Happy first day of June! It’s hard to believe that summer is just around the corner, slow down 2015!
Summer, the season of sweltering Milanese heat waves, gelato, picnics in the park, lunches on the beach and barefeet in the sand. It’s also the season of pasta and grain salads, snack bars and spreads I can transport in a container as a veggie, cracker and chip dip or use as a sandwich spread for picnics and beach lunches.
Speaking of spreads, last year shortly after I launched the blog, I posted a classic traditional hummus bi tahini recipe along with a rant about the misuse of the word hummus by food bloggers, chefs, food writers and the world at large. Being of Lebanese origin, hummus is somewhat of a sacred dish for me, sort of in the same way that pasta al pomodoro or pizza is to an Italian, so it makes me shake my head when I see things like whipped avocado and white bean hummus in the same way that an Italian might gasp at the interpretation of pizza at your typical pizza delivery spot in North America.
All of that said, I’m flexible and willing to accept the use of the word hummus, even if the recipe isn’t traditional, as long as there are chickpeas in the spread. After all, in the Arabic language, the word hummus is used for chickpeas or garbanzo beans, so a spread without this humble legume, as delicious as it may be, is certainly not hummus now is it.
This recipe was born one Friday midday when I came home for lunch unexpectedly and time was of the essence. I whipped this up using some of the contents of my refrigerator/pantry. It certainly is not traditional or classic hummus bi tahini, in any way, but the spread has chickpeas in it, so I will allow myself to call it Sundried Tomato & Black Olive Hummus.
It’s bursting with flavour from the sundried tomatoes, kalamata olives and fresh herbs and it’s completely oil free, I didn’t even use tahini or salt for that matter, since the sundried tomatoes and olives were salty enough. The sundried tomatoes are soaked until softened and some of the soaking water is added into the spread to help blend it to a smooth consistency and add back in any of the nutrients lost in the water.
I’ve talked about chickpeas at length in other posts so today I want to take a minute to talk about sundried tomatoes.
As you may have guessed, sundried tomatoes are traditionally made by covering fresh tomatoes in salt and drying them in the sun. While not all sundried tomatoes are dried in the sun these days, with the advent of large commercial dehydrators, it’s still possible to find the sun-dried sulfite free variety if you look for them. You can find them truly dry or packed in oil and I generally prefer to buy the former.
Since tomatoes start to deteriorate relatively quickly after picking, sun drying them is a great way to preserve their nutrients. They are an excellent source of dietary fiber, protein, vitamin C, K and complex B vitamins as well as important minerals like iron, potassium, manganese, and magnesium. Sundried tomatoes are also relatively high in sodium, so it’s best not to over do it or to refrain from adding salt to a dish if using them. They offer antioxidant protection against free radicals that damage cells, and support heart health. The lycopene content in tomatoes has been linked to a lower risk of prostate cancer in men.
According to a 2007 study published in the “Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture,” sun-dried tomatoes contain approximately 20 percent more bioavailable lycopene than raw tomatoes*.
Sundried Tomato & Black Olive Hummus
Recipe & Photography by Nissrine @ Harmony à la Carte
This non traditional take on hummus is oil and tahini free and blended with sundried tomatoes, black kalamata olives and fresh herbs for a protein packed spread with all the flavours of the Mediterranean.
-1 C Chickpeas, cooked
-4 Sundried Tomatoes, not packed in oil (about 1/4 C when diced), soaked in boiled water for 10 minutes until softened
-Handful of fresh herbs (basil, mint, thyme are all good)
-14-16 Large Black Kalamata Olives, pitted
-Reserved sundried tomato water, as needed
1. Soak sundried tomatoes in boiled water for about 10 minutes until softened, strain and reserve the water, then dice into small pieces.
2. Add all ingredients to a food processor and puree on high speed, adding the reserved soaking water from the sundried tomatoes as needed to get the desired consistency.
Serve with corn chips, toasted pita/tortilla/piadina, raw veggies, or use as a sandwich spread.
*Suzanne Allen, sfgate.com