perfect pistachio and pomegranate hummus

i'm writing this from a hotel room, as i've unexpectedly ended up with a 24 hour layover in atlanta, georgia. i was supposed to be in starkville, mississippi yesterday in the early afternoon, but delta had other plans in mind! i tried to turn these travel woe lemons into lemonade, and ended up having a blast taking the evening to explore downtown atlanta. 

as soon as i landed and settled into my last-minute hotel room, i head downtown to do some market hopping. i started out at krog street market, then made my way to ponce city market. in both places, i weaved in and out of what felt like a mini UN of culinary creations. from indian to south korean to italian to middle eastern, it felt impossible to decide where to eat (or if i should've just "settled" on a big bowl of jeni's ice cream for dinner.)

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sean brock has been on my radar for quite a while thanks to mind of a chef, so i ultimately couldn't pass up finally trying out one of his restaurants, minero. i was not at all disappointed with the choice! i sipped on a pineapple agua fresco and ate every single bite of carnitas with salsa verde cocida, roasted pumpkin and pepitas (and 2/3 of their renowned warm corn tortillas). i was really craving some soul food or classic southern food while in atlanta, but minero snuck a bit in there since the carnitas were nestled on top of hoppin' john. 

after grabbing dinner, i walked along the beltline before heading back to my hotel. so many people were out on the trail i felt like the entire city of atlanta was in tow for a weekend evening stroll. i strategically placed myself behind a puppy and worked off some of those carnitas, but alas, didn't end up making enough room for some of jeni's. a heaping cone of roasted strawberry buttermilk ice cream will just have to be on my bucket list for next time!

pistachio, mint and pomegranate hummus || planting my roots

having extra time on my hands also finally gave me the space i needed to get this new post up! as you have probably noticed at this point, i'm a sucker for all things pistachio > mint > pomegranate. for me, it's the trifecta of ingredients that can be made sweet (imagine as an ice cream topping!) or savory (mmmm on roasted chicken shwarama).

in this case, i've swirled together into a rich, creamy hummus. this dip comes together so quickly, and is wonderful to serve as an appetizer with some toasted, crunchy pita, or as a spread on a sandwich or wrap. you may also want to toss a big spoonful on the side of a veggie-heavy salad, as it adds a wonderful burst of flavor. 

as with happens every time i travel, i'm sure i'll be returning home from mississippi and georgia with a whole new world of flavors to be inspired by. something sweet with peach or pecan? something savory with fried catfish or sweet potato rolls? there's a lot more taste testing left, and someone's gotta do it.

pistachio, mint and pomegranate hummus || planting my roots

pistachio, mint and pomegranate hummus

what you'll need:

1 15 oz can chickpeas, skins removed and chickpea water (aquafaba) reserved
1/3 cup salted and roasted pistachios, plus extra for garnish
1 clove garlic
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/2-3/4 cup tahini (depending on how creamy you'd like it)
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, loosely packed
kosher salt, to taste
pomegranate arils, for garnish
1-2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, for garnish

what you'll do:

  1. remove chickpea skins (click for instructions to do this here - see steps 1 & 2 in recipe!).
  2. in food processor, blend pistachios for about 1 minute, or until a pistachio paste forms. then add chickpeas, garlic, lemon, tahini, mint, salt and aquafaba (should be about 1/2 cup). blend to combine until smooth and creamy.
  3. use a spatula to transfer into serving bowl. top with a light handful of pistachios, extra virgin olive oil and pomegranates. 

quick pickle stacked sandwich

mastering the art of pickling has been on my bucket list for nearly two years now. but, i'm not the most patient person in the world, so i've settled for quick pickle recipes as kinda, sorta checking this skill off my list. also, until i move out of my one bedroom apartment, i have a feeling space will continue to hold me back from shelves and shelves of pickled and preserved foods...le sigh. 

so, what is quick pickling? it's a super simple shortcut to getting the tang, brine and crunch we love in pickled foods, but doing it in just a few hours. starting to quick pickle is a slippery slope, though, so don't say i didn't warn you. once i learned how to do red onions (thanks, bon appetit!), next it was multicolored carrots...then it was cauliflower...then it was radishes. i couldn't look at crunchy vegetable without instantly becoming a portlandia episode of "we can pickle that!" irl. 

quick pickled radishes || planting my roots
quick pickle radishes || planting my roots

all you need on hand is the vegetable of your choice (in this case, radishes), a vinegar, such as white or apple cider vinegar, your preferred spices/herbs and white sugar. for my herb/spice mix, i really like ball's mixed pickling spice, which will only set you back about $4 and makes this process even quicker. i really like ginger for pickled carrots, for example, but use no spices/herbs at all for pickled red onion. the complexity and flavor is totally up to you, and thekitchn has a great guide to some flavor combinations. 

recipes range from calling for a few days until quick pickles are ready to just 20 minutes. for this sandwich, i let the radishes sit for about 5 hours, but i think ideally you should wait at least 24 hours to really let the vinegar do its magic. you'll be rewarded with a hot pink bounty of veggies.

pickled radish, sweet potato and hummus sandwich || planting my roots
pickled radish, sweet potato and hummus sandwich || planting my roots

to complement the peppery radishes, i've layered cumin- and garlic-roasted sweet potato rounds, smooth hummus, coarse dijon mustard and fresh spinach. if you have extra hummus on hand, you can use it as a dip for the pickled radishes, as well as the sweet potato rounds if you crisp them up a bit longer in the oven.

all in all, this sandwich is bursting with flavor and color, and makes for a wonderful lunchtime toast. it's also a testament to DIY cooking, as nearly every single element of this sandwich was homemade - from the bread to the picked radishes, and everything in between. short of growing the spinach and making the mustard yourself, there's a lot of homemade pride packed into each layer.

pickled radish, sweet potato and hummus sandwich || planting my roots

quick pickle radish, sweet potato and hummus sandwich

makes two sandwiches or four toasts

what you'll need:

for quick pickle radish:
1 cup white vinegar
1 tbsp pickling spices
1/3 cup white sugar
6-7 radishes, thinly sliced (8 oz)

for sweet potato rounds:
2 large sweet potatoes, thinly sliced into rounds
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp crushed garlic
kosher salt, to taste
black pepper, to taste

for rest of sandwich/toast:
4 slices of good bread (stacked for sandwich, open face for toast)
1/2 cup fresh spinach
1/2 cup hummus, store-bought or homemade recipe here
4 tbsp coarse dijon mustard
 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

what you'll do: 

to prepare quick pickle radishes:

  1. to make pickling liquid, pour 1 cup water, white vinegar, pickling spices and sugar into small saucepan. over medium heat, whisk until sugar dissolves. 
  2. pour pickling liquid into clean glass jar over radishes. let sit on counter until cool, then move to fridge to rest for at least 5 hours.

to prepare sweet potato rounds:

  1. in a large sauce pan, dump in sweet potatoes rounds and cover with water. heat water to 160° fahrenheit. keep this heat consistent as you cover and set aside for 1 hour.
  2. while sweet potatoes rest in water, place oven rack in upper middle positions. preheat oven to 400° fahrenheit. drain sweet potatoes, then pour into large bowl. toss with extra virgin olive oil, crushed garlic, cumin and kosher salt and black pepper, adjusting for taste.
  3. pour sweet potatoes across a baking sheet in single layer and roast until bottom side is browned, about 30 minutes. remove from oven and carefully flip each sweet potato round to the other side. place back in oven and roast for about 15-20 more minutes.
  4. remove from oven and let cool.

to assemble sandwich/toasts:

  1. lightly toast all four slices of bread in a pan or cast iron skillet with extra virgin olive oil. toast until golden brown. remove from cast iron skillet, and layer hummus, coarse dijon mustard, spinach, sweet potato rounds and pickled radishes. layer on all four slices for toasts, or on just two slices for sandwiches.

a christmas feast

for my family's last meal together before we all parted ways for different parts of the country after the holiday break, we feasted on what has become a seemingly classic stoltz meal: rosemary and garlic roasted lamb, hummus, tabbouleh and couscous with pine nuts and mint. the recipes for each of these courses are in the post!

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classic hummus

as early as i can remember, hummus, tabbouleh and grape leaves were a staple at stoltz family gatherings. my family has roots in syria and lebanon, along with germany and ireland, but we've always gravitated towards middle eastern cooking when we're all together. i think that makes sense since so much of middle eastern food is communal - warm pita bread you can rip apart and share with your loved ones as your plunge it into hummus. me, as a little girl, standing next to my aunt learning how to roll grape leaves fresh off the vine...these are some of my earliest cooking memories. 

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