If you have been reading here for any time at all, then you know I have two children. Boys. First grade and pre-K. If you have been reading for a bit of time, you might know that those two boys are vegetarian. Like me. I’m sure they will eat meat at some point but for now, I am the cook in the family and I only cook vegetarian. And to keep things uncomplicated and black and white, the boys are veg.
What you may not know is that my boys, the ones who are, ahem, vegetarians, don’t really eat vegetables. Not for lack of trying. We offer, they decline. They like carrots and will eat an alarming amount of celery if it has peanut butter and raisins on it, but that is pretty much it. And actually, I really should say that Graham (older) will eat broccoli and peas but Spencer (younger, pickier) will not. We went to a friends’ house recently and they served the boys peas and Spencer put one in his mouth at a time and washed it down with a gulp of milk. Just like he was taking a pill.
Do I worry about this lack of vegetable eating? No. I remember my pediatrician saying that ideally a child eats both fruits and vegetables but as long as they eat one or the other, there is no need to worry. Considering that my boys eat fruit at all three meals and sometimes for a snack, and considering that I prefer not to worry if worrying is not necessary, I don’t worry. I also don’t believe in hiding vegetables to try and trick my kids into eating them. If I put a vegetable in something, like this mac and cheese, I tell them it’s there.
So last night, I made squash hummus. My timing was good – Graham’s school is starting a new program where each grade works with a certain vegetable and the rest of the school has an assignment to actually eat that vegetable. This week it is squash. He was actually assigned to eat squash. He was telling me this as I was literally taking it of the oven and he looked at me with that sweet almost 7 year-old wonder of, “My mom is magic!”
Normally, I would have to say I’m a hummus purist. Hummus is chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, a small clove of garlic, salt, pepper, olive oil, and maybe a sprinkle of cumin. That is how I make it, that is how I like it. Calling something that does not have chickpeas or tahini in it “hummus” bothers me. But adding something, a vegetable I happen to love, to hummus can still be called hummus, according to the Dana Treat rules.
So how was it? Good. Sweeter and more yellow than my regular hummus. Thicker too. Most importantly, my kids loved it. I called it squash hummus – there was no trickery going on here. Spencer requested that I keep his squash separate and when I told him that was impossible, he just dug in anyway. I was helped by the fact that I made flatbreads to go with it which fascinated the boys. They scooped, ate, and scooped again. The other boy in my family – that would be my husband – was equally smitten with both the flatbreads and the hummus, the latter of which he started eating with a spoon when the bread ran out.
Two notes. The hummus recipe calls for a 2/3 pound butternut squash. I know we live in squash country and they grow nice and big in our climate, but I have never seen anything close to a squash that small. In many grocery stores, they sell pre-cut and seeded chunks of squash which is what I bought. It doesn’t matter what type it is. And if you suffer from yeast/dough fear, this flatbread is a great place to start. It is foolproof and if you roll it into shapes that are other than circles, it will look extra cool.
Adapted from Fresh from the Garden
Makes about 3 cups
All food should be done to your taste but I think this is especially true of things like hummus and salad dressing. Start with this recipe and then add more olive oil (or more water) if you want a looser consistency and be sure to add more salt if it needs it. I added a bit more lemon juice to mine too.
1 small squash (about 2/3 pound)
1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 small garlic clove, minced
2 tbsp. tahini paste
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. water
Sea salt and coarsely ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Cut the squash in half and scrape out the seeds. Drizzle the cut surfaces with olive oil, then wrap it in foil. Bake for about an hour – until a knife easily pierces the flesh. Set aside to cool enough to handle.
Scrape out the squash flesh into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Add the chickpeas, garlic, tahini, lemon juice, a large pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper. Pulse to combine. With the machine on, pour the olive oil and then the water through the feed tube. Stop and scrape down the sides, then continue to process until you have a nice smooth consistency. Adjust the seasoning to your taste.
Makes 6 medium-sized breads
I make bread often and it is rare, unless I am making the no-knead version, to have the dough actually double in size in a short period of time. Don’t worry about it, just continue with the recipe.
1½ cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp. dried yeast
2 tbsp. fresh rosemary, finely chopped, plus extra for topping
1 tbsp. olive oil plus extra for brushing
Place the flour in a medium bowl and add the yeast. Add 2/3 cup tepid water, the rosemary, olive oil, and a pinch of salt, and start mixing it all together to form a rather sloppy dough. If your mix is too dry, add a bit more water. If the mix is too wet, add a little more flour.
Once you have a ball of dough, take it out of the bowl and knead on a floured surface for 5 minutes, until it is elastic and slightly tacky. Leave the dough to rest in a warm place under a damp kitchen towel for 1 hour; until it has about doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Break off about 1/6th of the dough and, using your hands, roll it into a ball. Place on a floured surface and roll out to a thickness of about 1/8th of an inch. Repeat until you have used all the dough. Transfer to the prepared sheets and brush each flatbread with olive oil. Sprinkle with a little salt and more rosemary.
Place the sheets in the oven for 12 to 15 minutes, until the surface of the breads starts to bubble and turn golden brown. Don’t cook them too long or they will turn into cardboard. Serve immediately.