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Summertime is Picnic Time

Today we're going to deal with picnics and summertime dishes. Our recipe will be for Hummus, a widely popular dip originating in the Middle Eastern countries. Although the ingredients for hummus have existed for centuries some believe that the first evidence of this dish came about in the 18th century, not all that long ago.

The foundation of hummus is puréed chickpeas. Different recipes call for varied amounts of several different ingredients, but the basics are puréed chickpeas, lemon juice and garlic. This recipe calls for fresh garlic, but remember you could use roasted garlic instead. If you choose to use roasted garlic, use twice as many cloves as you would fresh garlic. The reason being the flavor of the roasted garlic is far more mild than the fresh.

Hummus is high in several important nutrients and is a good source of protein and dietary fiber. Hummus is generally served with toasted wedges of pita bread. If you use chopped veggies you can even improve the nutritional value of this wonderful dish.

Hummus

Serves 6

1 cup dried chickpeas, (garbanzo beans)

4 cups water

1/4 cup Tahini, (ground roasted sesame seeds)

2 cloves fresh garlic, crushed

1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice

salt to taste

pinch of cayenne pepper

extra virgin olive oil

1 to 2 Tbl chopped fresh parsley, for garnish

Place the chickpeas in a bowl with water enough to cover generously. Refrigerate overnight

Drain the chickpeas, reserving at least one cup of liquid, and rinse well under running water place in a 2 quart sauce pan, add the 4 cups of water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until very soft, about one hour or a little longer.

Drain the chickpeas reserving any liquid and transfer to a food processor. Pulse to purée. Add the Tahini, garlic and lemon juice, continue to purée. Add just enough of the reserved liquid to achieve a spreadable consistency. Season with salt to taste and a pinch of cayenne.

If serving immediately, spread the purée onto a shallow plate and smooth the top with a spoon. Drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with a little fresh chopped parsley. Or you can transfer the purée to a bowl, cover and keep at room temperature for up to three hours or in the refrigerator for up to two days. Bring back to room temperature before serving and adding the garnish. The mixture may have thickened upon standing, you may thin it out with a little water or some of the reserved cooking liquid.

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