December always starts with me being sort of depressed that December is starting. December’s beginning means that the year’s end is imminent. And 2013′s end kinda gives me a panic attack because I can remember its start so vividly.
Not to worry! if you too, are in a lil’ panic mode, this month is full of appetizers and cookies and cakes and cinnamon rolls. All will soothe your pain. I have lots of cookies on my brain and cakes. All I want to make right now are cakes. I figured we’ve all eaten enough this weekend so best to start off with something light.
I was in The Bay Area for way too short of a trip but I did squeeze in a trip to the city to gather some ingredients. I had lunch at Boulette Larder’s (remember when I went last year?) newly opened restaurant, Boulie Bar. Dude. Maybe the most beautiful lunch I’ve ever had. Ugh. Everything was so edible and perfect. It’s food I want to eat every day for the rest of my life. It’s not fussy, dramatic or overly complicated. We ordered a few things but the one thing I wanted to order the most we didn’t get…the Winter Squash Hummus.
I always end up making things I never ended up ordering. I know it’s special when I go home imagining what it must’ve tasted like. I did see it at the table next to us and it looked like incredibly simple hummus with a slight twist.
I looove the squash flavor it gives to an otherwise traditional-tasting hummus.
And because, I too, love to complicate simple things, I followed Deb’s technique of shucking garbanzo beans. It took me exactly 14 minutes to shuck this can of garbanzo beans. I was also watching The First Wives Club as I was doing it and it wasn’t nearly as painful as I had anticipated. I think Goldie Hawn’s super kewt outfits made it all better.
This is definitely the smoothest hummus I’ve ever had, and I was actually worried that the acorn squash would give it a funny texture. Not the case at all.
Make this appetizer and take it to a work party or a holiday party. People will welcome something that’s savory, simple and tasty.
Or you can always make this and call it “dinner for one.”
Winter Squash Hummus
1 (1 1/2 pound) acorn squash (or other winter squashes like delicata or butternut squash), halved
1 (15-ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained and rises and shucked
2 garlic cloves, peeled
4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from about 1 1/2 lemons)
3 tablespoons tahini paste
3/4 cup water (may vary)
Baked Pita Chips:
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon sumac, plus more for topping the hummus
1 teaspoon sesame seeds
3-4 slices pita, cut into strips or triangles
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place the squash halves onto a baking sheet and drizzle them with a teaspoon or two of olive oil. Transfer the squash to the oven to bake for 20 to 30 minutes, until the squash is tender when poked with a fork. Allow to cool for a few minutes until the squash is cool enough to handle. Scoop out the seeds and discard. Next, spoon out the flesh and set it aside.
2. To the jar of a blender or food processor, add the garbanzo beans and garlic cloves; pulse a few times until the garbanzo beans resemble a coarse meal. To the jar of the blender or food processor, add the reserved acorn squash, lemon juice and tahini paste. With the blender or food processor on, drizzle in 1/2 cup of water, scraping down the sides every so often, until the consistency is super smooth. You may need to add additional water (I added about 1/4 cup of water extra) to get it to your desired consistency. Give it a taste test and adjust the seasoning (I added about 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt). Transfer to a serving bowl, drizzle with olive oil and top with a sprinkling of sumac.
3. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. To a small bowl, add the cumin, fresh thyme leaves, sumac, sesame seeds and a liberal pinch of salt; mix until combined. Lay the pita strips or triangles onto a baking sheet and brush each strip with olive oil. Sprinkle the slices of pita with the zaatar mixture. Transfer to the oven to bake for 6-8 minutes, until lightly browned. Carefully flip over the pita slices and brush the opposite side with olive oil; sprinkle the slices of pita with the zaatar mixture and return to the oven for an additional 6 to 8 minutes, until lightly golden browned and firm to the touch. Remove and set aside to cool. Serve alongside hummus.
Serves 4-6, as an appetizer