This recipe is taken from The River Cottage Veg Everyday Book by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. The book was a present I got for Christmas and so far everything I have made from it has been delicious! I embarked on a meat free or at least meat reduced diet in January. There are, of course, countless benefits to doing this in the month of January including improved health and bank balance, however, my reason was largely culinary.
I really enjoy cooking but I found that I was basing and planning all my meals around meat. This was in spite of really enjoying vegetarian food. Meat can, of course, still lead to diverse meals, but there are so many types of vegetables that I wanted to start to focus on them a little more. I wanted to start off 2014 with as much variety as possible.
I served this with sour dough flat breads (I will post the recipe for these soon) when I first made them, and the hummus exceeded all my expectations. It’s vivid colour reveals only it’s vivid taste, creamy, earthy, warm and nutty! It’s such a simple recipe that it doesn’t really need any pictures (Yes, the photos are unnecessary but pretty!) or major explanation.
I have included the recipe as provided in the book with any little extras of tweaks from me in italics.
- 50g walnuts
- 1 tbsp cumin seeds (I like to use black cumin for a little twist)
- 25g stale bread, crusts removed and torn into chunks (I used sourdough spelt bread)
- 200g cooked beetroot (not pickled), cut into cubes
- 1 tbsp tahini (sesame seed paste) or smooth peanut butter
- 1 large garlic clove, crushed
- Juice of 1 lemon
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- A little olive or rapeseed oil (optional)
1. Put the walnuts on a baking tray and toast in an oven preheated to 180°C/Gas Mark 4 for 5-7 minutes, until fragrant. (I toasted mine until they were dark brown in patches) Leave to cool.
2. Warm a small frying pan over a medium heat. Add the cumin seeds and dry-fry them, shaking the pan almost constantly, until they start to darken and release their aroma – this should take less than a minute, so be careful not to burn them. Crush the seeds with a pestle and mortar or a spice grinder while still warm.
3. Break the bread into small chunks, put in a food processor or blender with the walnuts and blitz until fine (I have a very small food processor that is an attachment to my hand blender so I did mine in batches). I did a gluten free version without the bread. It was delicious but needs to be eaten soon after it is made as it starts to separate a little. Add the beetroot, tahini, most of the garlic, a good pinch of the cumin, half the lemon juice, a little salt and a good grind of pepper, then blend to a thick paste (I was generous with the tahini, and probably added about 2 tablespoons).
4. Taste the mixture and adjust it by adding a little more cumin, garlic, lemon, salt and/or pepper, blending again until you are happy with it. Loosen with a dash of oil if you think it needs it (I use oil from jars of sun dried tomatoes or artichokes as both a thrifty and flavour enhancing move!). Refrigerate until required but bring back to room temperature to serve. It ill keep for a few days in the fridge.
This really is delicious with bread flat breads, crudites or blobbed all over a salad as a thick dressing!