Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Hummus With Lamb and Pine Nuts

Just one bite of creamy, lemony hummus, warmed and topped with fragrant, flavorful lamb offers up a taste that whispers 'comfort food' in any language. Add some warm pita bread for scooping and you have an awesome appetizer or supper option. There are many more complicated recipes for Hummus and Lamb Kwarma available online (David Lebovitz posted this one recently), but I adapted a simple version found in a favorite Middle Eastern cookbook, An Edible Mosaic by Faith Gorsky. Faith's recipes reflect Syrian family recipes and a wealth of eating experiences in the Middle East, translating it for home cooks everywhere. My pantry held all of the required ingredients, ordinary items, but the combination was deliciously unique.  

Use your favorite hummus recipe if you like, but try it warmed and topped with this crunchy, spicy ground lamb. The resulting dish might tempt you to play with the seasonings and toppings to suit your own taste. Mmmmmm, with some added lemon zest and flat-leaf parsley, maybe a splash or two of harissa, this dish will definitely make more appearances in my kitchen and galley.

Hummus with Lamb and Pine Nuts

For the Hummus:
1 large can chickpeas (2-1/2 cups), drained & liquid reserved
1/4 cup tahini, well stirred
4 Tbs fresh lemon juice (add more to taste)
2 large cloves garlic, minced or crushed (more to taste)
2 Tbs olive oil
4-8 Tbs chickpea liquid, more or less as needed
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp smoky paprika
salt and white pepper to taste (optional)
  1. Prepare & set aside, ready to warm in the microwave before use.
  2. Use a food processor to puree the chickpeas, tahini paste, lemon juice, garlic, olive oil and a few tablespoons of the cooking liquid. Aim for a medium-thick spread, adding more or less liquid one tablespoon at a time as required. 
  3. Stir in the cumin, paprika, salt and white pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. 

For the lamb:
2 Tbs olive oil
1 small onion, finely diced
8-oz lean ground lamb
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground allspice 
1/4 tsp ground clove
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp sumac (or za'atar)
Sprinkle of red pepper flakes (optional)
Several grinds of black peppercorns
2 Tbs toasted pine nuts (plus more for optional topping)
  1. Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat; add the onion and sauté until it begins to soften, about 3 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Add the ground lamb, salt, spices and pepper. Raise the heat to high; cook until meat is fully browned and the onion is tender, about 3 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
  3. Stir in the pine nuts and cook 2 minutes more, stirring occasionally. 
To serve:
Warm the prepared hummus in the microwave; spoon onto a platter or bowl. Use the spoon to create a slight depression in the middle of the hummus. Pour the lamb on top of the warmed hummus. Sprinkle with more pine nuts, if desired, and serve with warmed pita bread wedges for scooping.

Note: hummus and spiced lamb can be prepared ahead and held in the refrigerator for several days. Warm each before serving.

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