Wednesday, February 9
Up until Saturday evening, I had no idea who was playing in the Superbowl. Seriously. It is because of this fundamental obliviousness that I am the black sheep of my Dad's family. While the Holdens have a fantasy football league, and I am the only exempt member. When we watch football at Thanksgiving I drink beer after beer and get angry and feministy at the commercials and try to act like I know what's going on but most of the time I am the girl who cheers when the wrong team scores a touchdown.
But I was weirdly really excited about the Super Bowl Sunday, mostly because it's the only holiday (yes, I am pretty sure it is a holiday in America) that encourages the consumption of copious amounts of dip, which is, by definition, delicious. It can go by so many names: hummos, baba ganoush, guacamole, aioli, chutney, tzatziki, etc etc etc. Is your mouth watering? I think I need to figure out a way to incorporate more dip into my life without being forced to watch football.
So I wrote earlier about my own adventures with dip, or as I naively mislabeled it, hummus. Ali, spitfire and expert in all food Palestinian and pastry-related, corrected me with the following rule:
ok, here's the deal: call the hummos "chickpea spread" or something of a similar nature and you're golden. call the unorthodox (but in all likelihood delicious) chickpea spread "hummos" and you're in hot water. call the aforementioned chickpea spread "hummos" AND insist that it's authentic jewish cuisine*, and it's fatwa time. THE RULES ARE SIMPLE, ABIGAIL.
Ali is not the only person enthusiastic about this distinction. In this New York Times article Majdi Wadi, the CEO of a hummus company that is chiefly marketed to Americans says, of his product : "BACK home, they would shoot me in the head for doing this to hummus". He says that hummus is pure, just chickpeas, lemon juice, cumin, tahini, and garlic. All of these silly tangy-ranch and horseradish plum "hummuses" have been created to appeal to an American palate, but to associate them with the original would be more than just frowned upon in some circles.
I do not want to be frowned upon because of semantics. So I dreamed up a pretty bitchin' Chipotle and Sweet Potato dip (that has a chickpea base but is CERTAINLY NOT hummus) and after many hurdles my vision has finally come into fruition. Packed with flavor and an obscene amount of beta-carotene, which boosts your immune system, protects your body against the damages of free radicals, and even enhances your reproductive capabilities (okay, fine, this isn't something that everyone necessarily wants but bear with me. The benefits of beta-carotene certainly outweigh its fertility boosting powers. Just be safe y'all) you can happily munch on this dip while you watch whatever team play whatever team, and no matter if you win or lose your belly and body will be happy. Sorry if your heart breaks or something. The almost unparalleled amount of beta-caroteine contained in sweet potatoes is excellent for boosting vitamin A levels in the blood, particularly in children. Vitamin-A aids in protecting and improving your eyesight and fighting off nasty viral infections. In order to fully absorb all that beta-carotene, it's important that you eat your sweet potatoes with a minimal amount of fat (WHFoods recommends 3-5 grams but even the teensiest bit helps). This, of course, is no problem for me. Sweet potatoes with salty butter or even miso butter is one of my favorite flavor combinations.
But my Chipotle and Sweet Potato Dip, which is sweet and spicy and tangy and salty and rich and oh my good lord delicious on anything from a cracker to a carrot to a sandwich to your finger, gives my old standby a run for its money. So what are you waiting for? Dump the ingredients in your nearest food processor or blender and give it a whirl!
Chipotle and Sweet Potato Dip
1 cup cooked chickpeas
1 large or 2 small sweet potatoes, roasted for optimum flavor
zest of 1 lemon
juice of half a lemon
1-2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1-2 cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, de-seeded and chopped unless you are very brave (you can find these cans of peppers in most grocery stores in their "ethnic foods" isle. Even if you just use a single pepper you can store the rest in your fridge for up to 2 weeks)
Put everything in your food processor or blender, no need to carefully arrange it like I did. Puree until smooth. Add 1/4 of a cup of water if you prefer a softer consistency. Serve topped with a glug of olive oil and the the herbs or spices of your choice (I chose cracked pepper and parsley but you can certainly experiment).
*This dates back to a rousing Israeli versus Palestinian cuisine-themed brunch we had over the summer. In my defense I stayed away from contentious Middle Eastern dishes and just made matzo brei. My even more diplomatic friend Hillary brought a pineapple. We also had shaksuka, foul and pita, fried halloumi cheese, Martha Stewart's banana bread, and some kind of jam. There was no clear winner.