Before I moved to Toronto, I was a dinner person. The evening meal was the winding down point of my day, the time that I let myself ignore impending assignments, the work I still had yet to do, and the general stresses of a neurotic student's day-to-day life. I loved the whole process, the thought that went into the meal, the chopping, the choice of ingredients, standing over the stove, the sounds and smells of cooking food. Then, the final moment of glory, when I sat down with a steaming dish of home-cooked goodness to savour.
It all sounds very romantic and nostalgic when I describe it now - not to say that there isn't anything poetic or beautiful about food or eating it (eating is one of my favourite things, after all) - but in comparison to "dinnertime" nowadays, which generally involves chocolate, tea, potentially coffee, and sometimes toast or a spoonful or three of cold lentils, it kind of is.
The truth is, I've gotten to be both a little lazy and also...a little less hungry. Part of it, I think, is my schedule, which usually involves a late-ish breakfast, followed by coffee and snacks (such as these), then a late lunch, so that, by the time dinner rolls around, I don't feel hungry enough to eat a meal, let alone feel motivated enough to make one. So I graze...on chocolate. And nuts. Sometimes I eat jam...with a fork. I eat Big Kid Food. My mother would be so proud.
But, what with my new schedule and routines, I often find myself travelling from library to library, or here to there, and am almost always plagued by a sense of being in a hurry, so that making meals feels more like a hassle than a release - especially when that meal has to be travel-friendly, since whenever I need to eat, I am usually anywhere but in or near a kitchen. My latest strategy in dealing with this has been hummus. It's got protein (not an ideal source, but hey, it keeps me going), it's easy and quick to make, I can make a big batch ahead of time to last me throughout the week. And, it's an easy way to get my vegetables in, which I always stress about, because I'm crazy and food obsessed, and sometimes I worry that I will become sick of malnutrition, and find myself sitting in a doctor's office, feeling excessively vulnerable and awkward (probably because I will be wearing a paper shirt because doctors like to make you take your clothes off for some reason), while a doctor shakes his head over me and says, with grave dignity, "You should have eaten your greens."
And so I have taken to eating heaps of broccoli and cucumber with hummus, so I present it to you, in the hopes that you will enjoy it, and that it will also help stave off irrational fears of not eating enough vegetables (if you happen to have any, in which case, you have my utmost support and understanding). It's made with red lentils, which I almost always have on hand, and love, because they are so easy and quick to cook. I would use chickpeas...but I ran out, and am trying to use up the things I have in my cupboard. So this "hummus" is smoother than one made with chickpeas, owing to the lentils, so it's easier to make in the blender. But still delicious! I swear.
Red Lentil Hummus
Tangy, with a hint of sweetness, this is my go-to hummus recipe, and works as well with chickpeas as with lentils.
1/2 cup Red Lentils
1 1/4 cups Water
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup Lemon Juice (fresh or bottled)
1/3 cup Tahini
2 Garlic Cloves
1 tsp Bragg's Liquid Aminos or Soy Sauce
1 tsp Honey or Agave Nectar
1/2 tsp Ground Cumin
1. Stir together lentils, water and salt in a pot, cover and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce and simmer, covered, over low heat until all the water has been absorbed, approximately 10 - 15 minutes.
2. In a blender, add together lemon juice, tahini, garlic cloves (whole), bragg's or soy sauce, honey or agave, and cumin. Add cooked lentils and puree until smooth. You may have to pause the blender to stir and scrape down the sides a few times to make sure that everything is incorporated.
3. Pour into a container and store, sealed, in the fridge, for up to a week. Enjoy with veggies and even on salads as a dressing.