I think it’s a bummer that we treat hummus only as a dip or a condiment. Don’t get me wrong; I’m more than okay with its ubiquity. The fact that I can now snack on my commute home with a grab-and-go pack of roasted garlic hummus and pretzels from the train station kiosk makes my day complete. But I see hummus bound for bigger and better things. Forget the warm-up act; I see hummus playing the main stage.
My husband often speaks of a meal our buddy, J. M. Hirsch (who you should absolutely follow on Twitter), once made for him that was simply a plate of hummus topped with deliciously spiced ground beef and served with torn pita in place of silverware. He waxes poetically about how it was simple, boldly flavored and one of those fun meals that you get to eat with your hands. What more could a guy ask for?
Rife with opportunity to personalize it to your own tastes, meals like this are well-deserved. They shake up the daily routine by bringing in the flavors of a global cuisine that you may not get to experience everyday. Plus, second only to tackling foods eaten on a stick, eating with your hands may just be the most playful thing you do all day long.
Hummus Plate with Spiced Ground Beef
Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 3 minutes
Active Time: 12 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
For the spiced beef:
1 tablespoon olive or vegetable oil
1 1/2 pounds coarsely ground beef
1 teaspoon ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons harissa paste
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
1/2 cup beef stock or water
Salt and ground black pepper
For the hummus:
1 (16- to 19-ounce) can chick peas, drained, divided
3 tablespoons tahini
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 clove garlic, smashed
3 to 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt and ground black pepper
3 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley, for garnish
Whole wheat pita, for serving
1 cup mixed olives, for serving
To prepare the spiced ground beef, place a large sauté pan over medium-high heat with the oil. Add the ground beef to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally to break the meat up, until it begins to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the coriander, cumin, cloves, cinnamon, harissa, and onion to the pan and cook until the spices are aromatic and onions are tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and beef stock or water to the pan and cook, scraping up any bits that may be stuck to the bottom of the pan, until the broth has reduced and thickened, 2 to 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and reserve.
While the beef is cooking, prepare the hummus. Reserve 1/4 cup of chick peas and add the remainder to the bowl of a food processor or jar of a blender along with the tahini, lemon juice and garlic. Pulse the machine several times to chop up all of the ingredients. Turn the machine on and slowly stream the olive oil into the chickpea mixture until the oil is incorporated and the mixture is smooth, about 30 seconds. Season the hummus with salt and pepper and reserve.
To serve, place a scoop of hummus on a plate and then use a spoon to spread it out, making a well in the center. Fill the well with a scoop of the cooked beef. Garnish the beef with parsley and a some of the reserved chickpeas. Serve with the pita and olives.
Patrick W. Decker’s life revolves around food. Always has, probably always will. As a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America and past member of the culinary teams for Food Network stars Rachael Ray, Sandra Lee, Marc Forgione and Bobby Deen, he now works as a content developer and programmer for FoodNetwork.com in NYC by day and a recipe developer at his home in New York’s Hudson Valley by night. You can see what he’s up to by following him on Twitter & Instagram at @patrickwdecker or visiting his website at patrickwdecker.com.