Friday, December 9, 2011

Cocktail Party Week.....Day 6.....Chickpea Dip with Toasted Cumin and Pomegranate

No party would be complete without a creamy dip and a crunchy chip.  This modern twist on hummus fits the first part of that equation perfectly.  It's got a nice smokey backdrop from the toasted cumin seeds and when the pomegranate seeds explode in your mouth you get this great punch of tart-sweet flavor in addition to a little crunch.  

I used to be so intimidated by pomegranates until I watched a tutorial on-line and realized how easy it was to get those seeds out of there!  All you need is a large bowl of water and a knife and the rest is a piece of cake.



Fill a large bowl with water.  Score the pomegranate from top to bottom in quarters.  Submerge the pomegranate and pry the sections apart with your fingers.  Then gently remove the seeds from the pith.  Then this magical thing happens and the seeds sink to the bottom and the pith floats to the top!  Genius!! Remove the large chunks of rind and then skim off the pieces of pith from the top of the bowl and then simply drain the seeds in a colander.

And viola!  You've got these tasty little devils!  I use them in everything from my oatmeal in the morning to my champagne at noon cocktail hour!  Oh and to sprinkle on the Chickpea Dip.


And now for the ever-important crunchy chip.  These Cumin-Crusted Pita Chips are sooo perfect here and extremely easy to make.  All it takes is some pita bread rounds (I used whole wheat), olive oil, toasted cumin seeds and salt.  

Here are the recipes:

Chickpea Dip with toasted Cumin and Pomegranate

1 teaspoon cumin seeds (the pitas also call for 1 teaspoon cumin seeds so I toasted them at the same time)
2 cloves of garlic
sea salt
2 15-oz cans chickpeas (also called garbanzo beans)
1 pomegranate
fruity extra virgin olive oil

In a small, dry frying pan over medium heat, toast the cumin seeds, shaking the pan often, until fragrant, about 2 minutes.  Pour onto a plate to cool.

In a mortar (or you can do this on a cutting board and blend with the side edges of your knife), combine the garlic and pinch of salt and crush to a paste with a pestle.  Add the toasted cumin seeds and grind them together with the garlic (or they can be ground in a spice grinder).  Grate enough zest from 1 lemon to measure 1/2 teaspoon, and then halve and juice both lemons.  Drain the chickpeas, rinse under cold running water and drain well again.

Seed the pomegranate as shown above.

In a food processor or blender, combine the chickpeas, garlic-cumin mixture, lemon zest, 4 tablespoons lemon juice, 1/4 cup olive oil, and 1/4 cup water.  Process the mixture until very creamy, adding more water if needed to achieve the desired consistency.  Season to taste with salt and lemon juice.

Scrape the dip onto a large plate.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with about 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds.  Serve with the pita chips.

Cumin-Crusted Pita Chips

1 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted
3/4 teaspoons kosher salt
3 pita breads, 7 inches in diameter
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 deg. F.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.

Toast cumin seeds, cool and grind in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle.  Mix ground seeds in a bowl with the kosher salt.

Brush the pita breads on both sides with the oil, cut them into 8 wedges each, and arrange the wedges on the prepared baking sheet.  Sprinkle the tops evenly with the salt and cumin mixture.  Bake until the wedges are light golden brown and crisp, 10-15 minutes, turning them over halfway through baking.

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