Cherry Pepper Hummus

On a January visit to my cousin Sarah's digs in Florida, she introduced me to the most amazing condiment ever, second only to a perfectly spicy-tangy honey mustard: cherry pepper hummus. Sarah loads it up on a toasty pita with lots of fresh veggies like lettuce, cucumber, bell peppers, and radish, and it is so delicious. She makes the best pita sandwiches, no joke!

I started experimenting when I got home, and have settled on a combination that I can't stop eating. It's also really easy to make since I use canned chickpeas. My absolute favorite hummus recipe is from Ottolenghi's Jerusalem cookbook, which uses dried chickpeas, but canned chickpeas are a great shortcut for this kind of everyday recipe. Since my default is buying pre-made hummus at the grocery store, I don't feel too badly about using canned chickpeas here. Also, the cherry peppers and spices add so much flavor that you can't really tell. I can already sense many of you rolling your eyes at this whole discussion, so I'm going to move it along and tell you everything you can put this hummus on.

Other than the usual hummus suspects like veggies and pita chips, I've been using it as a sauce for my end-of-week-fridge pasta. A couple of weeks ago I tossed this on rigatoni with leftover roasted eggplant, some green beans that were going to go bad in a day or two, and hunks of mozzarella from the weekend's pizza, and it was ridiculously good. Just this evening for dinner I roasted cremini mushrooms, onions, and broccoli, combined them with cooked egg noodles, and smothered everything with this hummus. I also love it on toast with smoked salmon and lettuce for breakfast in place of the usual avocado or plain hummus. Sometimes I just eat it with a spoon, honestly.

Cherry Pepper Hummus
Inspired by the one and only Sarah!

2 cans chickpeas
1/2 to 2/3 c tahini, to your taste
2 lemons, juiced
4 cloves garlic, smashed
Healthy pinch salt
12 to 16 ounce container cherry peppers; you can find them at the deli/antipasto section of your grocery store with the olives, etc., or the aisle where they put other jarred veggies
1 to 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 to 2 teaspoons sumac
1 to 2 teaspoons chili powder
1 to 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
1 to 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes

Drain the chickpeas, but keep about a half can's liquid, and add to the bowl of a food processor. Add the reserved chickpea liquid, tahini, lemon juice, and garlic. Blend in the food processor for 1 minute. Add in a splash of water and continue to blend, adding water as necessary, for about 5 minutes, or until the hummus is super smooth. Give it a taste, then add salt if necessary.

Add in the cherry peppers, reserving the juice. You can add a couple dashes of the juice as necessary to achieve a smooth consistency. Add in the spices, starting with a teaspoon or so each, and blend until the hummus is smooth. Adjust the spices to your taste. You can store the hummus in the fridge for about a week, or freeze some if you don't think you'll make it through it all in that time. I've done this and it defrosts really well. Enjoy!