Taking Hummus to New Horizons

roasted-red-pepper-hummus-pastaRoasted peppers are one of the most versatile ingredients to have on hand and also one of the easiest to make yourself. (You can buy jarred roasted peppers, but it’s much more cost- effective to pop some raw peppers into the oven.) And since most bell peppers are pretty big, one roasted pepper can go a long way: in this case, I had enough to make a batch of roasted red pepper hummus and also enough to chop and toss with tuna fish and extra-virgin olive oil to make a quick meal.

You can roast whatever kind of pepper you like. My favorite peppers are mild, sweet bell peppers – being a contact-wearer makes me leery of handling hot peppers – but if you like hotter peppers, look for poblanos. They tend to be on the spicy side and are especially nice to roast. (Poblanos look like pointy dark-green bell peppers.) The key is to roast until your pepper of choice is quite charred on the outside; this will make it easy to peel once it’s cooled enough to touch. If you have a gas stove and a penchant for playing with fire, you can poke a long metal fork through your pepper and hold it just above the flame to roast it, turning until all sides are blackened. I am a wimp when it comes to fire and prefer to use a closed oven for my pepper roasting.

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

1 red bell pepper

4 cloves garlic, chopped

15 oz. can of chickpeas, preferably Eden (they use BPA-free cans)

1 T. tahini

Sea salt

2 servings whole-grain pasta of your choice (I used Tinkyada’s brown rice linguini)

Sweet paprika for garnishing

Make the oven ready for roasting by placing a sheet of aluminum foil on the bottom-most rack. This will catch any potential drips coming from the pepper and will potentially save you tons of clean-up time. Preheat oven to 425F. Place pepper on the middle rack, being sure to center it over the foil. Roast for 10-15 minutes or until all sides are blackened and blistering. (The larger the pepper, the longer the roasting will take.) Remove and slip into a plastic bag. Seal bag and let sit until cool enough to handle. When it is, the skin should easily peel away. Do so over a cutting board, because water will leak out of the pepper as you handle it. Cut away the seeds and stem. At this point, if you’d like to save half of the pepper to use later, just put it in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 4 days. Or use all of the pepper in the hummus.

While the pepper is roasting, sautée the garlic in a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil over medium-low heat for 3 minutes or until garlic is soft and fragrant. Slip into a food processor. Drain chickpeas, reserving the juice, and add chickpeas to the garlic. Scoop in tahini and sprinkle in some salt. Add the peeled roasted pepper and process until smooth. If the mixture seems too dry, add some of the reserved canning liquid OR a dash of water. (If you use the whole pepper, you probably won’t need to add any liquid; if you only use half the pepper, the hummus might be a little dry.)

Let the hummus sit and the flavors marry while you prepare the pasta according to package directions. Toss cooked and drained pasta with as much of the hummus as you’d like (leftover hummus makes a great dip!) and garnish with a dash or two of paprika. Serve immediately.

Enjoy!

Courtesy of The Cultured Cook.

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