Hummus with Spanish Paprika
When my vegetarian daughter departed for a semester in Madrid, I was concerned about how she would feed herself.
The last time I visited the Spanish capital, Serrano ham, served in paper cones from kiosks on every corner, seemed to be the only snack that anyone ate.
I needn’t have worried. She is doing just fine on a diet of churros con chocolate, patatas bravas, and croquetas de queso. Yesterday, she sent me a photo of her lunch, a bowl of spinach and chickpeas. Partly because I miss her and partly because I’m jealous, I dug a can of chickpeas out of my pantry. I also retrieved a zipper-lock bag of Spanish smoked paprika that I keep in the freezer. I decided to whip them together to make some Spanish-style hummus.
Many varieties of chickpeas are cultivated in Spain, including the revered Garbanzo de Fuentesuaco from the province of Zamora, which has been given PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) status by the government, signaling that it has qualities attributable to its geographical origin. I could trace the origin of my low-status Goya-brand chickpeas only as far as aisle 4 of the Cutchogue King Kullen, but they would have to do.
You are probably familiar with Hungarian paprika, the fourth most popular spice in the world. This paprika is made from toasted and ground peppers and ranges from mild to mildly spicy. You’ve used it to decorate deviled eggs and give color to marinades and spice rubs. Spanish smoked paprika is made by drying pimiento peppers, smoking them over an oak fire, and then grinding them. It’s deep red, not bright red like Hungarian paprika. It is also instantly recognizable by its intense, smoky aroma. Traditionally, it is used to flavor Spanish chorizo and paella. It can be hard to find out here, but is easily obtained on Amazon. (Add some Korean chili powder and some Aleppo pepper to your order and you will never cook a boring dish again.)
Minutes after opening my can of chickpeas, I had a creamy, smoky, lemony spread that is an excellent source of plant-based protein. I ate it with some pita chips before dinner. But hummus isn’t just a dip. It can be used in a number of ways to spice up your meals:
In Scrambled Eggs or as an Omelet Filling: On its own or with chopped tomato and avocado, hummus adds flavor and nutritional value to eggs.
On Pasta: Dilute it with some pasta cooking water and then toss with pasta, chopped olives, parsley, and lemon zest for an easy meal.
On a BLT: Tastier and more nutritious than mayo when used as a sandwich spread.
On a Baked Potato: Add a dollop of hummus and a drizzle of olive oil to transform your potato into a vegetarian main course.
In Salad Dressing: Whisk together 2 tablespoons hummus, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, and 2 tablespoons olive oil and toss with some romaine, sliced radishes, red onion, black olives, and crumbled feta to make a tasty Greek salad.
¼ cup well-stirred tahini
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil plus more for serving
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 tsp. Spanish smoked paprika plus more for sprinkling
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1. Reserve a dozen or so chickpeas and combine the remaining chickpeas, tahini, 2 tablespoons olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, 1 teaspoon paprika, and cayenne in the work bowl of a food processor, and process until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl once or twice as necessary.
2. With the food processor on, add some of the reserved cooking liquid, a tablespoon at a time, until your hummus is at the consistency that you like (I like mine on the loose side, so my pita chips don’t break when I attempt to scoop it up). Scrape the hummus into a bowl, season with salt, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for up to 2 days until ready to serve.
3. Drizzle the hummus with additional olive oil, scatter the reserved chickpeas on top, and sprinkle with smoked paprika before serving with pita chips.
To make your own pita chips, preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Split a couple of pita breads into two single-layer rounds. Cut each round into wedges, and spread the pieces on a baking sheet. Spray with olive oil, turn over and spray again., and then sprinkle with salt. Bake until golden, turning the wedges once, 12 to 20 minutes depending on how thick they are. Let them cool completely on the baking sheet before storing in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.
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