Hummus. It’s the breakout star of the dip world. Once upon a time, it was exotic, but now the packaged hummus industry churns out millions of tubs per year. According to a 2013 WSJ article, that year $350 million worth of the tangy bean dip was purchased by consumers. It was such a big rise in popularity that tobacco farmers started growing chick peas to provide for the burgeoning dip trade.
All good news. Like salsa before it, hummus has successfully mainstreamed. For vegans and omnivores alike, the familiar puree of chick peas, tahini and lemon is a great grab and go option. It’s taken over the dip aisle, with a proliferation in flavors, like red pepper hummus, avocado hummus, there is even a chocolate hummus out there.
Yup, chocolate hummus.
So as someone who used to make buckets of the stuff to sell, I’m thrilled for the hummus category. Couldn’t have happened to a nicer dip.
What is it that makes hummus so very appealing? I think that the combo of a nutty tasting bean, nutty, rich tahini, and tart lemon is as unassailable is the culinary combo world as the combo of cookie and chocolate chips. Everybody responds to hummus, the way we all respond to chocolate chip cookies. They are just perfect combinations.
That said, I like to fool around with that format. Why not try another bean, another nutty paste, and another tangy accent? Obviously, all those brand extensions are about the same thing, giving people another way to enjoy the hummus flavors that have captured our palates.
It is in that spirit that I created this carrot hummus recipe. Adding sweet, steamed carrots gives it a lively orange tint, and creamy white beans pair perfectly with lightly toasted almonds. Lemon for tartness, and a little zip from paprika, and you have a very appealing variation on the hummus theme.
From there, I added a little zazz with a fun presentation, that just happens to please the gluten-free, low carb crowd. This is a fun way to bring even more vegetables to the plate, and it is very summery and refreshing.
If it seems too fussy, you can always just slice cukes on a diagonal to make big “chips” for dipping. But this is really not hard at all, and gives your dip “curb appeal” for miles.
Super easy, super fun. I can see this as a great addition to a backyard spread. Finger food to nosh while the grill heats up, or an easy to eat salad alternative. Look Ma, no fork!
Happy, hummus-y summer to you all!
Carrot Hummus in Cucumber Cups
This is a fine hummus to smear on a bagel, or dip with a pita, too. Just make sure the carrots are tender enough to puree smoothly, for that velvety texture we all love.
Makes about 1 1/2 cups, 3-6 Servings
2 large carrots, chopped to make 1 cup
1/2 cup toasted slivered almonds, divided
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 cup cooked navy beans, drained
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon salt
4 large cucumbers
Set up a steamer, and steam the chopped carrots until tender, about 10 minutes. Let cool. In a food processor, mince half of the toasted almonds and garlic until finely chopped. Add the carrots and navy beans and process until smooth. Scrape down and puree a few times for a creamy texture. Add the lemon juice, olive oil, paprika and salt and process until smooth.
For the cucumber cups, trim the tips off each end of the cukes, then slice on a diagonal starting an inch above the end, and make the next slice straight across ( see photo above) to make two flat bottomed, angled-topped pieces of cuke. Continue and slice all the cucumbers.
Use a small spoon to scoop out the seeds, leaving a base intact to hold the hummus. Scrape the hummus into a sandwich bag, then seal it and slice the corner off to make a piping bag. Squeeze the bag as you hold the tip in the cucumber cup, filling each with hummus.
Arrange the cucumber cups on a platter and drizzle with a bit of olive oil and sprinkle with paprika, garnish with the remaining sliced almonds.