Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Rescue Lunch for Chaos Days

What do you do on those chaos days when cooking seems overwhelming? It’s tricky around our house because my kids did not grow up eating sandwiches, and frozen convenience foods are non-existent. For me, a great rescue lunch using simple ingredients from the pantry is hummus.  We serve it with toasted pita bread wedges, carrot sticks and cucumbers for dipping. Finish off with sweetened vanilla yogurt for desert, and you have a great meal.

Here’s a confession to start with: I can’t just follow a recipe when I cook.  Instead I look at a recipe as a point of departure. To me, cooking is a creative undertaking that depends on your mood and instincts at the moment. This means that no dish ever tastes the same even if I make it over and over.  Hummus is an easy recipe that you can vary according to your taste.  This is how I made it last night:


2  16 oz. cans chick peas, drained (Reserve ½ cup of the liquid.)
1 large clove garlic (2 if cloves are small)
3 TBSP lemon juice
3 TBSP olive oil
¼ cup tahini***
½ tsp paprika
½ tsp cumin
½-1 tsp salt (to taste)

Drop the clove of raw garlic into a blender or food processor.  When it is chopped, add the remaining ingredients, including the ½ of liquid from the canned chick peas, and blend until smooth. Spoon the hummus into a shallow bowl. Sprinkle it with paprika and chopped flat leaf parsley, and drizzle with olive oil if desired before serving. (Serve it up straight with no garnish on the chaos days.)

*** I know this would make any purist cringe, but if you cannot find tahini, you can substitute peanut butter, and reduce the amount to 3 TBSP. The taste is different, but hummus with peanut butter is a lot better than no hummus at all!

Other variations:

You can increase the cumin and paprika to 1 tsp. each. If the raw garlic has too much bite for you, use roasted garlic instead.  I often add red pepper paste, one of the greatest culinary blessings Turkey has to offer.

What about you? What’s your favorite rescue lunch or dinner? I’d love some new suggestions.


Nancy said...

I have wanted to make my own hummus for AGES and never have because I can't find tahini here. Thanks for your recipe and for the substitution suggestion. I'm going to try it!

Aunt Michele said...

So hard to come up with last minute "fast food" in a land with few frozen options and hardly anything canned. I try to buy a big box of premade frozen hamburger patties when I can find them and keep some bread in the freezer. Steamed corn meal is a common food here. It's fast and I spruce it up Bahian style with chopped chorizo sausage and scrambled eggs mixed in.

Somehow we survive and somehow my "magic" lunches on wild days are usual edible.

Jamie Jo said...

Good idea. We get stuck in a Mexican food rut, even for the quick days. I do enjoy hummus. We have the same trouble with kids who don't like sandwiches (not having grown up eating them except in dire emergencies), and fewer convenience foods.

Shanda said...

I might try this recipe. My children do not eat sandwiches either but there is always hummus in the house. However, being back in the US, we BUY it!!! I'll try this.
Thank you for the encouraging words on my blog. May God bless you too as you contemplate this stage of your life as well.

OliveTree said...

That is funny so many of you mention your kids don't eat sandwiches either. I guess mine aren't so strange after all!

If you make the hummus with raw garlic, I noticed when I made it this week that by the next day, it had lost a bit of it's bite.