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Homemade hummus is great for a fall picnic

Homemade hummus is great for a fall picnic

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Driving along our local highways provides views of rust and golden trees. Autumn is in full swing and Mother Nature provides beautiful days to spend outside. For those who venture out to enjoy Southern Illinois views at one of our many wineries or breweries, varieties of fall-colored hummus make an ideal day-trip snack. It’s easy to make, easy to pack, and holds well in these cooler temperatures.

A popular Middle Eastern dish, classic hummus is made by puréeing chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, garlic and olive oil. The addition of spices will change the basic flavor to your liking. Purists argue that hummus must contain chickpeas and tahini — “hummus” means chickpeas in Arabic. Tahini is a paste made from crushed sesame seeds that has a texture similar to peanut butter. The proper name for this classic version is hummus bi tahini.

While the classic hummus is still a favorite, there are now a variety of hummus-style dips and spreads available to purchase and certainly make from scratch. Not all contain tahini or chickpeas, either.

Many recipes call for different beans or peas like navy beans, black beans or black-eyed peas. Other recipes use sweet potatoes or pumpkin in place of or in addition to chickpeas. Tahini is sometimes replaced with other nut butters and olive oil can be exchanged for melted coconut oil or sesame oil.

No matter what type of hummus you make, it can be served with fresh vegetables, pita chips or soft flatbread to provide added variety. Although hummus is typically eaten as a dip or spread, it also makes a good condiment. Use it in place of mayonnaise on your favorite sandwich or on your burgers. Mix it in with mashed potatoes or mashed cauliflower. Add it to your deviled egg mixture or replace all or part of the mayonnaise in potato salad. Incorporate hummus into your pasta salad with crunchy vegetables or make a creamy salad dressing out of it.

If you are just making some for your trek along the wine trail, whip up a few variations and pack each into a sealable container. Package up precut vegetables and flatbread and grab a box or two of pita chips. Place everything in your cooler or picnic basket with serving spoons, plates and napkins. When you arrive at your destination, lay everything out on a pretty tray or platter and enjoy the view!

Niki Davis is the creator of Rooted in Foods food heritage blog and a regular contributor to The Southern Illinoisan's weekly Taste section. You can find her at www.rootedinfoods.com.

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