I can only take partial credit for this lovely dish. A sweet friend in London invited me to Sunday dinner at her perfectly charming home, with a lawn sloping down to a stretch of river home to ducks and geese. She is vegetarian and makes beautiful, fresh food that always impresses me (her pavlova is a thing of beauty). The minute she put this on her table, I knew I would copy it as soon as I got home – and told her so. I made it for my family within weeks of my return. It is hearty but light at the same time, fresh and filling but not heavy. And it is impressive when served, with the rich tones of browns and creams and a hint of umber. It is a perfect addition to a cold supper spread (see my Whipped Feta with Za’atar Roasted Tomatoes which I served with this). Put it in the middle of the table or serve it more buffet style for everyone to dig into at leisure. The spiced vegetables, roasted to crispy perfection, are the perfect foil to the rich and creamy hummus, all scooped up with thick pita or naan or a sliced, toasted country loaf – or simple scooped up with a spoon.
I make my own hummus for this one. Calm down – I absolutely buy hummus ready made for snacking and have no problem with it. Feel free to do that or make whatever hummus recipe you prefer. But I urge you to try this version at least once. It is the recipe from Ottolenghi, the fantastic chain of fancy food outlets in London started by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tammimi. Their cooking and cookbooks have influenced modern recipes and tastes immensely and I highly recommend their books (and a trip to one of their places should you be in London). This hummus made from dried chickpeas and lots of tahini is the platonic ideal hummus for me, so I make it when I want really perfect hummus. It makes a lot and, by the way, it freezes. Use a light roast tahini (I love Soom brand). The baking soda step helps the skins soften and separate and speeds up the cooking time.
Cut the vegetables in pieces close to the same size, and make sure everything is patted dry so it gets nice and crispy. The cornstarch helps with this too as does preheating the pan with oil. I love this blend of Middle Eastern inflected spices, but you really could do any combination you like or a premade blend like ras al hanout or Baharat – even a curry. Urfa chile is a mild Turkish chile that is really wonderful, but you can use regular chile powder.
Hummus Platter with Spice Roasted Vegetables
- For the Hummus
1 ¼ cup dried chickpeas
1 teaspoon baking soda
6 ½ cups water
1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons tahini
4 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
4 cloves garlic
½ cup ice water
Salt to taste
- For the Vegetables
4 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 (15-ounce) can of chickpeas
1 small head cauliflower
3 large carrots, peeled
1 pound baby yellow potatoes
2 Tablespoons corn starch
1 teaspoon sumac
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon mild chile powder or urfa chile flakes or Aleppo chile flakes
3/4 teaspoon sea salt flakes
1/2 teaspoon coarse black pepper
1 teaspoon dried oregano
- For the Hummus
- Put the chickpeas in a bowl and cover by double the volume of water. Soak for 8 hours or overnight, then drain completely.
- Put the chickpeas in a heavy saucepan and add the baking soda, place the pan over high heat and cook, stirring constantly, for three minutes, then pour in the water and bring to a boil. Skim off any foam or floating skins that rise to the surface and continue cooking for anywhere from 20 – 45 minutes, until the chickpeas are very tender, but not mushy. Pinch a pea between your fingers and it should smush with no resistance. Drain the chickpeas and transfer to a food processor. Leave to cool slightly. Process to a smooth paste, scraping down the bowl as needed. Add the tahini, lemon juice, garlic and 1 ½ teaspoons salt. Process until very smooth, scraping the bowl. With the machine running, add the ice water in a steady stream and process for about 5 minutes until you have an incredibly smooth and creamy paste. Transfer the hummus to a bowl and use immediately or place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface and keep in the fridge until ready to use. You can make the hummus up to three days in advance.
- For the Vegetables
- Heat the oven to 425 degrees.
- Rinse and drain the chickpeas thoroughly, then pat dry with paper towels or a tea towel. You want them very dry so they crisp. Cut the carrots on the diagonal into pieces about 1-inch thick. Cut cauliflower into small florets about the same size as the carrot pieces and the potatoes. Cut the potatoes into halves or quarters, again so they are roughly the same size as the carrots and cauliflower. Pat the cut sides of the potatoes dry with paper or tea towels, again to help with the crisping.
- Brush 2 Tablespoons of olive oil on a large rimmed baking sheet and place it in the oven to heat. Put the chickpeas and vegetables in a large bowl and add the cornstarch. Toss to coat, covering every surface. Add the sumac, cumin, paprika, chile flakes salt and pepper and toss to coat. Add 2 Tablespoons of olive oil and toss to coat everything well. You can use a bit more oil if needed, but you do not want excess oil pooling on the baking sheet or the vegetables won’t crisp. Take the baking sheet out of the oven (using mitts of course) and spread the vegetables out into an even layer, carefully turning the potatoes cut side down. You will hear a sizzle. Sprinkle over the dried oregano, and a bit more salt and pepper if you like. Roast for 30 – 40 minutes, until the vegetables are golden brown, even charred in a few places. Let the vegetables cool to just slightly warm before serving.
- Spread the hummus in a thick even layer on a large serving platter with the back of a spoon, creating a little rim around the edges. Spoon the vegetables over the top of the hummus and drizzle the whole with olive oil. Serve with wedges of pita or naan or lightly toasted slices of a hearty loaf.
- I’ll be honest, I frequently season the vegetables in Ziploc bags, using two – one with potatoes and chickpeas and one with cauliflower and carrots. It makes for easy clean up.
- Don’t over crowd the baking sheet. You can use two if needed.