Lunch Last Week: Hummus Platters with Roasted Beets, Fennel & Medium-Boiled Eggs
Not all parts of Brooklyn are the same, despite the worldwide branding, etc. For a while last year, my office was in East Williamsburg, and I rode through a cross-section of the borough on my way from once-dowdy and now maybe a little too hip Prospect Heights to industrial-chic East Williamsburg. Anyway, given those nuances, my favorite place for non-brown-bag-lunch days near work was Newtown, a tiny Middle Eastern vegetarian joint whose nuance clearly designated it ‘Burg-ian, not Heights-ish, but anyway, on indulgent days there, I ordered the most amazing halloumi sandwich (homemade focaccia, herbed cream cheese, mushrooms, eggplant, greens, tomato, and fried halloumi). On regular days, the sabich platter was mine.
Sabich refers to the combo of hummus, eggplant, and hard-boiled egg (I posted about a sabich sandwich once), and a bite of that on fresh pita topped with harissa? That’s one of my top foods.
But lunch out is a treat for me. And so this post is about making sabich-like hummus platters at home–with the same kind of make-ahead approach as the Brisket Burrito Bowls from the other week. The components come together with just a little work on Sunday, then become a daily dose of beautiful, healthful, enviable lunch sustenance.
Because of the season, I nixed eggplant and chose beets and fennel as my vegetables instead. I made hummus using beans from a can, because I didn’t have dried chickpeas to cook and Sunday afternoon was busy. I added a little extra green, and spice, with a simple harissa-like herb mixture used for garnish. Then I kept the protein level high with the sabich-like addition of an egg, medium-boiled and sliced each day.
If there are those among you who prefer the sandwich format over the platter, these very same ingredients will deliver you an excellent veggie and hummus sandwich–just spread on the hummus and green harissa, then pile up sliced eggs, roasted beets, and fennel. Read on below for recipes and guidelines for putting together your very own lunchtime hummus platters, all based on the lunch I ate each day last week.
**How to Make Hummus Platters for the Week**
I’ve shared about a million different iterations of hummus that might inspire you: classic creamy hummus, herby avocado hummus, lentil hummus. This particular batch was made with two cans of chickpeas, 3/4 cup olive oil, 1/2 cup tahini, 2 teaspoons of salt, 2 cloves of garlic, and the juice of 2 lemons–all blended together in the food processor, enough for about 8 hummus bowls. You can almost always find some ingredients for hummus at home–here’s how to work with what you have.
Roasted beets are really easy to make. Place a couple of (unpeeled) beets on a baking sheet and toss with a tiny bit of olive oil. Bake at 425°F for about 1 hour, until a knife slides in with no resistance. Remove from the oven and let cool. Remove the skin with the help of a paring knife, then cut the beets into slices or cubes. If you don’t like staining your cutting boards red, pick up yellow beets. For 8 servings, roast 8 small or 4 large beets.
This weekend, I tried to convince eggplant-loving friends that roasted fennel is winter’s alternative to grilled eggplant. Believe it or not, I love how sweet fennel retains its texture even when roasted until a golden crisp. If you’re not into the licorice flavor of raw fennel, know that the roasted stuff is much, much milder. For 8 servings, roast 3 large fennel bulbs, sliced thinly.
I hate when hard-boiled eggs get solid and sort of flaky in the yolk, so I decided to undercook my egg just a tad. I added eggs to boiling water and cooked for exactly 8 minutes before removing to a bowl of ice water to cool. I kept the eggs in the fridge and cracked and sliced them when I packed each day’s lunch. Count on one egg per serving.
Garnish: Spicy Green Harissa + Sesame Seeds
The dollop of green harissa as garnish was one of the elements that really made this dish, though you can of course skip it if enough is enough. I changed up the recipe linked to a bit, using parsley instead of cilantro and a tiny spoonful of homemade (red) harissa instead of the serrano (you could also use chili flakes). I also skipped the spinach and cut down on the olive oil. One batch was more than enough to last all week.
Bread + Packing Notes
I loved eating my platter with slices of an olive loaf we picked up on Arthur Avenue–the Bronx’s Little Italy–over the weekend. But of course, you can use whatever you want here: your favorite bakery’s loaf, pita or naan, gluten-free crackers, homemade seeded cornbread, or fresh no-knead bread cooked in your Dutch oven.
If you’re eating at home, you can arrange everything on one platter as above: beets and fennel next to the hummus, the sliced egg beside the bread, and everything topped with sesame seeds and a spoonful of harissa. If you’re packing lunch for work, things can get messy. Use a bento-box type system if you have, otherwise try packing the hummus in its own little container and everything else in one shallow container. And, let’s be honest, maybe the lunch won’t look as pretty at work as it did at home. But it’ll still be delicious.