I’ve always been a big fan of hummus, and once I started this paleo thing I was a little bummed to learn that chickpeas, and therefore hummus, are out of the question. Hummus was always my go-to “healthy” snack at parties and potlucks, and it was a reliable dish to keep around during college for hungry afternoons hitting the books. I’ve been fine without it since I got over my original sadness, but what I do miss is the smoky tang of the tahini.
What’s tahini, you ask? It is the foundation of hummus, the building block upon which all other flavors rely. Tahini is a smooth paste made of ground sesame seeds, all nutty and tangy and roasty. Without tahini, hummus and baba ganoush and all other dips would be weak and unappetizing. Additionally, sesame seeds are a great source of calcium, zinc and iron, especially the unhulled variety of tahini (sometimes called sesame seed butter).
Some friends invited us over for dinner last week and asked that I bring a veggie tray, and since no veggie tray is complete without an incredible dip I made a variation on a bean-less recipe inspired by this Christmas gift, using cumin-roasted zucchini in place of chickpeas. The result was just as satisfying — and with an even smoother consistency — as my once-beloved hummus, this time flecked with green and fragrant with spices and garlic. Serve with fresh sliced cucumbers and bell peppers, or even a treat like these raw flax crackers in the photograph. So what if they taste a little like seaweed? They’re GOOD FOR YOU.
Hush up now and eat your vegetables.
3 small zucchini
1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil
1 c. tahini
2 lemons, juiced
1 tsp. garlic salt (or 2 garlic cloves, in which case you should add salt)
fresh ground pepper
pinch of cayenne
1 Tbsp. cumin
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Wash and slice zucchini lengthwise, and toss in fat of choice (I used coconut oil), and a liberal sprinkling of salt and cumin. Roast until golden on the edges, beginning to char – about 25 minutes.
Meanwhile, pulse tahini, olive oil, lemon juice and spices in food processor until smooth. When zucchini is roasted, roughly chop and add to hummus base. Pulse until smooth. Season to taste and enjoy at parties or as an appetizer before dinner at home.