I love serving appetizer trays. I even serve them at dinner parties; it’s the fastest way I know to help a group of folks who don’t know one another feel relaxed and find conversational common ground. Nothing looks more welcoming than a table laid out with a selection of breads, olives, spreads and dips.
It’s super easy to find vegetarian options for appetizer trays. Vegetables and beans lend themselves beautifully to this kind of thing. Two of my favourite appetizers are Red Pepper Crostini (which I also make using assorted colours of peppers) and Braised Pea, Broad Bean and Artichoke Dip. I like to include a nice Guacamole and some Humous, a Middle Eastern food made from chickpeas (also known as garbanzo beans).
I’ve made a number of recipes for hummus over the years, but I recently tasted the Best Humous Ever at a local restaurant called Bill’s. Luckily Bill published a rather aptly named cookbook not too long ago, so now I can make their wonderful hummus whenever I want to.
Best Humous Ever
Slightly adapted from Cook, Eat, Smile by Bill Collison
1 red onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 red pepper, peeled and finely chopped
6 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
2 teaspoons paprika plus extra for garnish
½ teaspoon dried coriander
½ teaspoon cumin
3 garlic cloves, peeled
juice and zest of one lemon
2 tablespoons sweet chili sauce
2 x 400 gram (about 14 ounce) tins of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Heat a tablespoon of the olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat, and sauté the onions and peppers until they are soft. Tip into a blender. Add the remaining olive oil, paprika, coriander and cumin. Grate in the garlic cloves and add the lemon juice and zest as well as the sweet chili sauce. Blitz until smooth.
Add three-quarters of the chickpeas and blend until fairly smooth. Transfer to a serving dish, and carefully stir in the remaining chickpeas. Garnish with paprika and serve.