When it comes to food preference predictability, I’m pretty easy to get to know. I like heat, but more than heat, I like creamy textures and bright notes that balance sweet and sour flavors. This dish takes sweet roasted carrots to a new level by incorporating a member of the same family (apiaceae), fresh-tasting cilantro, a dash of lemon juice, a smidge of harissa, pine nuts and the creamiest hummus imaginable.
HELLO. MY NAME IS SHARBANI AND I LOVE CILANTRO
Let’s start with cilantro. As you may be able to tell by the presence of roots, I didn’t find the cilantro photographed above in the local store. I found it at one of the largest markets I’ve even been to–and possibly the most magical place ever to find mass quantities of cilantro–La Merced in Mexico City. As my friends and I drove into the market, we passed what appeared to be an entire smaller market (yet still larger than my local farmers’ market) devoted only to cilantro. I rolled down the windows and inhaled deeply to experience the scent of one of my favorite ingredients. (If this sounds awful to you, there’s a reason why and it’s not that I’m insane.)
HELLO. MY NAME IS SHARBANI AND HUMMUS SAVED MY LIFE.
Moving on from my love of cilantro, let’s talk about hummus. No, it’s not made of magic, but it might as well be. Hummus has helped me through college, breakups, and life–and out of plenty of awkward conversations. Ok, so it hasn’t technically saved my life, but emotionally, maybe.
I fear that I learned too late in life that not all hummus is the same. The first time I had freshly, homemade hummus at a Middle Eastern friend’s house, I felt I had been duped by all previous hummus in my life. It was so creamy, so perfect. But I couldn’t seem to shake loose any secrets from apparent experts over the years to come.
That was until I was recently gifted Jerusalem by two lovely Egyptian friends. The secret, it turns out, is baking soda! Baking soda is alkaline and helps to soften chickpeas (and other legumes) faster by weakening pectic bonds. Adding acids, such as lemon juice or vinegar, will actually hinder this process. (This also works for lentil dishes such as dal.)
All the way at the bottom of this post is the recipe from Jerusalem. (If you care at all about hummus, take the time to try it at least once.) I highly recommend purchasing the whole cookbook – it’s one of the best I’ve read in years! (Meaning not only are the explanations great, but I have actually been using the recipes without excessive tweaks!)
SO, TAKE ME BACK TO THE DISH
Yes, so the delicious picture on top. The sliced carrots were tossed in olive oil and salt, then roasted at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for 15-20 min and finished with lemon juice. They were then piled on top of the hummus (mixed with some spicy harissa) with sauteed bitter, leafy greens, then sprinkled with toasted pine nuts and cilantro.
HUMMUS FROM JERUSALEM
- 1 1/2 cups/250 g dried chickpeas
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 6 1/2 cups/1.5 liters water
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons/270 g light tahini paste
- 4 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 4 cloves garlic, crushed
- 6 1/2 tablespoons/100 ml ice-cold water
The night before, put the chickpeas in a large bowl and cover them with cold water at least twice their volume. Leave to soak overnight.
The next day, drain the chickpeas. Place a medium saucepan over high heat and add the drained chickpeas and baking soda. Cook for about 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the water and bring to a boil. Cook, skimming off any foam and any skins that float to the surface. The chickpeas will need to cook between 20 and 40 minutes, depending on the type and freshness, sometimes even longer. Once done, they should be very tender, breaking up easily when pressed between your thumb and finger, almost but not quite mushy.
Drain the chickpeas. You should have roughly 3 2/3 cups/600 g now. Place the chickpeas in a food processor and process until you get a stiff paste. Then, with the machine still running, add the tahini paste, lemon juice, garlic, and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Finally, slowly drizzle in the iced water and allow it to mix for about 5 minutes, until you get a very smooth and creamy paste.
Transfer the hummus to a bowl, cover the surface with plastic wrap, and let it rest for at least 30 minutes. If not using straightaway, refrigerate until needed. Make sure to take it out of the fridge at least 30 minutes before serving.