Tuesday, August 29, 2006


Lately I have been into a Mediterranean journey through recipes that I had the pleasure of tasting while visiting friends homes as a young man. Their grandmothers would stuff us on Middle eastern cooking. I tried to pay attention so I could try my hand at making it at home. This is the first of a few of my favorite middle eastern recipes.

Hummus is made from garbanzo beans a.k.a. chickpeas. Dried chickpeas are usually soaked in water overnight then simmered for an hour or more. It is also possible to cook chickpeas in a pressure cooker without the pre-soaking. Personally I go for convenience and speed, so I use canned chickpeas instead.

The chickpeas are ground, using a food processor or hand blender, with olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt, cumin, and tahini. A bit of the water in which the chickpeas were boiled may be added to reach the desired consistency.

Garnish with chopped parsley and roasted pine nuts. Serve with a good flat bread. Hummus goes well with a tabouli salad for a light appetizer course.


  • 3 cloves garlic roughly chopped
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • ¼ cup liquid from the can
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • 14 -15 oz canned chickpeas rinsed and drained
  • ½ cup tahini
  • 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • Toasted Pine Nuts for garnish
  • Chopped Flat Leaf Parsley for garnish


  1. Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender.
  2. Process until smooth, scraping the sides occasionally.
  3. Transfer the hummus to a serving bowl.
  4. Garnish with roasted pine nuts and chopped parsley.
  5. Drizzle Extra Virgin Olive Oil over the top.
  6. Serve with lemon wedges and lots of good pita bread.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Pesto Time

I have patiently waited, watching my herb garden in anticipation, Today was the day I had been waiting for. My basil plant was ready for mass harvest today. Once they start flowering it's time to cut them back and make one of my favorite seasonal treats, pesto.


This classic Italian sauce is easy to make and versatile in usage, I keep it on hand for quick dishes. Pesto is traditionally made with pine nuts, garlic, olive oil, basil, and Parmesan cheese. Pesto can be tossed with pasta, added to soups and salads, or used instead of a tomato based sauce on a pizza.. I had better stop there, we are getting into a completely different post.

Pesto Recipe


  • ¼ cup coarse-crushed roasted pine nuts
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 cups sweet basil leaves (about 4 ounces)
  • ½ cup (2 ounces) grated fresh Parmigiano Reggiano
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher or sea salt


  1. Heat a large dry flat bottomed saute pan over medium heat.
  2. Add the pine nuts to the pan.
  3. Pine nuts burn easily so keep them moving by shaking the pan
  4. Roast until they are fragrant and lightly browned.
  5. Remove the pan from the heat and let them cool.
  6. Put the pine nuts in a ziplock bag and seal
  7. Lightly smash the bag with a heavy skillet to coarsely crush the pine nuts.
  8. Crush and peel the cloves of garlic.
  9. Rough chop the garlic.
  10. Process the pine nuts and garlic until finely minced.
  11. Add the olive oil and pulse three or 4 times.
  12. Add basil, Parmesan cheese, and salt to the processor bowl.
  13. Process until finely minced, scraping down sides.
  14. add more olive oil if you want to make a thinner looser sauce
  15. Store for later by pouring the pesto into an airtight container.
  16. To prevent oxidation add a thin barrier layer of olive oil over the pesto.
  17. Seal the container and store refrigerated for around 1 week.