Feast Flash: Homemade hummus and more

Welcome to my first installment of Feast Flash, my blog-within-a-blog. I love writing about food as much as I love experimenting with new recipes, so these episodes will pop up frequently. Over the past year, I’ve built a nice pantry of grains, spices, and oils, but I won’t be able to take any of these things with me to Scotland. Rebuilding my pantry for only four months of cooking would be way too expensive, so my summer project is to develop of collection of simple recipes featuring only basic ingredients.

First on my list was hummus. When we lost power for five days, I also lost a large container of hummus that I had brought from home. I’m so tired of paying $5 for a tiny tub of hummus at Kroger. After all, hummus is primarily chick peas which sell for around 75 cents per can in Virginia (I paid 77 cents on my last trip to the grocery store).

The only potentially expensive ingredient in hummus is tahini, a paste made from sesame seeds. On the way back from a trip downtown, I stopped at one of Charlottesville’s Asian markets and picked it up for around $5 – the same price as a small quantity of pre-made hummus at the grocery store, and you only need a couple tablespoons per batch of hummus.

The best investment for hummus-lovers.

The best investment for hummus-lovers.

I begin basically every cooking experience with a Google search of the food I want to make, even if I think I already know how to make it (hubris tends to backfire spectacularly in the kitchen). A quick look at some hummus recipes will reveal that they’re all basically the same. My hummus was:

  • 1 can of chick peas; drain half the liquid
  • A few splashes of olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons of tahini
  • A handful of kalamata olives
  • Salt
  • Pepper

All you need is a blender or a food processor — just pour everything in and blend it together. I waited to add the olives until the chick peas were mostly blended, but it really doesn’t matter. You can add anything you want — roasted red peppers, sundried tomatoes, Sriracha hot sauce, roasted garlic…any flavor you like.

Homemade hummus tastes fresher. Saving money probably adds to that.

Homemade hummus tastes much fresher than store-bought hummus.

I had the hummus and crackers for lunch at work today, and dinner was part of my minimal ingredients project. I made turkey meatballs, a variation of one of the simplest recipes ever. In their most basic version, meatballs are egg, meat, breadcrumbs, and spices. You can change it up a lot by altering the type of meat and the seasoning.

Tonight I made turkey meatballs with Italian seasoning, minced garlic, salt, pepper, and parmesan. I only had Panko crumbs instead of traditional breadcrumbs, but they worked out fine. I only used half the package of turkey and froze the rest, so I only needed one egg and added breadcrumbs until the mixture stuck together. After that, I cooked them in a pan on the stovetop, turning them until they browned on all sides and felt firm to the touch (a squishy meatball is an undercooked meatball).

I sauteed some green beans to round out my meal.

I sauteed some green beans to round out my meal. My cooperative housemate Ruth agreed to be a hand model for my picture.

The meatballs were surprisingly light, and the parmesan added creaminess. Like hummus, meatballs are a blank canvas. You could add red pepper flakes, spinach, fresh herbs, anything.

The next few months should take me from my comfort zone in Charlottesville to Europe’s vast array of new culinary experiences. I can’t wait to go grocery shopping at the Tesco by St. Andrews or eat haggis for the first time. Feast Flash has some exciting episodes ahead.

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