My first job as an editorial assistant in Midtown Manhattan was very close to a stop on the E train that had a Subway sandwich shop inside it: a Subway in the subway. I never made a habit of going, but on days that I was feeling particularly grumpy or unmotivated I would slink underground and buy a turkey sandwich. It always had That Smell (I really think they should make a candle. It would be the best gag gift ever!), the turkey was rubbery, and the vegetables were limp and watery. I always regretted my lunchtime decision instantly.
I’m not going to lie: there are many things that are difficult to forgo when following a (mostly) vegan diet. Deli meat was never something that I especially liked or looked forward to eating, but it was definitely a convenience. On the days that I worked at my office in the city, I usually brought a turkey or ham sandwich from home to avoid spending $15 on a salad in Soho. When I was working from home, I forgot about lunch until I was ravenous at 2pm, and then I usually ended up rummaging through the fridge and eating Owen’s Land O’ Lakes yellow American cheese slices over rice cakes.
When I began incorporating lots of vegan meals (and days and months!) into my diet last year, one of the first things I did was make a big weekly batch of hummus. I started with a classic version, but I quickly began to view it as a sort of empty canvas or blank slate. How crazy could I get with add-ins? What ingredients did I have lurking in the back of my fridge or cabinets? Basically everything went into the food processor. The results were invariably delicious, and I never got bored. These days my lunch consists of a low-carb wrap (I’m obsessed with Joseph’s whole wheat lavash) stuffed with romaine, hummus, and whatever leftover veggies are in the fridge.
Here is my basic recipe for hummus, plus nine variations that I love (the roasted apple one is my current fave). I want to try versions with cocoa, porcini mushrooms, and walnut-orange-cinnamon, but I haven’t had a chance to test them yet–maybe in a future post! Hummus will keep for about a week in the fridge.
I hope your holidays were wonderful! Let’s eat more plants in 2015!
Makes approximately 3 cups
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained
1/4 cup tahini
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup warm water
Combine the chickpeas, tahini, garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, and cumin in a food processor and pulse until well blended. With the motor running, drizzle in the olive oil. Drizzle in the water, at little at a time, until the hummus is smooth and creamy.
Roasted Apple-Thyme: Preheat the oven to 400F. Toss one peeled and chopped apple with a drizzle of olive oil and maple syrup. Spread on a parchment-lined baking sheet and roast until soft. Add apple to food processor. Substitute white beans for the chickpeas. Add 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme.
Miso-Carrot: Simmer 1 cup sliced carrots until very tender. Add to food processor. Add 2 teaspoons miso paste and 2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger. Substitute sesame oil for the olive oil.
Chipotle Black Bean: Substitute black beans for the chickpeas and lime zest and juice for the lemon. Add 1-2 teaspoons sauce from a can of chipotle chiles.
Smoky BBQ: Add 2 tablespoons tomato paste, 2 teaspoons liquid smoke (optional), 1/2 teaspoon chili powder, and 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika.
Basil Pea: Substitute 2 cups thawed frozen green peas (just run them under hot tap water) for the chickpeas. Add 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil. Garnish with toasted pine nuts.
Indian Butternut Squash: Add 1 cup cooked mashed butternut squash (or sweet potato or canned pumpkin) and 1 teaspoon garam masala.
Spicy Beet: Add one 8-ounce package of cooked beets (chopped) and 1-2 teaspoons sriracha. This is equally good with white beans.
Roasted Garlic Spinach: Add 2 cups baby spinach and 1/4 cup roasted garlic cloves (tip: I cheat and buy them from the supermarket olive bar!). This is equally good with white beans.
Artichoke-Green Olive: Substitute white beans for the chickpeas. Add one 15-ounce can artichoke hearts (drained), 1/2 cup pitted green olives, and 1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary (optional).