I make cookies and cakes for my co-worker's birthdays. I fry chicken and make coleslaw because it is Labor Day. I stop at Golden Spoon on my way home from work because I accomplished a goal. I create beautiful trifles for bridal showers, and pressed sandwiches for picnics with friends. I make myself a white chocolate latte (with foam of course) every Sunday, just because it is the weekend and I deserve it. I am the type of person who loves to celebrate both the little and big things in life, and I always want to celebrate them with food.
So you can imagine, that when there is an real occasion to celebrate, that I love to go all out. And...since it is my birthday this week, I don't see any reason why I shouldn't celebrate EVERYDAY! Don't you agree??? (If you don't agree, just please politely leave this page and refrain from raining on my parade. It's my birthday and I will eat if I want to.)
I will be celebrating here on The Cilantropist ALL WEEK with a new post each day from today through next Sunday. I will share a breakfast dish, a quick and easy lunch, main dishes, sweets and treats, and even a cocktail! And of course, we can't forget the birthday cake... And the best part is that all these dishes feature my favorite foods, because if you can't have your favorite foods for your birthday, when can you have them? Aside from the actual food, I will be guest posting on the Chobani site, I will have a CSN giveaway, and share my 100th post. This will week will be jam packed, so I hope you are excited!!!
And what better way to kick off a week of my favorite foods than sharing a dish that combines several of my favorite flavors, including my namesake: cilantro.
This pasta dish is rich with mediterranean flavors including tomatoes, garlic, olives and hummus. The first three ingredients are pretty standard in many dishes, and always a winning combination in my book; but, the thing that really attracted me to this pasta dish when I saw it in the February issue of Bon Appetit, was that it had a 'sauce' make with hummus.
I don't know about you, but making pasta sauce with hummus sounded really unique and different and at once I was both intrigued yet skeptical. I decided to give the recipe a go when my friend Mary was visiting, because we both love hummus and we have a history of making delicious pasta dishes together.
Everything came together when we visited the Little Italy farmers market and I picked up this amazing fresh radiatore pasta. Isn't it beautiful??!
The other thing I loved about this recipe was its simplicity. The pasta cooks while you are charring the tomatoes, then you use the some of the warm cooking water to thin the hummus which makes the sauce when combined with the tomatoes. Add paprika and garlic, toss some chopped kalamata olives and cilantro on top, and call it a day. Honestly, when I made this for the very first time with Mary, the entire thing was done in 25 minutes, which makes me Speedy Gonzales since that beats the active time they list for the recipe.
But speed aside, I love the flavor of this pasta. LOVE it. I don't know why someone didn't think of a hummus-based pasta sauce sooner, but frankly, I don't care since I have it now. All of the flavors marry together absolutely perfectly, and the hummus makes the sauce really creamy and luxurious. I also love that the hummus gives some protein to a meatless pasta dish, and if you want even more protein, topping the pasta with a little crumbled goat cheese would be excellent. One thing: the original recipe called for whole chickpeas to be added along with the hummus. I don't like beans in my pasta, so I took them out of the recipe.
You know what I do like? Wine. Be sure to enjoy a glass (or two) of a nice Spanish or Italian red wine with this mediterranean pasta. You deserve it.
Mediterranean Pasta with Hummus and Charred Tomatoes
Adapted from Bon Appetit, February 2011
I am continually drawn back to the simplicity of this dish because I keep so many of these ingredients in my fridge regularly. Since I make my own hummus, I almost always have some in the freezer so I can enjoy this at a moment's notice. The original recipe included whole chickpeas, but I don't really like the texture of whole beans with my pasta so I left them out. Alternatively, if you are someone who doesn't like olives, go ahead and take them out; but, be sure to add extra salt since the kalamata olives provide the majority of the salt in the recipe below.
8 oz pasta, I used fresh radiatore
3/4-1 cup plain hummus
1-2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2, 12 oz packages cherry or grape tomatoes
4 cloves garlic, pressed (or about 1-2 tsp minced garlic depending on taste)
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 cup roughly chopped, kalamata olives (be sure to use pitted olives)
1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro
Salt and pepper to taste
Cook pasta according to package directions in a large pot of boiling salted water. When pasta is al dente, drain pasta, but reserve about 1/2 cup cooking water. Whisk hummus into reserved cooking water until smooth.
Meanwhile, heat oil in a large heavy bottomed skillet over high heat, then add cherry tomatoes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and continue to cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes are slightly charred or yellowed. This will take 5-10 minutes depending on your heat and skillet. (They will steam and pop, which is fine. Just stir them around so they don't get burned.) Add the paprika and garlic, stir to combine, and press on some of the tomatoes to release their juices. Add cooked pasta and thinned hummus to tomato mixture, then toss together with chopped kalamata olives and cilantro, and add salt and pepper if necessary (do not add salt to taste before adding olives, they provide plenty of salt). Serve immediately.