Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

Last summer we had an overabundance of beautiful red peppers growing outside the back door, so we used them in a variety of ways – smoked, dried and then ground into powder to be used in salad vinaigrettes, dips and meat rubs. We also canned a few jars of them, to be used in another variety of methods ….. this is one of them, hope you enjoy! Remember, if you don’t happen to be crazy about the idea of doing the work for your own roasted red peppers, they are easy to buy!

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About 3/4 cup jarred roasted red peppers
One 15-ounce can chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, about 1 large lemon
1/4 cup tahini
Half of a large garlic clove, minced
2 tbsp olive oil, plus more for serving
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 1 1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper

For serving: 2 tablespoons of minced red pepper, extra virgin olive oil and sesame seeds.

Throw everything into a food processor and let it whiz until smooth and creamy. Add a bit of water if it seems too dense.

Now – this is critical – taste!!! Every different jar of roasted peppers, or can of chickpeas will have a different level of flavour. Make sure this is the way you like it. I often end up adding a bit of water, a bit more oil, more salt and certainly some fresh ground pepper. Just to bump up the flavour a bit, I also added a teaspoon of our ground red pepper – but you could use smoked paprika.

Turn into a serving dish, drizzle with a little extra good, extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle with a few sesame seeds and a few of the roasted red peppers, minced.

For the non wheat eaters in our group, I serve this with a pile of fresh vegetables, and for the rest of the crew they love pita chips, taco chips or rice crackers. This is as versatile as your own household likes!

Avocado Salad Dressing

Ever slice open an avocado to use in a salad and think …. yuck … half of this is disgusting????  That happened to me this week when I really had a craving to add creamy avocado to my salad.  After fuming for a moment I decided to turn it into a dressing.  I know I always say to taste taste taste – but it is really important to do that with this dressing – you really want it to pack a punch of flavour into a mouthful.  By the time you dilute it with all your salad ingredients you still need to get all that avocado party going on.

Avocado Salad Dressing

In a mortar and pestle combine:

avocado (1/2?)

grainy dijon mustard (1 tsp)

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

1 tbsp red wine vinegar

1 tbsp lime juice

Grind well until it is all creamy and bright – slowly drizzle in about 1/3 cup good quality olive oil and continue until it is all smooth.  (Yes, sure – you could do this in a blender, or a bullet, or just in a bowl)

Taste and adjust for seasonings.  If you like it a bit spicy, add a few chili flakes.  If you like garlic, add a garlic clove before you really start grinding it with the mortar and pestle.  You get the idea – add stuff you really like.  And – yes, that is a glass of wine in this photo – everything I make tastes better when I cook with wine! 

Sun Dried Tomato Vinaigrette

It is really important to taste, taste, taste when you are making this vinaigrette – each different variety of sun dried tomato will give a different flavour. This should be FULL of taste, so if not – make adjustments.

Sun Dried Tomato Vinaigrette

1/4 cup drained, oil packed sun dried tomatoes – finely minced

2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar

1/2 lemon (juice of)

1 garlic clove, minced

1 tsp dried oregano

1/2 tsp honey

1/2 tsp freshly cracked pepper

1/4 tsp kosher salt

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

Give all ingredients a good, vigorous shake in a jar and slowly add the olive oil. Taste and adjust for seasonings.

This is great on a tossed salad, and perhaps even better on a pasta salad.  If you want a smoother texture, place all ingredients (except oil)  in a blender and process for a few moments before slowly adding the oil.

pasta with sun dried tomato vinaigrette

Quinoa Feta Salad

Quinoa

This one is for you Shae – hope you have fun making it!  xo

1/2 cup white quinoa

You can use either all white or red quinoa, but I love the look of the combination!

1/2 cup red quinoa

1 tsp salt

1 1/2 cups water (or chicken stock if you are so inclined!)

Rinse quinoa well, then combine all ingredients in pot – bring to a boil with the lid off, then turn down to a simmer, cover and allow to cook for 20 minutes undisturbed.  Remove lid, fluff with a fork, and allow to sit for at least 5 minutes to allow some of the steam to release.

Set aside to cool slightly.

1/2 cup feta, broken or cut into little pieces

1/2 cup colored peppers, diced

1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes, minced

1/3 cup black olives, sliced

1/4 cup red onion, finely diced

generous amount of fresh basil, chopped

optional:  1 cob of corn – kernels removed

I only use the corn when it is in season, and a great way to use up that extra cob you cooked!  If corn is in season … then tomatoes are too so use fresh garden tomatoes, chopped up in place of the sun dried tomatoes.

DRESSING

1 garlic clove, minced

1 tsp dry mustard powder

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1/2-2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

Combine dressing ingredients, blend well and set aside

Combine the prepared vegetables with the cooked quinoa.  The flavours really come together well if you do this when the quinoa is still slightly warm.  Pour enough dressing over to coat, and give it a good toss.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Always remember to keep tasting – sometimes just that little extra bit of salt and pepper make the difference you are looking for.

Looking for a full meal deal?  Add some cubed extra firm tofu and black beans – you will have such a delicious satisfying dinner in one bowl.

Grilled Vegetables

One of the best ways to enjoy fresh seasonal vegetables is to grill them – often just right on the grilling surface and don’t mess around with them too much!

 Let the fresh flavour speak for itself.

Zucchini likes to be brushed with a little olive oil, and sprinkled with sea salt and freshly ground pepper – while tomatoes like just a little olive oil and save the seasoning for after they come off the grill.

Cauliflower can get a little tough on the grill so I like to steam it a bit first, until almost cooked.  Toss with a little olive oil, a squeeze of lemon juice to keep that bright whiteness, and season with  bit of salt and pepper.

Asparagus is happier if you just grill it right on the cooking surface naked … then dress it up with a drizzle of your best olive oil, a squeeze of fresh lemon, season with salt and pepper.  Added flavour punch comes from occasionally treating it to a bit of freshly grated Parmesan and/or toasted nuts.