Sunday, January 18, 2009

Snacktime Special: Hummus and Mediterranean Style Cashew-Cucumber Dip

Happy New Year everyone! Things kind of got away from me in December, so even though I actually have been continuing the project, I haven't been super-diligent about updating. But let's just say that I have a little inspiration to be a bit more serious here, because the financial crisis basically ruined any semblance of a fitness routine, and I've put on a little weight. Ok, enough weight that my pants only barely fit. And while I'm aware that some of the recipes in this book are a wee bit heavy on the olive oil (or, egads! margarine) and hence may not be quite the thing for weight loss, I suspect diligent and careful incorporation of vegan cooking (along with a return to the gym, recently begun), can help my clothes feel comfortable again.

But before we get all low-fat up in here, let's have a snack. Maybe two.

First, does anybody not already know how to make hummus? I guess you need a recipe if you're writing the ultimate vegan cookbook, and Terry and Isa tacitly acknowledge this by titling theirs "A Hummus Recipe". There's nothing particularly unusual about it -- chickpeas, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, etc. Throw it all in a blender, and you've got hummus.

A couple additions I made -- a dash of cayenne to give it just a little bite, and a drop or two of soy sauce, which is completely inauthentic but contributes a nice smoky flavor. Also, it makes a lot of sense to cook the chickpeas yourself (which T&I suggest). I hadn't used canned chickpeas for a while, and this hummus, while good enough, had a decidedly metallic tang.

Onward to the next recipe -- Mediterranean Style Cashew-Cucumber Dip (page 66). This purports to be similar to tzatziki sauce, and there's a reminiscence, I guess. In any case, my notes on buying cashews still apply.

You start by peeling and seeding a couple cucumbers, then grating them. Squeeze as much water as you can out of them. Combine half the cucumber with some cashews, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, oregano, salt, and white pepper in a blender, and puree it till smooth (this may require the addition of a bit more lemon juice or olive oil). Scoop it out, and add the other half of the cucumber and some dill.

Then you're ready for a presentation like this.

There's nothing revelatory about these recipes, but they're satisfying, and they make enough that I took them to work with some pita bread for lunch a couple days. The hummus is a no-brainer, obviously, but the cashew-based recipe is a clever concoction. It doesn't taste even a little like yogurt, really, but it's creamy and satisfying on its own.

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