Last week I posted a hummus recipe as well as simple recipes for tahini sauce and spicy lemon dressing to do on top.
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But to get the real Middle Eastern experience, you need more toppings to turn your homemade hummus into a full vegetarian or vegan meal. Mashed fava beans, hard boiled eggs, roasted eggplant salad, pickled onion and roasted hot peppers, as well as the tahini and spicy lemon dressing, can all top your hummus or be served alongside it. With a side of chopped vegetable salad and warm pita bread, you'll have a full, heavy meal. Levantine comfort food.
Want to plate your hummus like a professional? Here’s how it’s done:
Cooked fava beans
To make authentic fava bean stew, you will need small, Egyptian fava beans, available now at some Whole Foods stores. Otherwise, just use any dried, skin-on, fava bean you can find.
1 cup small brown fava beans
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
Kosher salt to taste
To serve: hard boiled eggs, one per person
1. The night before, soak fava beans in water.
2. The following day, drain fava beans and cover with about 1 inch fresh water. Add baking soda and bring to a boil. Then lower the heat, cover and cook for 45-60 minutes, or until the fava beans are very tender.
3. Before serving, mash fava beans with potato masher or a fork, keeping the stew chunky. Add salt to taste.
4. Spoon over hummus, and top with a hard-boiled egg and tatbilah (chili pepper sauce, recipe below).
Roasted eggplant salad
2 large eggplants
3 minced garlic cloves
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
Kosher salt to taste
1. Roast each whole eggplant on an open flame on medium-high heat for 18 to 20 minutes, until they show no resistance when pressed. Use tongs to turn them frequently so they cook evenly on all sides. Remove them from the heat. Slice them open, sprinkle each half with 1/4 teaspoon salt, then transfer them to a colander, cut side down, to drain for 10 minutes.
2. Scoop eggplant flesh out, chop and transfer to a bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix. Spoon over hummus and serve with tatbilah sauce (recipe below) on the side.
Roasted hot peppers
8-10 large hot or mild peppers, such as Anaheim
1. Preheat oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit (260 degrees Celsius). Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil and place peppers on top.
2. Roast in the oven for 15-20 minutes, rotating peppers once, until skin is charred.
3. Remove from the oven, put in a bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let stand for 10 minutes, then peel skin gently with your hands. Serve peeled roasted peppers next to hummus.
Tatbilah, hot pepper sauce
This classic Palestinian sauce makes the hummus even better. In Levantine cuisine, pickled Shifka peppers, which are widely available in Middle Eastern and Israeli stores in America, are the pepper of choice for accompanying hummus. But you can also use the Italian pepperoncini peppers, whose mild taste makes them pretty similar to the Middle Eastern variety.
1/2 cup pickled shifka or pepperoncini peppers
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup olive oil
1. Finely chop peppers with a knife or in the food processor. Mix with the rest of the ingredients. Let each guest add the sauce to his or her plate of hummus. The sauce can be kept up to a week in the fridge.
Quick pickled onions
3/4 cup distilled white vinegar
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds (optional)
1 yellow onion
1. In a medium bowl, mix white vinegar, salt, sugar and mustard seeds.
2. Peel onion and slice into 8-10 wedges. Put in a jar, pour vinegar mixture over (make sure it covers the onions completely; you can add a little water as needed) and let stand for 30 minutes. Serve with hummus.