Are you hummus’d out?
On the one hand, I think yes. Hummus is a weekly grocery staple for me and it only takes a few appearances over canapé season to send me over the edge.
On the other hand, I think WTF? No, of course not. It’s a weekly grocery staple and is the only thing at shitty drinks events that prevents me from throwing supermarket oven ready mini-hamburgers and bhajis right back at the generous hosts.
Very occasionally, though, a teeny bit of variation is welcome. I like lacing hummus with a hit of quality smoky, sweet paprika and a few chilly flakes, or a good sprinkling of Nigella seeds. Always plenty of extra peppery extra virgin olive oil too.
I also (whisper it), enjoy bastardised versions of the chickpea and tahini based spread. Ottolenghi’s butternut squash version is outstanding. Give it a go if you haven’t already. And it got me thinking about trying out another roast veg alternative – cauliflower.*
There’s lots of water in cauliflower, so it steams and softens as it roasts. The highly underrated vegetable also carries spice beautifully, so this dip / spread has base notes of cumin, coriander and turmeric. Milk and yoghurt smooth out the puree and lemon, roasted garlic and tahini bring it back to the original hummus starting point.
It’s very simple and makes a nice change. Use it as a drinks party or pre-dinner dip – liven it up with pomegranate, parsley and a good glug of oil, and save the green bits of the cauliflower for dipping purposes. Or keep it in your fridge for 3 days or so for sandwiches and snacks. It’ll stiffen up over time, so you might want to add a touch of yoghurt when you come round to eating it.
*Technically, ‘hummus’ means ‘chickpeas’, so any hummus without them, well, isn’t. But let’s brush over semantics for now …
This recipe is from a piece I wrote for Borough Market’s website on cooking and eating over the Christmas and New Year period. Read it here.
Suits pre dinner snacking for 12-16. Keeps well in the fridge.1 cauliflower (approx 850g) 4tbsp good quality virgin rape seed oil 2tbsp light olive oil / sunflower oil 3g ground cumin 1.5g ground coriander 1.5g cinnamon powder 1.5g turmeric 1g chilli powder 2g sea salt 3 cloves garlic (whole) 80g milk 40g tahini paste 30g lemon 160g Greek yoghurt
Heat the oven at 180C.
Remove the green leaves from the cauliflower, carefully cutting them from the base with a small knife. Keep all but the biggest or gnarliest ones – they taste great and can be eaten raw, for example as a dip for the hummus.
Cut the cauliflower florets and the more solid white parts into 3-4 cm segments. Put in a roasting tray and pour the oil over. Give the cauliflower a good toss so each piece is glistening. Then sprinkle over all of the spices and salt and toss again, to ensure even seasoning. Give the cloves of garlic a little squeeze with the back of a large knife, but leave in their skins. Pop into cauliflower and roast for 60 minutes, turning the contents of the tray every fifteen minutes or so.
Remove from the oven and leave to cool to room temperature. Pick off the skins from the garlic (but leave the flesh in the mix). The cauliflower will be soft, slightly browned and will have lost a bit of weight in the cooking process. Weigh what you’ve got – the next steps assume a weight of around 550-600g. If it’s more, just up quantities a bit.
Put the cauliflower in a food processor. Blitz thoroughly. Then add the milk, tahini paste and lemon juice. Blitz for another minute – until the puree becomes smooth. Add half the yoghurt and blitz a bit more. Fold in the remaining yoghurt using a spoon or a spatula. Check for seasoning – add more salt and / or lemon juice if you wish.
Keeps for a couple of days in the fridge. It’ll stiffen a little – add a spoon or two of yoghurt to loosen it.