Besides spending time with my family over a holiday weekend, I also look forward to the long weekends to enjoy more time to cook. Today, we had an impromptu barbecue. Not wanting to go empty-handed, I looked in my cupboard and realized I had the ingredients for one of my favorite appetizers: Italian Hummus. I first found this recipe in a Giada de Laurentiis cookbook but have adapted it to my preferences including eliminating parsley and adding more oregano instead.
If you have a barbecue to attend this weekend, suprise your host and bring this fantastic appetizer along.
Rather than chickpeas, I turn to Northern Beans or Cannellini Beans for this recipe. I like the flavor of the Northern Beans for this appetizer. They have a nice, mild flavor and are creamy. I've always enjoyed the Middle Eastern version of hummus but this is certainly a nice change and beats the pre-packaged hummus found in the grocery store.
The ingredient list is rather simple and therefore, can be prepared at the last minute to take along to a spur of the moment barbecue. All you need is a 15 oz can of Northern Beans, garlic, olive oil, oregano, lemon juice and a pack of pitas. The lemon juice gives the hummus a fresh, tangy flavor and the oregano adds depth that it's boring and bitter fellow green herb parsley just can't do. I do use dried oregano which works just fine but if you have fresh on-hand, even better. Also, nothing can compare to fresh lemon juice versus the bottled version. Combine the ingredients above (minus the pita) in a food processor and puree a bit and you've got a gorgeous hummus to take to a party.
While you could serve this with plain pita or store-bought pita chips, nothing compares to making your own pita chips. I purchased a pack of pitas (I used whole wheat) and cut each pita into eight triangles. I arranged the triangles on a baking sheet and brushed each with olive oil and then sprinkled with kosher salt. I put the pita under the broiler until they began to get crisp on top, then removed the pita from the oven and flipped each over to brown the other side. The entire process takes less than 5 minutes and the result is crunchy, salty, warm goodness that when dipped in the hummus will make you sigh with happiness. Really, I promise!
The pita chips are not only a hit with the adults but also with little ones. My 10 month-old son could not get enough of the pita chips! For a teething baby, these chips turned out to be nirvana with the crispy outside and soft middle.
As for the presentation, I always think presentation helps a dish taste even better. If it's appealing to the eye, it's much more attractive to the potential tasters. I like to put the hummus in a pretty glass bowl and set it on a small platter and then arrange the pita chips around the bowl. I also like to sprinkle a bit of oregano on top of the hummus and then add a dash of olive oil on top as well.
I'll be posting more recipes this weekend but this was a nice start to the holiday weekend. Enjoy!
Ingredients for Italian Hummus and Pita Chips
*1 15 oz can Northern or Cannellini Beans, rinsed
*1/3 cup olive oil, plus 4 tablespoons
*2 teaspoons minced garlic (feel free to use more if you prefer a more garlicky taste)
*2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
*1.5 tablespoons oregano
*Salt and pepper to taste
*Rinse can of beans and place in bowl of a food processor along with 1/3 cup olive oil, garlic, oregano and lemon juice. Puree until almost smooth. Salt and pepper to taste. Spoon into bowl. Sprinkle hummus in the bowl with a bit of oregano and a drizzle of olive oil.
*Turn on broiler (high) on your oven.
*Cut pita into 8 triangles and place on a cookie sheet.
*Using remaining olive oil, brush each pita triangle with olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt.
*Place cookie sheet under the broiler. Once crisp, remove from oven, flip over each triangle and broil for a few more minutes until crisp. The entire process should take less than five minutes.
*Arrange pita on a platter around the bowl of hummus.
Recipe inspired by Giada de Laurentiis