Cucumber Basil Hummus

There were a few snow flurries in the air when I drove to the airport this morning, but it’s fully summer in Austin so I’m slightly in climate shock. May is the Juneau month of Bozeman’s year: often overcast, windy, and with varying seasons of precipitation. It’s a test of patience waiting for the skies to clear and the trails to dry, but on the plus side, we can always count on actual summer to find us in June, unlike my hometown.

Cucumber Basil Hummus {{Baking Bytes}}

In anticipation of barbecues and picnic lunches, here’s a nice simple hummus recipe for your repertoire. Last week’s lemon and garlic version is perfect for spring, but for a slightly milder experience today’s recipe is a delicious option.

Cucumber Basil Hummus {{Baking Bytes}}

Crisp cucumber brings a refreshing lightness to the dip while maintain a fairly neutral flavor profile. Basil is my favorite herb to pair with cucumber, and it’s a great way to use up fresh herbs from the store or your garden, especially when you don’t quite have enough for pesto. No basil? Thyme or dill would be excellent here as well depending on the other items around the table.

Cucumber Basil Hummus {{Baking Bytes}}

This hummus is light and creamy, with pleasant flecks of green. Lovely as a standard dip, of course, but also a perfect addition to a wrap or sandwich for a packable lunch. A batch keeps several days in the fridge so make some for appetizers and use up the leftovers for lunches and snacks. It’s perfect as the spread for a dairy-free cucumber sandwich/wrap, paired with your favorite toppings and protein. Vegan? Add spinach and zucchini and some extra chickpeas. Vegetarian? Maybe include some egg or parmesan. Pescatarian? Include smoked salmon too. Omnivorous? Chicken or turkey is the perfect lean protein to use here. Wrap them all in bread or a tortilla rounded with a drizzle of Sweet Basil Balsamic Vinegar from Olivelle and you have a phenomenal lunch at your fingertips.

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Whether you go for the simple snack or build up a wrap, this hummus is sure to please. Give it a whirl and let me know how you put it to use!

Cucumber Basil Hummus

Adapted from Vegan Family Recipes

Ingredients

1 (15oz) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/2 large cucumber, diced (about 3/4 cup)
2 Tbsp tahini
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp (Caramelized Garlic) olive oil
1/4 rounded tsp (Roasted Garlic) sea salt
1 large clove garlic, to taste
2-4 large basil leaves

Directions

  1. Add all ingredients to a food processor and process until smooth.
  2. Taste and adjust salt/herbs accordingly. If the hummus is too thick, add additional oil or cucumber.
  3. Drizzle with additional oil and serve with sliced veggies, pita, or crackers. (Also excellent in veggie or chicken wraps!)
  4. Store leftovers in the fridge for up to two weeks.

Squash & Lemon Spiral Tart

Springtime means lemon in my brain, so when I saw this spiral tart from Bunsen Burner Bakery I knew I wanted to incorporate that flavor. A lemon hummus seemed the perfect accompaniment to a series of veggies and I set out to test this hypothesis.

Squash & Lemon Spiral Tart {{Baking Bytes}}

The bright flavor of lemon is complimented by a generous amount of garlic. I opted to use my hefty supply Olivelle products but you can use standard varieties if needed. The turmeric lifts the yellow coloring up a notch which isn’t necessary for the tart but it’s beautiful for a party platter. You’ll have plenty of leftover hummus to enjoy on its own, and it provides a lovely creamy base for this tart without any additional sogginess.

Squash & Lemon Spiral Tart {{Baking Bytes}}

My trusty no-fail pie crust recipe is the base for this delicious dish. Since I don’t have a tart pan (something I should probably rectify, pronto) I used a standard 9″ pie plate, which works just fine. I love this pie crust recipe because it never gets over browned, but you can easily substitute your own go-to pastry here if you wish.

Squash & Lemon Spiral Tart {{Baking Bytes}}

The flaky pastry and crisp lemon flavor of the hummus blend beautifully into a base for all your veggies of choice. I chose zucchini, carrot, summer squash, and eggplant, but feel free to use whatever you have laying around the kitchen that you can slice with a mandolin. You’ll want veggies thin enough to bend, but no thinner. On my mandolin I used the thinnest setting for the carrot and the next one up for the rest of the vegetables, but definitely do a test slice to see what makes sense for yours.

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Concentric rings of vegetable goodness are pleasing to the eye and the tongue. Finished with a bit of rosemary (or your favorite herb) for a spark of flavor and a pretty garnish, this tart is a prefect addition to your next brunch. This tart is inherently vegan (presuming you use a vegan pie crust) but for the rest of us a sprinkle of goat cheese is the perfect topping for each piece. To round out the meal, I enjoyed mine with a side of eggs and fruit.

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This tart would be sure to please at a Mother’s Day brunch, or to brighten any regular day too. If you have any leftovers, they are excellent cold or reheated in the oven, so be sure to enjoy every last bite!

Squash & Lemon Spiral Tart

Inspired by Bunsen Burner Bakery
Makes one 9″ tart

Ingredients

pastry for a single-crust pie

1 medium zucchini
1 small eggplant
1 small yellow squash
3 large carrots
1 Tbsp (Caramelized Garlic ) olive oil

1/2 cup lemon garlic hummus (below)

1-2 tsp fresh rosemary or other herb

lemon garlic hummus (adapted from Well and Full)
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
3 Tbsp (Caramelized Garlic or Sicilian Lemon) olive oil (I used 2 Tbsp Garlic and 1 Tbsp Lemon)
2 Tbsp tahini
1-3 cloves garlic (depending on if you’re using infused oil)
zest and juice from 1 large lemon
1/2 tsp (Garlic) salt
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. Make ahead: add all hummus ingredients to a food processor, starting with half the lemon juice, and process until smooth. Taste and add additional lemon juice (for flavor) or oil (for consistency) as needed. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  2. Gently lay pastry in a 9″ pie plate or tart pan. Trim and crimp the edges, as desired. Refrigerate pastry for 15 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  4. Prick pastry generously all over with a fork (or use pie weights if you prefer) and bake for 15 minutes. Set aside to cool while you prepare the veggies.
  5. Use a mandolin to thinly slice all the veggies. (On mine I used setting 2 for the squash and eggplant, and setting 1 for the carrots.) Add all the slices to a large bowl and use your hands to gently toss in olive oil. Don’t add too much oil because the eggplant likes to soak it all up!
  6. Retrieve the pastry and spread 1/2 cup of hummus evenly along the bottom.
  7. Starting from the outside, layer the strips of veggies in whatever order you like; I opted for a repeating pattern of concentric circles but it’s totally up to you.
  8. Spray with olive oil (or lightly brush it on) and sprinkle with rosemary or herb of choice.
  9. Bake for 45 minutes or until vegetables are tender and starting to crisp, and crust is a golden brown. If necessary (it wasn’t for me) you can cover the crust edges with foil if they are browning too quickly.
  10. Serve warm, optionally topped with goat cheese. Goes great with a side of eggs and fruit!
  11. Store leftovers in the fridge. I suspect it’d last about 3 days but I can’t confirm because we ate it all before then. Enjoy chilled or reheat in the [toaster] oven at 300 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 minutes.

Turmeric Lentil Soup

We’ve officially entered spring here in Montana, with sunny skies and temperatures in the 40s. I’m confident (and hopeful) we will still get a few snowstorms but I am also happy about clear roads and only needing light layers for bike commuting. While we wait for the inevitable heat to arrive, there is still time to enjoy a few more soup recipes.

Turmeric Lentil Soup {{Baking Bytes}}

With a bag of lentils in the pantry begging to be used up, and a hankering for the flavors of curry, this entree fit the bill perfectly. A light sweetness from the carrots is brightened in both color and flavor by the magic of turmeric, and a little heat from ginger and red pepper flakes rounds out every mouthful. Pureed soups can be a bit odd in texture, but the creaminess of the coconut milk balances it nicely. It is perfect topped with a scoop of rice and a sprinkle of red pepper flakes, and gave my crafting buddies and an excuse to try making homemade naan. (Verdict: yum)

Turmeric Lentil Soup {{Baking Bytes}}

I doubled this recipe and put it in the slow cooker to avoid standing over the stove, but it comes together in less than 30 minutes in a pot. Leftovers are great and surprisingly versatile. You can continue on the bowl of soup method, of course, but it’s also excellent treated more as a sauce on a giant pile of rice (M’s preference), or for a Buddha bowl if you’re looking to amp up the produce and lighten the meal a bit.

As is, this recipe is completely vegan, but if you’re interested in a omnivorous protein boost, thinly sliced steak or chicken is a delicious addition. (M opted to grill it with a bit of curry powder, which turned out excellent.) For the vegetarian folks, it also pairs nicely with a fried or soft-boiled egg, and works just as well for breakfast in this fashion as it does dinner. Lastly, if you end up with just a bit left, whisk it with a little olive oil and use it as a fun salad dressing.

Turmeric Lentil Soup {{Baking Bytes}}

This recipe is quick and easy and, with the exception of fresh ginger, comprised entirely of ingredients we nearly always have on hand. Surprisingly filling and flavorful, I’m planning to add it to the repertoire all year long.

Carrot & Lentil Soup

Adapted from Budget Bytes
Servies 4-6

Ingredients

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 small yellow onion, diced (about 1 cup)
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1-2 Tbsp freshly grated ginger

1/2 Tbsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

3-4 carrots, chopped
1 cup lentils (uncooked)1
3-4 cups water2

1 (13.5oz) can coconut milk
1 tsp salt, to taste

1-2 cups jasmine rice, uncooked

Directions

  1. In a large pot over medium heat, warm the olive oil.
  2. Add onion, garlic, and ginger, and sauté until onions are softened and translucent.
  3. Stir in turmeric and red pepper, and cook for another minute.
  4. Add carrots, lentils and water. Bring to a boil and simmer on low heat until carrots are softened, 15-20 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, cook the rice according to package directions.
  6. Stir in the coconut milk and salt and use an immersion blender to puree to desired texture.
  7. Taste add extra spices if necessary.
  8. For the slow cooker: optionally do steps 1-3 and then add all ingredients except coconut milk to the crock. Cook on high for 2-4 hours, then stir in coconut milk and puree as desired.
  9. Serve hot, with a side of rice and naan; refrigerate leftovers.

Notes

To help avoid slight greenish tinge you see in my soup, use red or yellow lentils.

For a thicker soup, use three or so cups of water. For a thinner soup (more akin to a curry), use the full four cups.

Pear & Pomegranate Winter Salad

Although the blogosphere doesn’t always advertise as such, winter is just as good for salads as the heat of summer. I do eat fewer entree salads in the winter (unless it’s a sautéed steak version) but we nearly always have a side salad with dinner. With different produce available it’s a great time to mix up the flavors a bit and give your standard toppings a break.

Pomegranate makes its debut in late fall, and is often used for everything from smoothies to desserts. With a tart flavor and saturated color, it’s also a perfect topping to brighten both the flavor and aesthetic of a winter salad. My favorite combination is with pears, but green apples, oranges or blood oranges, and Asian pears are all delightful pairings.

Pear & Pomegranate Salad {{Baking Bytes}}

For crunch and a dash of protein, sliced almonds or toasted pumpkin seeds are my favorite additions. They are both neutral enough to blend with nearly everything, and add just enough texture to each bite.

Goat cheese is my go-to for almost everything, but for a punchier flavor feta is a great choice. A crumbly cheese works best but the palate is very versatile if chevré isn’t your thing. For the dairy-free folks, this salad is also excellent sans cheese entirely.

Pear & Pomegranate Salad {{Baking Bytes}}

Lastly, a good quality balsamic vinegar is key here. I personally rarely use legitimate salad dressings and just dress mine with one of my large collection of Olivelle balsamic vinegars. Crisp Anjou Pear Balsamic Vinegar is my favorite for this particular salad, but a plain barrel-aged balsamic, anything with rosemary, or your favorite more neutral vinaigrette would also do nicely. I do recommend using a more viscous vinegar or a reduction to allow for a better coating.

Pear & Pomegranate Salad {{Baking Bytes}}

Brighten your dinner table with this healthy and delicious salad that’s easy enough for every day, and fancy enough for holiday parties.

Pear & Pomegranate Winter Salad

Serves 4

Ingredients

5 oz baby spinach (or more, to taste)
1/4 cup Olivelle Crisp Anjou Pear Balsamic Vinegar1

1/2 medium pear, thinly sliced
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
1/4 cup toasted pumpkin seeds or sliced almonds
4oz goat cheese

Directions

  1. In a serving bowl, add spinach and vinegar and gently toss to coat.
  2. Reserving 1-2 tablespoons of each, add the pomegranate seeds and pumpkin seeds or almonds. Add half the goat cheese and gently toss to combine.
  3. Arrange the pear on top of the salad, then garnish with remaining pomegranate seeds, pumpkin seeds or almonds, and goat cheese. Drizzle with addition vinegar or a sprinkle of freshly ground pepper, if desired.
  4. Enjoy promptly.

Notes

If preferred, you can substitute any dark balsamic vinegar or reduction, or your favorite rosemary vinaigrette. Barrel-aged vinegars are my favorite here!

Protein Porridge

Happy 2019, folks. I hope everyone had a wonderful year, but if not, I hope this coming one is everything you hoped 2018 would be. I am not much of a resolution setter, but I am a huge fan of goals and personal challenges, and also a numbers person. Last year I tried 76 new recipes, shared 36 posts with you lovely readers, started an Instagram, tried and liked a lower carb lifestyle, discovered the magic that is a spiralizer, and went to several difference food-related classes and events, including learning how to make vodka infusions and homemade sausage. I am looking forward to putting those last two things to good use this year, and sharing them with all of you.

One of my December challenges was to keep a food log, in which I write down all the things I eat every day. It’s an analog version so obviously not a calorie tracker, but it makes me stop and think before eating and helps me to choose healthier options, especially during the food cluster that is the holiday season. I feel very successful this year, navigating lots of deliciousness in healthy ways without feeling like I deprived myself of seasonal treats.  Whether, like me, you are looking to maintain a good thing, or perhaps to start anew, this easy peasy breakfast is a great way to start the day.

Protein Porridge {{Baking Bytes}}

In August when I went lower carb, I basically stopped eating my go-to breakfast of banana peanut butter oatmeal. Since it would’ve been half my carbs for the day, I opted for yogurt parfait and chia pudding and probably unhealthy amounts of eggs. As the weather cooled, however, I found myself missing my warm bowl of morning oats even more. I am no longer tracking my macros, but I’m still opting to do lower carb and higher protein whenever possible, so I set out to find an appropriate winter option. Patterning off my summer recipes, I kept the chia and hemp I’ve become accustomed to and added a few oats for volume. Quick oats work best since the hemp and chia don’t need much time to cook, but lightly blended old-fashioned oats works great too. (I tried it once without grinding them and didn’t care for the textural juxtaposition, but you can nix the grinding process if you don’t mind it.) Warm, cozy, filling, and even faster at cooking, this is my new favorite way to start a chilly morning.

Protein Porridge {{Baking Bytes}}

Even without the boosts this recipe has about 12 grams of protein, but I nearly double that with peanut butter powder and/or protein powder. I personally like the peanut butter powder best since it doesn’t affect the texture and adds a nice peanuty flavor with less fat than regular peanut butter (of which there is already plenty from the hemp and chia). You can use up to 1/4 cup depending on your calorie needs, although I typically use two tablespoons. Alternatively, you can use your favorite protein powder. This is a great option if you’re allergic peanuts or using mix-ins that aren’t typically paired with peanut flavor. Don’t add more than two tablespoons though (about half a scoop), because the resulting texture will be noticeably grainy and a little strange.

Protein Porridge {{Baking Bytes}}

Shockingly (jokes), my go-to mix-ins are half a banana and cinnamon, which pairs nicely with my peanut butter powder. Most fruits are great for this, and it’s a good way to use frozen produce as well. Just heat the produce first and then mix in the rest of the ingredients. If you’re not a peanut butter person (weird), I’ve listed a few other varieties that are excellent with or without protein powder. I also typically stir in a little plain yogurt to add that creaminess, or just actual heavy cream when I’m feeling more decadent. You can 100% skip this if you are dairy-free, or use your favorite non-dairy substitute. Although I don’t usually add it, a teaspoon or two of maple syrup is a nice addition for the more tart berries or options like pumpkin that are not inherently sweet.

Protein Porridge {{Baking Bytes}}

You can easily mix together all the dry ingredients in individual portions, then just add your mix-ins and water and you’re ready to go. I like to prep mine in 8oz containers so I can use it to measure the appropriate amount of water if I’m not at home. Additionally, nix the fruit entirely (but maybe up the spices) for a camping-friendly instant porridge that just requires hot water.

Get your protein in a cozy porridge and start your morning warm and happy. Give it a try and share your favorite mix-ins in the comments!

Protein Porridge

makes one serving

Ingredients

basic porridge
1/4 cup quick oats1
2 Tbsp chia seeds
2 Tbsp hemp seeds
2-4 Tbsp peanut butter powder OR 1 Tbsp natural peanut butter (optional)
2 Tbsp protein powder (optional)
6-8 oz water

2 Tbsp plain Greek yogurt OR 1/2 Tbsp heavy cream (optional)
1 tsp maple syrup (optional)

flavor ideas with peanut butter
1/2 banana, mashed + 1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup blueberries, mashed + 1/8 tsp cardamom

flavor ideas without peanut butter
1/2 cup peaches, mashed + 1/4 tsp cinnamon + pinch of nutmeg
1/2 cup pumpkin puree + 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut + coconut cream instead of yogurt

Directions

  1. If using fruit, mash it into the bottle of a microwaveable bowl.
  2. Add oats, seeds, peanut butter, protein powder (if using), spices of choice, and water. Stir until well combined.
  3. Microwave on high for about 2-3 minutes (2:20 in my microwave is just how I like it) OR use boiling water and let sit, covered, until thickened.
  4. Stir in yogurt and/or maple syrup, if desired.
  5. Enjoy immediately.

Notes

You can also use 1/4 cup old-fashioned oats, lightly ground in a blender. I often do this method since we always have regular oatmeal on the counter for M. Also, if you are gluten-free, use certified oats to keep this recipe up to par.