Chef Ofir Arbel and Eitan Oram

Hummus chef brings Acre to Tarzana [VIDEO]


Ofir Arbel, the head chef at Hummus Bar and Grill, has a few fond memories involving hummus from his time growing up in Israel. When he and his teenage buddies would finish up a night of partying at 4 or 5 a.m., they’d often head to a hummus restaurant to eat until the booze was all soaked up and they were ready to sleep away the morning.

In general though, “I almost didn’t touch hummus,” said during a recent interview. In his Ashkenazi family, it just wasn’t a staple.

 

That all changed when he immigrated to the San Fernando Valley and took over the kitchens at a Tarzana hummus joint that’s become a cultural institution for the Los Angeles Israeli American community and beyond. Now, it’s hummus every morning, and on nights and weekends: Arbel tastes each batch to assure quality.

On May 2, Arbel will be interviewed on stage at Leammle’s Town Center in Encino after a screening of “Hummus! The Movie,” a film that follows the lives and journeys of several hummus restaurateurs in Israel. He’ll be joined by Mitch Julis, one of the movie’s producers, with Jewish Journal staff writer Eitan Arom moderating.

During a recent visit with a reporter and videographer from the Journal, Arbel produced plate after plate of every manner of hummus, salad and meat dish.

There was hummus with ground beef, hummus with mushrooms and hummus with whole garbanzo beans; there was creamy chopped liver, a Turkish bell pepper salad, two kinds of baba ghanoush, corn salad and more; and of course, there was red wine to wash it all down.

When this reporter protested he couldn’t possibly eat another bite, Arbel countered, “It’s really insulting — you have to try a main dish,” as if three types of hummus and about a dozen salads didn’t constitute a main dish.

Ofir summoned three plates of meat skewers, which to everybody’s surprise were quickly consumed. By the time the kanafe was finished, a desert based on shredded filo dough, the entire company was ready for a good, long nap.

Hummus Bar and Grill is located on 18743 Ventura Boulevard in Tarzana and is open daily from 11 a.m. to 12 a.m., and till 1 a.m. on Saturdays.

For more information on the film screening and interview, visit lajfilmfest.org.

Shakshuka goals. Photo courtesy of Judy Zeidler.

Liberate your taste buds with these savory Independence Day dishes


Yom HaAtzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day, is one of the nation’s most important holidays. Many people celebrate with parties or singing and dancing in the streets. Others display the Israeli flag prominently on homes and cars. 

But everyone celebrates with food.

One of my favorite Israeli dishes is Shakshuka. The basic ingredients are poached eggs in a spicy tomato sauce, combined with harissa, cumin and paprika. Some refer to it as the Jewish “Breakfast of Champions.” 

It is a North African dish that now has become a staple in some of the most expensive and trendy restaurants in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Los Angeles and New York, anyplace where good Sephardic Jewish cuisine can be enjoyed. One of the restaurants that is best known today for its Shakshuka is Dr. Shakshuka in Jaffa, although in West Los Angeles, we happily order the meal, served with tomato-cucumber salad and warm pita bread, at Habayit, a restaurant on West Pico Boulevard.

I still remember our first trip to Israel and some of my other favorite dishes served for breakfast. They include Moroccan Carrot Salad, a combination of carrots (boiled, but still a little crunchy) tossed with cilantro, cumin, paprika and ginger that puts your taste buds on alert.

Eggplant with Tahini makes good use of a versatile vegetable that is much neglected in this country. Beautiful, dark purple eggplants are used in many recipes throughout Israel. The delicate yet pungent flavor is great seasoned with garlic, olive oil and salt.  

And, of course, you can’t visit Israel without tasting an assortment of Hummus. This simple, wonderfully flavorful dip or spread is made from garbanzos (chickpeas) and tahini (sesame seed paste). Its texture is velvety, rich and firm enough to scoop up with wedges of pita bread or crisp vegetables. The taste is robust, nutlike, garlicky and so satisfying that you won’t be able to stop eating it.

Combined, all of this adds up to the perfect meal to serve on Israel Independence Day! 

SHAKSHUKA

5 tablespoons olive oil

1 small onion, peeled and diced

3 garlic cloves, crushed

5 to 6 large tomatoes, peeled and diced (or about 3 cups
canned crushed tomatoes)

3 tablespoons tomato paste

2 to 3 tablespoons harissa

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

2 tablespoons paprika

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

6 to 8 eggs

 In a large, heavy skillet, heat olive oil and sauté onion and garlic until onion begins to soften.

Slowly add the tomatoes and tomato paste and simmer over low heat to blend.  Add the harissa, cumin, paprika, salt and pepper to taste. Simmer the mixture for 30 to 40 minutes.

Crack the eggs, one at a time, directly over the tomato mixture, making sure to space them evenly over the sauce. Cover the pan and simmer for 5 to 7 minutes. Do not let the egg yolks become hard.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.     

MOROCCAN CARROT SALAD

4 cups water with 1 teaspoon salt

2 bay leaves

1 pound carrots, sliced 1/8-inch thick

1 cup white wine vinegar

1 cup olive oil

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1 tablespoon minced onion

1 tablespoon minced parsley

1 tablespoon minced cilantro

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 1/2 teaspoons paprika

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1 tablespoon tomato paste

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

In a large saucepan, bring 4 cups salted water and the bay leaves to a boil over high heat. Add carrots, return to a boil, then remove from heat. Drain carrots, rinse them with cold water and transfer to a serving dish.

In a food processor or blender, combine the vinegar, olive oil, garlic, onion, parsley, cilantro, cumin, paprika, ginger and tomato paste blend. Gently stir the mixture into the carrots. Season with salt and pepper and marinate in the refrigerator for 1 hour. 

Makes 8 servings.

EGGPLANT WITH TAHINI

1 large eggplant

1 medium onion, finely chopped, juice
     squeezed out and discarded

1 cup finely chopped parsley

1/2 cup tahini (sesame seed paste)

2 to 3 tablespoons lemon juice

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 teaspoons water

Salt to taste

Dash of cayenne pepper

Parsley sprigs for garnish 

Preheat the oven to 400 F.

Cut the eggplant in half lengthwise and place it cut side down on a baking sheet lined with foil. Bake it until its skin is charred and the inside is tender, about 20 minutes. Let the eggplant cool; peel it and chop finely. Place it in a mixing bowl, add the onion and parsley, and blend well.

In a separate bowl, stir together the 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice, garlic and water until well blended. Stir the tahini mixture into the eggplant mixture. Add salt to taste and cayenne pepper. Stir in more lemon juice to taste. Garnish with parsley.  

Makes about 3 cups.

HUMMUS

From “The Gourmet Jewish Cook” by
Judy Zeidler

1  (15 ounce) can garbanzos, with liquid

1 cup tahini (sesame seed paste)

1/2 cups lemon juice

4 garlic cloves, peeled

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/3 cup olive oil

6 fresh parsley sprigs, stemmed

1 to 2 teaspoons salt

Place the garbanzos in a processor or blender and process until coarsely pureed. Add the tahini, lemon juice, garlic and cumin, and process until smoothly pureed. Add olive oil in a thin stream and continue blending. Blend in the parsley leaves and l teaspoon of salt. Add additional salt to taste. Serve with hot pita bread and sliced vegetables, such as carrots, zucchini or mushrooms. 

Makes about 4 cups.


Judy Zeidler is a food consultant, cooking teacher and author of 10 cookbooks, including “Italy Cooks” (Mostarda Press, 2011). Her website is judyzeidler.com.

WATCH: Searching for hummus in a tense Old City of Jerusalem


Harvey Stein is an Israeli-American filmmaker living in Jerusalem. His feature documentary “A Third Way – Settlers and Palestinians as Neighbors” will be released in February, 2016. You can find out more about his work at: www.jerusalemny.com/athirdway

Israeli hummus restaurant gives Jews and Arabs 50% off for eating together


Can a shared love of hummus bring Jews and Arabs together? An Israeli restaurant near the coastal city of Netanya is offering 50 percent discounts on hummus for tables with both Jews and Arabs.

A manager of the Hummus Bar, located in Kfar Vitkin, told the Times of Israel that “several” tables of Jews and Arabs have taken advantage of the offer since it began Oct. 13.

“By us we don’t have Arabs! But we also don’t have Jews…By us we’ve got human beings!” the restaurant posted on Facebook. “And real excellent Arab hummus! And great Jewish falafel!”

The move was motivated by the growing unrest across Israel in the aftermath of weeks of violent attacks by Palestinian and Jewish extremists. The latest attack – a shooting in a Beersheba bus station that left one dead and 11 wounded – came Sunday night.

“If there’s anything that can bring together these peoples, it’s hummus,” manager Kobi Tzafrir told the Times of Israel.

Listeria in hummus prompts national recall by Sabra


The presence of potentially deadly listeria in several samples of hummus has prompted a national recall by Virginia-based Sabra Dipping Co. of 30,000 cases of Classic Hummus.

Inspectors with the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development learned of the possible contamination by listeria monocytogenes after routine inspections March 30 at a Kroger in Port Huron, according to Jennifer Holton, MDARD spokeswoman.

Read more at USA Today.

Japanese culinary curiosity gives hummus moment in the rising sun


At the end of his 13-hour workday, Hidehiko Egata takes a seat at the bar at his regular eatery in this city’s upscale Shibuya neighborhood.

A senior adviser at a local financial firm, Egata sips sake and nibbles on traditional Japanese pickles as he chats with the owner in Japanese. Then he orders his usual dish: hummus topped with warm chickpeas, tahini and olive oil.

“I first ate hummus a few years ago on the other side of town,” said Egata, a slender man in his 50s who keeps fit by practicing Japanese martial arts daily. “I found that it was more healthy than my usual dinners then. It was filling, but it didn’t make me tired the way a noodle dish would. When this place opened, it became my regular spot.”

This place is Ta-im, an intimate 16-seater that is one of no fewer than eight Israeli restaurants to open in Japan in the past five years, serving up hummus and other Middle Eastern staples to the novelty-oriented and health-obsessed urban elite. In January, the Chabad House in Tokyo joined the trend when it openedChana’s Place — the capital’s only kosher certified restaurant — serving hummus, shakshuka, matbucha and other popular Israeli dishes.

“The urban population in Japan only recently became exposed to real international cuisine beyond the obvious dishes like spaghetti, pizza and hamburgers,” said the Israeli businessman Dan Zuckerman, 54, who moved to Tokyo in 1985 and ran a deli before he opened Ta-im in 2011. “Now they are discovering the more exotic foods like Mexican, Portuguese, Spanish and Greek.

“As new foreign restaurants open in Japan — Taco Bell announced its entry to the island nation in January — Israeli and Arab food enjoys an advantage because of its reliance on fresh vegetables and other lean substances, according to Rabbi Binyomin Edery, a Tokyo-based Chabad rabbi who supervises King Falafel, the city’s only certified kosher food stand.

“In a city where the population is so health conscious that about a third of them regularly wear surgeon masks whenever they go out, a lean, fiber-rich food that’s full of vitamins is going to have a serious advantage compared to fat-dripping tacos,” Edery said. “Israeli food is becoming super trendy in this country, and hummus is leading the charge because people here are already used to the idea of bean paste from their local food. It just fits.”

Chana’s Place, housed in the Tokyo Chabad center and run by the movement’s envoy to Japan, Rabbi Mendy Sudakevich, is small, accommodating only 14 diners at a time. The restaurant’s profits are used to fund activities for Tokyo’s Jewish community of a few hundred people.

“If this restaurant is to succeed, it needs to appeal to the Japanese public,” Sudakevich told JTA. “The Jewish, kosher-observing community is too small to sustain this business.”

Unlike Zuckerman’s Ta-im, which feels like a typical Tel Aviv hummus bar, complete with the Israeli pop radio station Galgalatz playing in the background, Chana’s Place fuses Middle Eastern cuisine with a local Japanese design, including a miniature Japanese garden.

Sudakevich says he realized he would need to adapt hummus for the Japanese after he served the dish at an event he catered for an Israeli firm in Tokyo. Hummus is consumed typically by wiping the paste from a plate with pita bread, but the Japanese cut the bread into pieces and made tiny hummus sandwiches.

“The Japanese marry an almost impossible mix of hunger for new stuff with a deep conservatism,” Sudakevich said. “If you want to serve them something new, you need to make sure you do it in familiar ways.”

Roy Somech, a 33-year-old Israeli who last year opened his second restaurant in Sendai, 220 miles north of Tokyo, takes a different approach. Somech believes in totally immersing his patrons not only in the Israeli experience, but that of the entire Middle East.

“When you come to our restaurants you find three flags: Israel, Turkey and Tunisia,” Somech said. “There’s Arab and Israeli music, there’s hookahs — all the fun stuff of the Middle East and Israel that many Japanese don’t know because they only hear of terrorism and bombs from that part of the world.”

Somech says he receives approximately 200 patrons daily at his two restaurants in Sendai and that 70 percent of them are returning customers.

The Israeli restaurants are able to supply their patrons with fresh pita thanks to the only bakery in the country that produces the flatbread, an operation set up a decade ago by the Israeli entrepreneur Amnon Agasy. But white tahini, the sesame spread that is a key ingredient of hummus, must be specially imported — a constraint that has 3 1/2 ounces of hummus selling in Japan for about $6.

“There’s demand for hummus, sure,” said Somech, who opened his first restaurant, Middle Mix, five years ago.

But, he added, in a country where even cheap street food is expected to meet strict standards, and whose capital city has more Michelin stars than Paris, “competition is very, very tough.”

Hummus hits the headlines


According to a new report by the food and restaurant consulting firm Baum and Whiteman, hummus – the Middle Eastern spread that is central to both Israeli and Arab cuisine — is now more popular in the United States than salsa. Today, 20 percent of U.S. households have hummus in their refrigerators, compared to 12 percent eight years ago.

But not all the hummus news is good news.

In response to months of protest from the school’s Students for Justice in Palestine organization, Wesleyan University announced last week that Sabra will no longer be its exclusive hummus provider. Sabra is a target of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) activists because it is co-owned by the Israel-based Strauss Group, which has provided care packages to the Golani Brigade, an infantry unit of the Israel Defense Forces. Several universities had already attempted to boycott the Sabra hummus brand, with Princeton University’s campaign in 2010 making the most headlines.

Sabra isn’t the only hummus brand to court controversy.

This summer, before the debate at Wesleyan was settled and during the height of Operation Protective Edge in July, Tribe hummus, also an Israeli company, launched an advertising campaign in New York whose slogans, such as “You’re either a member or you’re not” and “If you don’t have enough for everyone, that’s just too bad for everyone,” rubbed many BDS activists the wrong way. Many of these advertisements were defaced, and some of them were covered with stickers that said “Apartheid.”

However, the darkest chapter in the history of hummus came on Monday, when the chickpea spread was revealed to be a component of a force-feeding torture regimen used by the CIA during the Bush and Cheney years. The details are too explicit to describe here, but they will definitely take away your appetite.

 

Sabra trying to establish U.S. hummus law


If Sabra Dipping Co. has its way, the use of chickpeas and tahini in making hummus will become U.S. law.

The hummus manufacturer, which is co-owned by PepsiCo and the Israel-based Strauss Group, has filed a petition with the Food and Drug Administration to create a standard for which dips are considered hummus.

The standard Sabra is seeking would mandate that hummus be comprised primarily of chickpeas and contain no less than 5 percent tahini. The 11-page proposal asks that hummus be defined as “the semisolid food prepared from mixing cooked, dehydrated, or dried chickpeas and tahini with one or more optional ingredients,” according to a news release issued Monday.

Similar standards exist for other condiments, such as ketchup, mustard and mayonnaise.

“As the popularity of hummus has soared in the United States over the past decade, the name has been applied to items consisting primarily of other ingredients,” Sabra chief technology officer Tulin Tuzel said in the statement. “From black beans and white beans to lentils, soybeans, and navy beans, everyone wants to call their dip ‘hummus.’ ”

Sales of hummus have soared in the United States over the last decade, and Sabra controls about 60 percent of the market, according to Information Resources Inc., a Chicago-based market research firm.

DePaul University administration approves Sabra hummus


The Sabra brand of hummus will continue to be served in cafeterias on the campus of DePaul University in Chicago.

The university administration made the decision, announced Monday, following a recommendation of the university’s Fair Business Practices committee and following a nonbinding student referendum last week.

The Sabra brand of the chickpea dip had been served until last November, when the pro-Palestinian student group Students for Justice in Palestine objected because Sabra is half-owned by The Strauss Group. Strauss has publicly supported the Israel Defense Forces troops, and provides care packages and sports equipment to Israel’s Golani and Givati brigades.

The DePaul food service had suspended selling Sabra hummus, even though the request did not go through the Fair Business Practices Committee, as is customary. The brand was reinstated pending the committee’s decision.

“While we recognize the original complaint made by DePaul students arose from genuine concerns surrounding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, in the judgment of the Fair Business Practices Committee there do not appear to be sufficient grounds for a boycott of Sabra Hummus, primarily because the committee did not find evidence that the Strauss Group provides direct military support for units within the Israeli Defense Forces,” the committee concluded.

The student referendum on banning Sabra hummus completed last week ran 1,127 in favor and 332 against, but was deemed invalid since fewer than 1,500 students on a campus of more than 20,000 students voted on the issue.

Students for Justice in Palestine said they will continue the fight against Sabra hummus.

In a statement issued to the university community, DePaul President Dennis Holtschneider said that “I am well aware that these concerns were raised with good faith and honorable intentions. I’m proud of all our students at DePaul and very glad that they would fight on behalf of justice as they see and understand the issues at hand.”

The statement also said, “I ask that we continue to seek ways to support a lasting peace in this troubled and important part of the world.”

DePaul University students voting on hummus brand


Students at DePaul University in Chicago are voting on what brand of hummus they want served on campus.

The outcome of this week’s student referendum, which was requested by Students for Justice in Palestine, is nonbinding.

The Sabra brand of the chickpea dip had been served until last November, when the pro-Palestinian student group objected because Sabra is half-owned by The Strauss Group. Strauss has publicly supported the Israel Defense Forces troops, and provides care packages and sports equipment to Israel’s Golani and Givati brigades.

The DePaul food service suspended selling Sabra hummus, even though the request did not go through the university’s internal Fair Business Practices Committee, as is customary. The brand was reinstated pending a decision by the committee, which will take the student referendum into consideration.

The Fair Business Practices Committee is made up of three faculty members, three students and eight staff representatives. Its purpose is to protect the integrity of the university’s mission and values by examining issues raised concerning DePaul’s contracts and contractors.

The committee is set to make a recommendation soon to the university’s president, according to the university, who will make a final decision.

The initiative is “one more salvo in the global assault on Israel’s right to exist,” Michael Kotzin, executive vice president of the Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago, said in a statement.

“As trivial as the determination of which kind of hummus to serve to students at a local university may seem, this campaign has serious ramifications. SJP is using misleading language to cloak their real intention in the guise of concern for human rights. In fact, their ultimate goal is the elimination of the State of Israel.”

In December, a Princeton student referendum on whether to ask the university’s dining services to provide an alternative brand of hummus to Sabra was defeated.

Princeton hummus vote seen as part of BDS drive


Princeton students are voting on whether to ask the university’s dining services to provide an alternative brand of hummus.

The campaign to allow other brands besides Sabra in university stores reportedly is the brainchild of Philly BDS, which calls for boycott, divestment and sanctions against companies that support the Israel Defense Forces.

Sabra is half-owned by The Strauss Group, which has publicly supported the IDF and provides care packages and sports equipment to Israeli soldiers.

The referendum was placed Monday on a United Student Government ballot. The voting will conclude Wednesday, according to the Daily Princetonian student newspaper.

The Princeton Committee on Palestine, which is led by Yoel Bitran, an American-born Jewish student who moved to Chile and returned to the U.S. to attend Princeton, initiated the referendum.

DePaul University in Chicago recently halted sales of Sabra products, according to the Princetonian.

Try these vegetarian delights — fit for a Persian queen


During our first trip to Israel many years ago we bought a humorous silver Purim grogger that depicts a man holding a goblet of wine, almost tipsy, dancing while being bucked by a frisky goat as a young boy looks on. We assumed it was made in Israel, but later we discovered it was handcrafted in Italy.

Since then we have collected Purim groggers from all over the world, made from many different materials — wood, bronze, silver and even ivory. Most of the groggers symbolize Haman, but some depict modern tyrants.

Last year my husband and I traveled to Israel with the Tel Aviv-Los Angeles Partnership on a cultural mission. We stayed in Tel Aviv, where we visited art galleries and several artists’ studios.

One day we drove to Jerusalem to see a wonderful exhibition at the Israel Museum as well as a private art collection. Just outside the Old City we discovered a street behind the King David Hotel that opens onto a private hillside walkway filled with galleries and shops that sell contemporary and traditional Judaica.

At the base of the steps was a gallery that was different from the others.

Beautiful embroidered tapestries lined the room, and on one of the walls was a colorfully hand-stitched Omer calendar used to count the days from Passover to Shavuot. The owner told us that most of the work was made by artist Adina Gatt. We asked the owner if Gatt had ever designed a grogger. She immediately called the artist, who drove the next day from Nahariyah to meet us in Tel Aviv.

Gatt arrived at our hotel in the afternoon, and when she unwrapped her grogger we could not believe our eyes. It was a nontraditional piece celebrating Esther, the heroine of the Purim story, rather than depicting Haman. It has banners embroidered in Hebrew and adorned with small brass bells hanging from each one, and the beautifully handcrafted piece is topped with a crown of bells. When the handle is twisted the fabric banners unfold, fly in a circle and the bells chime. Each banner quotes a passage from the Purim Megillah.

After we arranged to purchase the piece and have it sent to Los Angeles, we talked with Gatt about the foods that are served during the Purim celebrations, and she shared a few of her favorite recipes with me, including Hummus With Pita Bread and her Eggplant Casserole. Adina’s favorite dessert is cheesecake, which she makes for almost every holiday. During Purim she adds nuts and poppy seeds to celebrate Queen Esther’s traditonal characterization as a vegetarian.

Purim Poppy Seed Cheesecake
Almond Nut Crust (recipe follows)
2 cups sour cream
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
5 tablespoons poppy seeds
4 eggs

Prepare, bake and cool the Almond Nut Crust.

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

In a small bowl, beat the sour cream and 1 tablespoon of the sugar, 1 teaspoon of the vanilla and 1/4 teaspoon of the almond extract until well blended. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese with the remaining 1 cup sugar and 3 tablespoons of the poppy seeds until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Blend in the remaining vanilla and almond extracts. Pour this filling into the prepared pan.

Bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until the center is set and the top is golden. Remove the cake from the oven. Spread the prepared sour cream mixture on top and return to the oven for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons of poppy seeds. Cool. Remove from the springform pan and serve cold.

Makes 16 servings.

Almond Nut Crust
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups unpeeled whole almonds
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon almond extract

Preheat the oven to 375 F.

Melt three tablespoons of butter. Brush a 9- or 10-inch springform pan with butter and set aside.

In a food processor or blender mix almonds and sugar until the almonds are coarsely chopped. Dice remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Add butter and almond extract to food processor or blender and mix until the dough pulls away from the sides.

Press the almond mixture evenly into the bottom of the springform pan and 1?4 inch up the sides in the prepared pan. Bake for five to 10 minutes, until the crust is golden brown. Cool.

Hummus With Pita Bread

Hummus is a simple, wonderfully flavorful dip or spread made from garbanzo beans (chickpeas) and tahini (sesame seed paste). Its texture is velvety, rich and firm enough to scoop up with wedges of pita bread or crisp vegetables. The taste is robust, nutty, garlicky and so satisfying that you won’t be able to stop eating it.

l can (15 ounce) garbanzo beans, with liquid
1 cup tahini (sesame seed paste)
1/2 cups lemon juice
4 garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/3 cup olive oil
6 fresh parsley sprigs, stemmed
1 to 2 teaspoons salt

Place the garbanzos in a food processor or blender and coarsely purée. Add the tahini, lemon juice, garlic and cumin and purée until smooth, drizzling the olive oil into the mixture during the mixing. Blend in the parsley leaves and l teaspoon of salt. Add additional salt to taste.

Serve with hot pita bread and sliced vegetables such as carrots, zucchini, mushrooms and jicama.

Makes six to eight servings.

Adina’s Eggplant Casserole

This casserole is wonderful as a main course, a side dish or as a topping over pasta.

Olive oil
2 medium-size eggplants
6 firm tomatoes, preferably locally grown
6 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the broiler. Line two to three baking sheets with aluminum foil and brush with olive oil.

Pass the Hummus, Please!


Hummus, the popular Middle Eastern staple made out of chickpeas, packs a nutritional wallop, according to a new study by Dr. Ram Reifen and Dr. Shahal Abbo of the faculty of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Quality Sciences of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Reifen, an expert on digestive illnesses and child nutrition, and Abbo, an expert in plant genetics, succeeded in creating hybrid chickpeas which are high in antioxidants, protein and minerals, such as calcium. Antioxidants contribute to the prevention of heart disease and cancer.

In their research at the Rehovot Campus, rats and goats were given a diet supplemented by chickpeas. The animals were found to have faster growth rates than those fed only animal proteins. In addition, chickpeas are less allergenic than other high-protein plant food sources, such as soy, which points to the possibility of developing chickpea-based baby foods. The European Union has recognized the value of Hebrew University’s research and has allocated more than $1.5 million toward continuation of the work. Cooperative development is proceeding with Israeli and European researchers and commercial firms toward developing chickpea-based alternatives for milk powder for babies and children’s foods.

Chickpeas also contain elements that prevent wrinkling of skin, which holds out promise for its use in developing ointments for skin care. Cosmetic firms in Germany and France are working on the development of chickpea-based anti-wrinkle creams.

HEBREW UNIVERSITY HUMMUS

1 can (16-19 ounces) chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1/4 cup tahini (sesame seed paste)

3 tablespoons water

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons parsley

1 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted

1/4 teaspoon salt

Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor and process until smooth. Store in refrigerator. Serve with pita bread and salad.

Yield: approximately 2 cups — Staff Report

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