Sunday, February 10, 2013

Poor Man's Red Pepper Hummus

So as a purist, I used to scoff at people who advocated using peanut butter in hummus as a cost-cutting work-around of having to use tahini. Mostly, I saw these people as an inferior class who deserved little more than spiteful disregard.

Then I became one of them.

I was at a friend's house making some hummus and they didn't have tahini. After I was done with my too-loud passive-aggressive sighs and eyerolls, I finally gave in and used peanut butter and threw in a roasted bell pepper to liven things up. Turns out the peanut butter and bell pepper compliment each other magically and the hummus was among the best I've ever had. From proud purist to hummus heretic, I've fallen from my pedestal. And it couldn't be more delicious down here.

Prep time: 1 cocktail

1 large red bell pepper
15 ounce can garbanzo beans, drained
2 TBSP peanut butter
1 clove garlic, chopped
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup good olive oil
2 TBSP water
Fresh ground black pepper

Preheat your oven to broil. Poke holes in the pepper with a fork and set it directly on the oven rack. Cook until the top gets totally charred, then rotate with the tongs so a non-burned side is facing up. repeat until the entire pepper is well-blackened. remove the pepper from the oven and place in a small paper bag. Seal the top of the paper bag well and let cool 15 minutes. When it's cool, take the pepper under cool running water and remove the charred skin from the flesh with your hands. Also remove the top, seeds, and innards. Discard everything but the flesh.

Combine the red bell pepper flesh and all the other ingredients in a food processor and puree super well.

Optional garnishes include additional olive oil, paprika, and minced parsley.

I Love Rice, But Do Jollof Rice?

Sorry. That pun is Gawd-awful. Thankfully, the rice is much, much better!

Jollof rice is ubiquitous across West Africa. It's prepared differently in different areas. So consider this only a starter recipe. You can add about any types of vegetable, spice, or protein that you think would go well in here. I've added sauteed seitan, fried plantains, carrot, peas, corn, peanuts, and shrimp powder. Those who are meatier among us commonly add chicken or sausage.

This rice goes great with anything West African. We made it with some kick-ass roasted fish and veggies, but you can also serve it with red-red, meat, or anything else that grabs your fancy. Jollofit! (sorry)

Prep time: 1 cocktail (3 cocktails, if you count cooking time)

1 large onion, very finely minced
3 TBSP oil
1 1/4 cup rice (I usually just use long-grain brown)
3 ounces tomato paste
2" piece of ginger, chopped
1-2 habenero peppers, chopped
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 cup water
1 cup veggie stock
1 cup very finely minced tomatoes

Heat the oil in a big saucepan that has a snug lid over medium heat. Add onions and saute, stirring occasionally until the onions start to turn transparent, about 5-6 minutes.

While onions are cooking, combine tomato paste, ginger, habenero, thyme, cumin, coriander, and nutmeg in a food processor with a couple tablespoons of water. Puree it all into a smooth paste and set aside.

Once onions have turned transparent, add the tomato paste puree and the rice. Stir frequently for about 5 minutes.

Add water, veggie stock, and tomatoes. Stir well, bring to a boil, cover, and reduce to a simmer. Cook until all liquid is absorbed. If rice is still crunchy but all the liquid is cooked off, add some more water or stock. Cooking time takes over an hour.