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June, 2013

Scratch Parsley and Scallion Hummus with Shaved Israeli Cucumber Salad and Feta Cheese
By Heidi Allison

The first thing you will notice about this dish is how fresh it tastes: everything is from scratch — even the garbanzo beans — and, you’ll know it!

CucumbersThis sensational salad is a new twist on that iconic Middle Eastern favorite – Hummus. In this cutting-edge rendition, the Shaved Israeli Cucumber Salad (cucumber, tomato, Kalamata Olives and Red Onion), marinated in a heady lemon and fresh oregano vinaigrette, is placed on top of the herb-infused Hummus. This simple change imparts an entirely new flavor profile to this rather bland dish, and makes it feel more like a complete meal rather than just an appetizer. It’s also satisfyingly light—a perfect choice for the hot days of summer.

The first thing you will notice about this dish is how fresh it tastes: everything is from scratch — even the garbanzo beans — and, you’ll know it! After several attempts with cooking the dried beans in an Olla (Mexican terracotta bean pot) and slow-cooker, the results were surprisingly good with the easier-to-use Crock Pot— the chickpeas had that perfect soft and creamy texture, without a hint of “beany taste”, after cooking for 6 hours on a high setting. No pre-soaking the night before and the beans definitely had a richer taste. (Don’t skimp and use canned beans — this step was crucial in making the finished dish taste so special.) To up the flavor of this rather bland legume, I added an onion, several cloves of garlic and bay leaf to the bean cooking water. Another “trick” is adding a touch of baking soda to the bean cooking water, which softens its crunchy, tough meat into that creamy, smooth-as-butter consistency — the hallmark of perfectly-prepared chickpeas. (Never add an acid, or salt to the beans until they are done cooking— this will toughen its proteins and make the beans hard; always season after cooking.)

But, it’s not just the cooking technique that adds that special flavor to this hummus — green onion and flat-leaf parsley, garlic and lemon impart a bracingly fresh, herbaceous taste. Lemon, also crucial to this dish’s flavor profile, is added in two forms, zest and juice, to intensify its flavor, which dissipates with time. The great meal choice for vegetarians and meat-lovers alike.

Scratch Parsley and Scallion Hummus with Shaved Israeli Cucumber Salad and Feta Cheese
Makes: 4 entrée’s: 8 appetizers


Scratch Parsley and Scallion Hummus with Shaved Israeli Cucumber Salad and Feta Cheese 2½ cups “Scratch Garbanzo Beans” (see recipe below)
3 cloves Garlic
2 teaspoons Kosher Flake Salt
5 Tablespoons Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice
¼ cup Water
1/3 cup Tahini, stirred well
¼ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 bunch Flat Leaf Parsley (about ½ cup), chopped
5 Green Onions, sliced thin, green part only
Zest of 2 Lemons
¼ cup Shaved Israeli Cucumber Salad (see Recipe below)
8 ounces Feta cheese

Preparation:
Place garbanzo beans, garlic and salt into food processor and process for 10-15 seconds.

Add lemon juice, water, parsley, scallions and tahini, and process for another 10-15 seconds, scraping down the sides of the bowl.

With the motor running, drizzle olive oil into bean mixture.

Place hummus mixture into a bowl, fold in lemon zest and adjust seasoning.

Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

To serve, place 1/3 cup of Scallion and Parsley Hummus on a plate, and top with ¼ cup of drained cucumber salad (use a large, slotted spoon).

Sprinkle with Feta cheese and serve.

Scratch Garbanzo Beans
Makes: 10 cups

Ingredients
:
2 pounds (4 cups) Dried Garbanzo Beans
14 cups Water
¼ teaspoon Baking Soda
1 Onion, peeled and cut in half.
4 cloves Garlic, peeled and smashed
1 Bay Leaf

Preparation:
Place garbanzo beans, water, baking soda, onion, garlic and bay leaf in a 5- quart slow-cooker. Cover and cook on high for 6 hours, or until beans are soft and creamy. Remove bay leaf and onion and let cool to room temperature; then use in above recipe, or place in the refrigerator.

Shaved Israeli Cucumber, Tomato and Kalamata Olive Salad in Lemon Oregano Vinaigrette
Makes: 1½ cups Ingredients
:
1 Hot House Cucumber (or 6 Persian Cukes)
Juice of a Fresh Lemon
Zest of ½ Lemon
¼ cup Water 1 Roma Tomato, small dice (can sub with 5 Grape Tomatoes, cut in half)
10 Kalamata Olives, broken into large pieces
Quarter Red Onion, shaved into thin slices
1 teaspoon Fresh Chopped Oregano (or, ½ teaspoon Dried Oregano )
Freshly Cracked Black Pepper and Kosher Flake Salt, to taste
3-4 drops of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Preparation:
Place mandoline or Japanese benriner vegetable slicer over medium bowl, and thinly slice cucumber into bowl. Add rest of ingredients, and stir to combine. Place into refrigerator to allow flavors to “marry” for at least 30 minutes.

Chef’s Notes:
You will have plenty of leftover, cooked garbanzo beans— they freeze well. Use beans in other dishes, such as dals, falafel balls, soups, etc.