Tuesday, August 30, 2011

burning the crop

When I embarked on my summer of "freedom" in the city--AKA, my summer off from full-time work before beginning two grueling years of graduate school, I planned to construct a full-blown rooftop garden on our humble Brooklyn roof. Nevermind the fact that I know nothing about gardening and have only kept one non-succulent plant alive successfully. I tacked this on to the list of summer goals, along with: do yoga, paint, find furniture and avoid full-time work. Let's say I attacked some of these goals with more ferocity than others.

When I attended the inaugural weekend of Smorgasburg, I found myself at the Brooklyn Grange booth (a full-blown rooftop farm!), buying a tiny, potted pepper plant. I wasn't sure what kind of pepper it was, and sure it might be cheating not to start from seed, but I bought it and planted it on my roof. And it grew, and produced a bounty. Yes, this summer I harvested one sizeable, non descript pepper. To give myself credit, I got going with some chives, tasty basil, tomato and swiss chard. 

 It took me some time to pick the pepper. Was it done growing? What would I do with it? I felt like I had to do the little guy justice. So, I burned him to a crisp. Roasted, rather, and incorporated him into a delicious spicy hummus. 

Try it with your homegrown, or purchased nondescript peppers.

Spicy Roasted Pepper Hummus
  • 2 cups chickpeas, preferably dried and cooked, save 1/4 cup liquid
  • 1/3 cup tahini
  • 2-4 cloves roasted garlic, minced **
  • 1 large jalapeno pepper, or 3 small, roasted and sliced **
  • juice of 2 lemons, or 5 tbsp bottled lemon juice
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Optional: few squirts hot sauce
First, place chickpeas (without extra liquid), peppers and garlic cloves in food processor, grinding and scraping down the sides until smooth paste forms. It's okay if there are some pepper chunks left in there. Next, add lemon juice, salt and about half of the chickpea liquid. Process for about 20-30 seconds, scrape down the sides and then add the tahini, process, then add olive oil. Process. At this point, make a judgement call about the consistency of your hummus. If you prefer a thicker dip, you might be able to call it good. If you prefer a creamier dip, add more chickpea liquid or olive oil and keep going! If interested in upping the spiciness, add in a few squirts of hot sauce (I like Sriracha or Tapatio), which will also change the color of the dip.

**A note on roasting: Go ahead and roast your peppers and garlic cloves at the same time. You don't have to roast the garlic, but I find that it lends a sweeter, less tangy taste. Simply wrap a bulb of garlic in foil and place on a baking sheet in your oven at 400 for about 20 minutes. I just placed the peppers directly onto the baking sheet. They just become nice and charred. Wait for them to cool, unwrap the garlic, peel and mince. Simply slice the pepper. You could also follow these more involved instructions for roasting garlic.