An memorable dinner at Greens Restaurant in San Francisco several years ago encouraged me to take a look at their menu online every so often, to see what they are serving this season, what new ideas they have come up with, and generally to catch up on the Californian vegetarian and plant-powered scene. One dish on a recent lunch menu attracted my attention: “hummous with grilled pita, spicy tomato jam and olives”. Not particularly original, exciting or different, but oh so evocative - the absolute simplicity of the description appealed to me and instantly brought to mind memories of sunny Mediterranean dishes, packed with flavour, redolent with herbs and garlic, and as far removed from the grey skies and drizzle outside my window as can be.
I set out to create my own version of their hummus and the recipe below is the result. It is low on the effort scale, and although the jam takes time to cook down, there is little preparation involved.
I serve both the hummus and jam warm, which I find it brings out all the aromas, but it is just as good at room temperature. I also like to add some sharp, natural coconut yoghurt on the side to balance the acidity/sweetness/earthiness.
HUMMUS WITH SPICY TOMATO JAM AND BLACK OLIVES
Serves 4 as part of a mezze selection or 2 as a lunch dish
For the spicy tomato jam:-
45 ml/3 tbsp olive oil
175 g/6 oz red onions, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
425 g/15 oz ripe tomatoes, skinned and coarsely chopped
30 ml/2 tbsp pomegranate molasses
2.5 ml/1/2 tsp smoked paprika or to taste
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the hummus:-
2 x 400 g/14 oz tins/cans chickpeas/garbanzos, drained and rinsed
1 fat garlic clove, peeled
60 ml/4 tbsp tahini
75 ml/5 tbsp olive oil
1 lemon, juiced
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the chickpeas/garbanzos:-
25 g/1 oz red onions, peeled and finely chopped
15 g/1/2 oz red chilli, as mild or as hot as you like, deseeded and finely sliced
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
30 ml/2 tbsp olive oil
10 g/1/3 oz fresh coriander/cilantro, coarsely chopped
Squeeze of fresh lemon juice
Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
50 g/2 oz pitted/stoned black olives, halved
Natural coconut or soya yoghurt, seasoned, to serve (optional)
Pita bread, warmed, to serve (optional)
Start off with the jam as it needs to cook down. Heat the oil in a frying pan, add the onions and garlic and cook gently, stirring often, until golden. Mix in the tomatoes, molasses, paprika and some seasoning, turn the heat right down and leave it to reduce until most of the moisture has evaporated. Check and adjust the seasoning and spiciness. The jam can be prepared several days in advance and reheated.
Set aside approximately one quarter of the chickpeas. Put the remainder in a small saucepan with just enough water to cover, bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes. Drain and place in a food processor or blender. Add the garlic, tahini, olive oil, one tablespoon of lemon juice and some seasoning, and blend until smooth – if it is too thick and solid, add just enough warm water to achieve a soft, creamy but not sloppy consistency. Taste and adjust the sharpness, adding more lemon juice if the flavour needs brightening.
While the chickpeas are cooking, gently mix together the reserved chickpeas, red onions, chilli, garlic, olive oil, coriander, a good squeeze of fresh lemon juice and some seasoning.
Spread the warm hummus out on a large plate, spoon the chickpeas over the top, sprinkle with olives and add a good dollop of tomato jam.
Serve immediately with the yoghurt and warm pita bread, and offer the remaining tomato jam on the side.
And how does the dish fit into Dynamic Ageing? Well, chickpeas are full of fibre and protein and also provide Vitamin K, Vitamin B6, folate, iron, magnesium, manganese, zinc and selenium. Tomatoes? So rich in Vitamin C. Olives? Anti-inflammatory, good levels of healthy fatty acids, Vitamin E, Vitamin K and iron. Fresh coriander? Helps remove heavy metals from the body. Tahini? Sesame seeds offer zinc, selenium, copper, iron and Vitamins B6 and E. What a nutrient powerhouse!