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melancholy, and sweet potato hummus

March 13th, 2012 | 7 Comments »

There’s something going around in my life lately, that’s been apparent in this space. And that’s nothing. Nothing at all. I’ve had some posts here and there (five total in February, which is not much at all) and yet they’ve all felt like I’ve dragged them kicking and screaming from my brain. Nothing has landed in me, a late winter melancholia, a heavy weight that’s latched itself around my neck, like I’m just hauling around with no real purpose. My dear friend Angharad, who writes in this lovely space, put it so succinctly in this post that I feel like she reached right inside me, flipping on a light and said, in her delightful lilting English accent “Oh, there you are, you beastly thoughts. Get OUT of there!”

And it’s just this time of year, this wrinkle between the winter that never really was and a Spring that is still so so far away. Without snow coverage on the landscape, it’s been this flat and dull brown for the last six months and it makes my eyes, and my heart ache to look at it. The lack of color punches me in the ribs and knocks the wind out of me, because there is just nothing there, and it’s this nothing that’s dropped like a stone in to my life. I missed my snow, the squeak of my boots, the crystalline cold that penetrates you and takes your breath away, and I missed my cross country skis. And in this space that is neither one season or the other, I’m bored with the foods and the tastes and the textures of a Winter that never came. I’ve been repeating recipes, sticking with simple meals and just coasting. Coasting through the nothing, and waiting, patient, and with eyes on the sky for the breath of Spring to come and lift this nothing away.

And in the meantime, I’m eating sweet potato hummus, coveting every bite because it’s this incredible thing I’ve found and although there are people out there talking about it, it still feels like a secret that maybe you want to keep, but you know it’s worth spreading around. Because, as hummus goes, this one is the bees knees to this hummus loving girl. While I could sit down with a full food processor bowl of freshly made hummus and scoop to my heart’s content, the addition of a soft and fragrant roasted sweet potato turns this humble condiment into something really kind of extraordinary, like that first real Spring day when you wake up and remember that there really is a definitive end to Winter.

And there’s really nothing to it, this Sweet Potato Hummus. One nice sized sweet potato, roasted almost to a point of collapse until it’s juicy and delectably sweet gets mixed in to any standard Hummus recipe, whizzed together in your food processor or high-speed blender and then, best of all, eaten in any manner you would consume this easy snack. Roasting the sweet potato gives it such an incredibly deep flavor, especially if you use the dark orange skinned variety like Red Jewel or Garnet (the ones most people refer to as Yams, even though they aren’t true Yams at all). The darker orange flesh contains more moisture, as well as a higher level of antioxidants. Eat your colors, remember? Sweet potatoes are just brimming with vitamins and minerals, are very low on the Glycemic Index and contain a high level of anti-inflammatory properties. Add in a good source of fiber, without saturated fat or cholesterol and this nutritional workhorse has far more going for it than just good taste or a pretty face. Maybe the consumption of this, chock full of good ingredients, might be the crane that lifts me from this nothing I’ve been experiencing, in to the something that I’m craving, mind and heart, right now.

Another good thing? You can bake off an entire sheet pan of sweet potatoes, slip them from their skins when they’re cool and freeze them in plastic bags to have on hand for any manner of baking or cooking. I’ve had sweet potatoes in the freezer for more than six months (due to getting buried) and the texture hasn’t shown much change at all, other than maybe a bit more watery.

But back to that Hummus. Or better yet, I’ll stop my endless blathering so you can skip in to your own kitchen and make this for yourself. Because there’s some left in my fridge, and I’m off to cut up a few carrots, dip a few crackers and work on stoking my creation fire that I know is still in my brain. Eventually this nothing will lift; it does every year. I hope the grocer has enough sweet potatoes in stock.


Easy Sweet Potato Hummus

1 15-oz can chickpeas, rinsed
1/3 c. tahini
1/4 c. fresh squeezed lemon juice
3 T. olive oil
1-2 t. kosher salt
1 medium roasted sweet potato, cooled and skinned
1/4 c. water (or more, depending on how creamy you like your hummus)

In the work bowl of a food processor, or in a high speed blender, add all the ingredients and process, adding water if necessary, until the consistency you like. Serve immediately, or chill overnight.



Elsewhere on the blog, regarding Sweet Potatoes:

Sweet Potato Biscuits

Oatmeal Sweet Potato Muffins

Whole Wheat Muffins with Squash and Quinoa

Curried Sweet Potato and Corn Risotto

A word about chickpeas

December 17th, 2008 | 8 Comments »

I’ve often been wary of chickpeas.


The very name sends images into my head of a certain something that I never consider to be a food, and for some reason, I expect a particular texture from them- something certainly un-legume like- and as a result, have been overly cautious about putting them, whole, into my meals.

But I’m more than willing to eat them after they’ve been ground to a pulp. I adore Hummus, and we are pretty regular consumers of the chickpea/tahini spread, usually adorned with kalamata olives and tangy with plenty of lemon juice and good zest.

This past summer I took a tentative foray into the world of whole chickpeas, or garbanzo beans as they are also called, and made a wonderful grilled eggplant and garbanzo bean salad that earned rave reviews and for me at least, a lot more respect to the round little legume I’ve been avoiding. The texture that had held me back was unsurprising- it was a legume and it tasted like a legume- primarily, it tasted like whatever I had added to my dish to create a flavor base. That’s the beauty of legumes, the empty palette of them, one of the many tabula rasas of the food world; alone they don’t taste like much but add them to a robust recipe that smacks of flavor and they become something else all together.

So back to Hummus. As I said, we love the stuff, and when I made it I always used canned chickpeas for ease and we were perfectly fine with it. Really, really fine with it, in fact we held more concern for the state and freshness of the pita bread we enjoyed as a means of transfer for the spread, often traveling across town to the Middle Eastern deli to buy bags of it that were fragrant with thick rounds, and often still warm or sweating from the days baking. We take our bread seriously in this house, no matter what form it comes in.

But then, I started noticing in my food magazines that recipes for Hummus were appearing regularly, and extolling the virtues of cooking garbanzo beans from scratch for the ultimate flavor. I was intrigued, but it took me a while to get my act together and really do it, and wow, do I wish I had taken this one on quicker. Fresh cooked chickpeas taste nothing like the canned that I have previously used. (Insert a great big ‘Duh’ right about now- it’s OK, I don’t mind)  The Hummus that resides in my fridge right now has the nicest, freshest, most garbanzo bean-y flavor I have known; nothing has even remotely come close, not the containers I’ve tried, not the batches I’ve whirred up at home. Nothing. I’m hooked on the good stuff and ain’t looking back.  And the most important aspect of it is that cost-wise, making anything from dried beans is really inexpensive.


I cooked the garbanzos in the crockpot over the course of a lazy snowy Sunday afternoon. They took longer than I anticipated, and once finished, I simply drained and rinsed them-or tried to anyway- as the one thing about garbanzo beans I have a wee bit of trouble with finally reared it’s ugly head- the skins. Gads. I don’t know what it is about them but I became obsessed with removing the offensive looking milky little things and just try to do that to a pound of recently cooked chickpeas! It’s an act of futility, but I charged forward and did my darndest. It might be slightly easier if I just didn’t look at them, touch them, think about them or even start the process next time. They can’t possibly be all that bad, can they?

Ugh, now I can totally feel them clinging to my fingers and feel like I need to wash my hands. Rant over!

jump for the rest……

Come in to my kitchen…


September 1st, 2006 | 3 Comments »


Combine the following in food processor: 1 14-oz can garbanzo beans (i drain and rinse, you decide about that one), 1/3 c. tahini, 1/4 c. lemon juice, 1 T. oilive oil, 2 t. minced garlic, 1 t. salt, and 1/4 c. water for smoothness (this is optional but it seems to even it out well- you will need less water if you don’t rinse the beans)

Whirl together until well blended, scraping sides and stirring from the bottom as needed. Keep in fridge, eat with pita bread, crackers or veggies. Resist standing at the counter and eating it with a spoon.

I often add about 1/2 c. chopped kalamata olives to ours because we love the flavor. I have also used roasted red peppers which makes it sweeter. Don’t skimp on tahini, it gives it the authenticity you want and if you can find organic tahini, buy it. The flavor is way better.