good to hear from you
Hi Pat: I read your column every week and enjoy it.
Would you kindly send me your recipe for lemon squares? They’re one of my favorites, but I don’t have much luck making them.
Thank you in advance, N. R.
Dear N. R.: I have sent you my recipe for lemon squares and a few tips I have learned when making them. Let me know how they come out for you so that I can share with our readers. Cordially, Pat.
Hi Pat: I know you once mentioned in your column when it is OK to substitute real whipped cream for whipped topping, but I wonder if you would print it again.
Thank you, Agnes
Dear Agnes: I will use real whipped cream in many recipes when I know that the dish will be eaten right away. Real whipped cream becomes watery pretty quickly. One tip that does help to hold up real cream when whipping it is to add a couple tablespoons of dry instant vanilla pudding mix; also try using confectioners sugar instead of granulated sugar for the sweetener.
E-mail me the particular recipe that you want to make so I can be more specific. Cordially, Pat
Dear Pat: I have not written you before, but I had to tell you that when we had a really cool day this past week I made the scallion biscuits that I saw in your column. My husband is crazy about them. I am now being asked by our friends for the recipe which I am passing around.
Thank you, Janice and Bill
Dear Janice and Bill: Thank you for taking the time to let me know — it’s definitely a cook’s best reward!
Patricia Altomare invites feedback. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.