Sunday, April 10, 2011

Hummus vs. Humus

Humus is an organic ingredient in the soil and hummus is Arabic for chickpeas.  You would think that as a garden article, I'd be talking about humus but I'm not!

We stopped by Haddad's Restaurant, 1010 W. Main Street, Peoria IL yesterday for lunch.  It's a LITTLE twelve-seat candidate for Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives!  Certainly everything was very good and especially the best Eggplant Hummus I've every had.  I realized it was a garden gift waiting to be grown locally.

The earliest known documentation of hummus itself comes from 18th-century Damascus.  Although there is a debate between Israel and Syria on who owns the commercial word hummus, the U.S. has become a growing market for hummus; increasing sales over 30% in the last few years.

Eggplant is the perfect garden vegetable for this area.  A tender garden annual that is related to the tomato.

The bushes grow 5 feet tall with hairy gray-green leaves. The fruit varies in size, shape and color.  Most of us are familiar with the purple produce pictured here.  It's color so well known, eggplant is now a paint color.
Eggplant requires warm soil and warm temperatures (remaining above 68 degrees.)  Full sun and heavily composted soil with lots of manure. Eggplant is fairly drought tolerant and should not be overly watered. 

Eggplant is quite adaptable to growing in pots.  Harvest young for the best flavor.  They are ready once the skin turns glossy.  Aphids, spider mites and caterpillars love the plants so keep watch for these and stop before they quickly destroy young plants. 

The other ingredient in all hummus is chickpeas aka garbanzo beans.  They can be raised in this area, but, it takes a very long (100 days) growing time and seeds must be planted immediately after the last frost or started inside.  A legume; they are neither a pea or a bean.  They also like the same growing conditions as eggplant.  Most of us will simply buy a can for our hummus recipes.  Either way, it's another healthy ingredient.

Whether you grow or buy your ingredients, here's a typical Eggplant Hummus recipe:

1 - Large Eggplant
1 - can chickpeas/garbanzo beans - drained
3 - Garlic cloves - peeled
1/4 C - Fresh lemon juice
3 T - Tahini (ground sesame seed paste)
Dash - Sea Salt
1/4 C - Olive oil
2 T - Fresh chopped parsley (optional)
3/4 tsp - Cumin
1/8 tsp - Cayenne (optional)

Slice eggplant in half, lay cut side down on foil lined rimmed baking sheet.  Wrap garlic in foil and lay on sheet with eggplant.  Roast at 400 degrees for 45 minutes or until eggplant is soft.

Allow to cool slightly, scoop out inside of eggplant into food processor or blender.  Discard skin and water.  Add garlic, chickpeas, lemon juice, Tahini, salt, cumin and cayenne.  Whip until smooth and fluffy.  May add a little oil if it's too stiff.  Fold in parsley gently or use as a garnish.  Arrange on plate, sprinkle lightly with olive oil and paprika.  Makes 8 servings.  Refrigerate at least 4 hours.  

May be frozen and reheated.  Traditionally dip flat bread (pita), torn in pieces, into the mixture.  It may be used as a dip with chips or vegetables or as a sandwich spread.  

Nutrition Facts for one serving - based on a 2000 calorie diet: 
304 Calories - 118 from fat 
Total fat is 13.1 g (20%) - Saturated fat is 1.7g (8%)
Cholesterol:  0%
Sodium:  58 mg (2%)
Carbohydrates:  37.8g (13%)
Dietary Fiber:  11.8g (47%)
Sugars:  7.3g
Protein:  11.9g
Vitamin A: 3%       
Vitamin C:  14%
Calcium:  9%
Iron:  23%

Yum Hummus!

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