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Summer’s hum can be heard beneath the more resonant cries of spring. And it’s only getting louder. Showers of rainfall and cherry blossoms both have readied the soil, and the seeds of summer have started to take root. We are less than two weeks away from the longest day of the year and the accompanying al fresco meals, balmy afternoon ice cream breaks, and wafts of pastry that will fill the air with the promise of the fresh baked berry pies that have always been my signal that the Summer Solstice is upon us.
We are also a mere weekend away from Father’s Day. Pie might suffice is some households, but for Papa Belle, any commemorative meal must start with a gin martini and his all-time favorite appetizer: crudités. I have miles of mealtime summer memories with my father that stretch back to lightening bug-studded picnic fare, brown bag lunches eaten out of the back of our Ford station wagon in amusement park parking lots, and countless BBQ dinners around our family table in Buffalo. But always–whether by picnic basket, plastic baggie or Lazy Susan, there were crudités.
My Mamma was partial to serving sliced bell peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, celery and carrots with B-lo’s expected bleu cheese dressing. Ranch was her other favorite. I dare not question how popular these dips were (or how much I coveted them before learning what lies beyond the Hidden Valley), but certainly, more exciting, healthy and delicious alternatives are served on my table today. Smashed garlic scape pesto, chipotle aioli and avocado green goddess dressing are my go-to party dip staples. But whether I’m catering for hundreds or just making an intimate father-daughter dinner, the one request I get again and again is for my seasonal, homemade hummus.
This season I’m making a batch with a bit of a bite using sautéed young garlic and grated horseradish root. When I find them at the market, I’ve been known to throw in a handful or two of green garbanzo beans as well. A chickpea and tahini puree spiked with these fresh, fiery flavors adds a grassy note that elevates hummus from the humdrum affair it can so often be when purchased in a plastic tub redolent of the chemically taste and processing plant from which it came. Mine is a recipe for hummus with made with your own two hands in under twenty minutes. You may never eat store-bought hummus again!
• 2 cups cooked (or canned) Chickpeas
• 2 handfuls Green Garbanzo Beans (fresh or frozen)
• 4 TB Tahini
• 4 TB Olive Oil (divided)
• 1 bunch Young Garlic
• 1 small Horseradish Root
• 1 Lemon (zest & juice)
• Salt & White Pepper to taste
• Warm Water as needed
• Paprika (optional garnish)
• Sliced, raw or blanched Crudités
Welcome summer and celebrate Daddy’s Day with an easy to whip up bowl of hummus and a platter of crunchy crudités. The standard veggie mix my Mamma uses makes an easy offering, but also consider adding more exotic fare, like watermelon and icicle radish, jicama sticks, blanched asparagus, grape tomatoes, cucumber wheels, snap peas, wax beans, sliced summer squash and zucchini, romanesco, and whole, baby, rainbow carrots and cauliflower.
To make the hummus, you must first sauté your garlic. Slice it thinly from about 1 inch above the bulb and sauté over medium heat in a tablespoon of olive oil with just a pinch of salt. You can reserve or freeze the rest of the garlic stalk for making stock. Once caramelized to a golden brown, add the garlic to the bowl of your food processor or blender, along with 1-2 tablespoons of freshly grated horseradish root and the zest of one lemon; I typically zest both the root and the fruit right above my blender using a microplane. It’s wise to be stingy with the horseradish at first, as you can always add more spice but cannot dial it back once it’s incorporated.
Cover and whizz with a slow, steady stream of the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil until a thick paste forms; if using a food processor, the tiny hole in your lid’s liquid measuring cup is perfect for this task. Once all the olive oil has been incorporated, reserve a few chickpeas to garnish your bowl and add the rest to your blender, along with the beans and tahini; cover and whizz for a solid three minutes more until the dip is light and fluffy. Check for consistency and seasoning and add warm water, lemon juice, salt and white pepper to taste. I like my dip thin enough to dig into easily with a fragile veggie stick, but thick enough to cling to even the slickest surface, like tomato skin. The hummus is ready to serve whenever you are, and can be made in advance so the flavors have time to deepen and develop. Garnish with reserved chickpeas, a sprinkle of sea salt, a dash of paprika and a drizzle of olive oil. You can store it covered in the fridge for up to a week and Eat it Up from Father’s Day all the way through the Summer Solstice.