Back in the day, when I was a flight attendant, my food choices, being a vegetarian were very limited on layovers; particularly in the plains states (South Dakota, North Dakota, Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, etc). My restaurant dining options were grilled cheese, pizza, or pasta Primavera. Perhaps you are wondering why these choices were a problem. The truth is, I was searching for something fresh, and certainly a bit lower on the “grease” scale.
Menus have certainly changed with the times, and I am often thrilled and surprised to find interesting vegetarian options in the most unlikely places. I wish that most cities would have a wide range of ethnic dining options. Ethnic foods, in general, are often vegetarian-friendly. The most common vegetarian menu item that I currently see on most “standard menus”, is hummus. For awhile, it was OK to order each restaurant’s own hand-made version, or pre-packaged version of hummus; especially when I was with friends, as I didn’t want to be the person who could never find anything to eat. Eating hummus quickly got old, and I began to think that hummus was just another “grilled cheese sandwich” in disguise. Therefore, I swore off eating hummus in any form, for a few years.
These days, I have come around to appreciate hummus again, but, it just can’t be traditional hummus (garbanzos, tahini, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper). I have been experimenting and “upgrading” the basic recipe to provide a more interesting product (hemp seeds, almonds, pistachios, herbs, spices, tropical fruits and vegetables, etc). I am finding that I actually like hummus for breakfast as it fills me up and stays with me longer than oatmeal, granola, nut butters, etc. As it keeps for at least several days to a week, I can always grab some carrots, celery, cucumbers, rice cakes, tortilla or lentil chips, or, just a spoon, and snack on hummus while I am making dinner.
As I am heading to New Mexico this week, I thought that I would share one of my favorite Southwestern hummus recipes. This recipe for Chile Avocado Hummus, with fresh avocado, one of my top ten foods, is one of my favorites. I hope you will enjoy it as much as I do.
Chile Avocado Hummus – makes about 3 cups
1 can organic chickpeas, drained and rinsed well
1 large ripe avocado
1 4-oz can (or 1/4 cup) of mild diced Hatch green chiles
3 tbsp. tahini (raw or roasted)
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, plus 1 tbsp. for garnish
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 tbsp. fresh lime juice
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
3/4 tsp. sea salt, or to taste
2 tsp. hot sauce, optional (I use Cholula, or Horsetooth Hot Sauce (a local Fort Collins brand))
1/4 cup of toasted pine nuts (for garnish; toast over lower heat in a dry skillet for 3-5 minutes until lightly browned in places)
Place the chickpeas in a food processor and pulse until finely minced. Add the rest of the ingredients, except for the pine nuts and additional olive oil, and process until smooth. Taste for seasonings and top with the extra tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with pine nuts. Serve with fresh diced vegetables, tortilla chips lentil chips, crackers, or, on top of a taco salad as an alternative to sour cream. Hummus is also tasty in a wrap with fresh sprouts, tomatoes, greens, cheese, and salsa. Avocado hummus will keep for 4 days, and then starts to discolor a bit.