Spicy Red Pepper and Cilantro Hummus | Virtually Homemade: Spicy Red Pepper and Cilantro Hummus

Friday, April 22, 2011

Spicy Red Pepper and Cilantro Hummus

I had my first encounter with hummus in Israel, where I lived for 6 months in my junior year of college. I was a food and beverage intern at the Hyatt Regency on Mt. Scopus in Jerusalem. It was a long and often challenging few months. However in retrospect, I cherish this experience as character building and a venue for me to learn about my heritage and experience a culture distinct from my own.

Hummus is a traditional Middle Eastern dish made with chickpeas, tahini (sesame butter), garlic, lemon and olive oil. In Israel it was a staple. Everyday the lunch buffet in the staff cafeteria included hummus and tahini. It can accompany anything – meat, bread, vegetables, rice and any other kind of grain. It’s smooth texture yet tangy flavor are complimentary to many food items. It’s a great option for vegetarians with lots of protein and essential fatty acids.

As well, in my home, hummus is very versatile. I often pack it away in my kids’ lunch boxes, serve it as a dip for dinner guests or spread it on sandwiches as a mayonnaise substitute. It is readily available at your grocery store in a plethora of flavors.

It’s relatively easy to make from scratch. However there are a couple of brands that are so good, it’s almost easier to just purchase. My family prefers Fountain of Health Hummus. The ingredients are simple and they achieve just the right balance between the tartness of the lemon and the richness of the chickpeas and tahini.

Essentially, I also like to use it as a base to create my own hummus flavor concoctions. In the recipe below I add sriracha, roasted red peppers and fresh cilantro. Sriracha is my “go to” hot sauce. Originating in Thailand, it is a thin paste made of chili peppers, distilled vinegar, garlic, salt and sugar. It adds heat and a depth of flavor and was actually named condiment of the year 2010 by Bon Appetite. Cilantro or Coriander leaves are used predominantly in Asian and Mexican cuisine. As heat diminishes their flavor, they are often used raw or added to a dish right before serving. The peppers you can roast yourself or buy a jar that you will find in the pickle section.

Time saving tip:
Purchased hummus
Purchased roasted red peppers

Spicy Red Pepper and Cilantro Hummus

6 oz. prepared hummus
¼ cup roasted red peppers (if store bought, pat dry before using)
¼ cup chopped cilantro (leaves only)
1 teaspoon Sriracha (use 2 teaspoons for more heat)

Place all the ingredients in a food processor or blender and mix until almost smooth.
Serve with pita bread or pita chips and fresh vegetables.

Virtually Homemade