Savory Pumpkin Hummus with Harissa Chickpeas
It has been roughly nine months since my last post. In that time, I finished my dissertation, earned my PhD, and started a new job as a Lecturer in the department I graduated from. Things are busy, but I finally feel like I can carve out time for my personal projects again.
It's nearly 100º in Austin today, but nevertheless, the high holidays I associate with the start of autumn are on their way. They coincide with the busiest time of the school year, so I have not been able to observe the high holidays with my family in over a decade. But Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year, coincides with an academic schedule in a way that just makes sense. In New England by now, the weather would already be cooling off. I would be foraging in the local cemetery for boletes, picking apples, unpacking sweaters and corduroys. Fall is not much of a season here and doesn't hit until November, but I still feel things are changing with the new school year. I try to bring my memories of fall transitions to Austin through my kitchen. I buy my local honey and macintosh apples shipped from upstate New York to make some of my favorite family recipes (see: Bobe's apple pie).
it is the time of year when pumpkin spice finds its way into foods where it surely does not belong. The most egregious, in my opinion, is hummus. If you want to make a sweet chickpea pudding, fine—you do you. But I am sorry, Trader Joe's, you have no business calling it "hummus."
That said, I think there may be a place for pumpkin in hummus, a seasonal treat that compliments the rich, garlicky, savory essence of a good hummus. Canned pumpkin contributes to the silky texture, and the warming spices of ras el hanout evoke fall without the saccharine sweetness of pumpkin spice. This recipe is inspired by a roasted squash and tahini dip from Sami Tamimi's Falastin cookbook. My take is much more of a classic hummus and has the benefit of being made almost entirely from pantry ingredients. I include the harissa chickpeas to make it more of a meal, but you can omit them if you would like.
Serves 2-3 for breakfast or 4-6 as a side.
This is a super easy, can whip up for breakfast on a work day, all pantry ingredients recipe. However, fresh roasted kabocha pumpkin or butternut squash would make an excellent substitute for the canned pumpkin if you are so inclined. Same goes for homemade harissa.
For the hummus:
one 15-oz can of chickpeas
1/3 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup tahini (I like Soom brand)
juice of one lemon
2 cloves garlic
1 tbsp good quality olive oil (I like fair trade canaan)
1 tsp ras el hanout
2+ tablespoons cold water
For the chickpeas:
one 15-oz can of chickpeas
1 tsp neutral oil, like avocado
1-2 tbsp harissa (I like Trader Joe's brand for premade harissa)
1 tsp good quality olive oil (optional, depends on the texture of your harissa).
Rinse the chickpeas in hot water to wash off the canning liquid (this improves the taste and helps remove some of the gas-causing qualities of chickpeas). Put the rinsed chickpeas, pumpkin puree, tahini, lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, and ras al hanout in a blender or food processor. Once the mixture looks like a thick paste, start adding the cold water by the tablespoon. How much you need really depends on the amount of water in your chickpeas, the texture of your tahini, and personal preference. Stop adding water when the hummus reaches your desired level of creaminess. Add salt to taste.
If you want to add the harissa chickpeas, start by rinsing the chickpeas and then letting them sit in a strainer for a few minutes to drip out excess water. Preheat a castiron pan or steel wok over high heat. Grease the inside with the oil (spray oil makes this a bit easier). Add the chickpeas to the pan and cook until the chickpeas start to brown. Turn of the heat. Stir in the harissa. If it is too dry to coat the chickpeas, add a little olive oil.
To serve as a meal, spread a thin layer of the hummus on each plate and then put the harissa chickpeas on top. Garnish with cilantro, toasted sesame seeds, or zaatar, if desired. Serve with warm pita, flatbread, challah, basmati rice...or just eat it with a spoon!