Black Bean Hummus with Queso Fresco Plus MVK’s *Like* of the Week

I love my early morning summer walks. I run into geese, chickens, and Dexter the Cat!

I love my early morning summer walks. I run into geese, chickens, and Dexter the Cat!

A few weeks back The Eater of the House and myself were invited to a dinner party and the request was to bring either an appetizer or dessert. Since I had the time and the urge to cook a little bit, I made some chocolate chip cookies with coconut, but wasn’t really sure what to make for an appetizer. Be forewarned, if I am cooking for a group of people either at my home or for a potluck, I almost always try something new. Certainly not the wisest of decisions (the rational voice in my head is always questioning why?!), but I love trying something new to me and introducing it to guests. And I truly hit the jackpot with this dip.

This incredibly flavorful black bean dip has a little bit of heat, a hint of garlic and crunchy onion, and a combination of lime juice and red wine vinegar that is so good that after one bite I moved the plate closer to me with the hope the other guests wouldn’t notice. It was so delicious, I made it the next day just for myself!

I searched high and low in the grocery store and couldn’t find queso fresco cheese, so I used feta in place and it was just as good. This appetizer will make vegans and those who don’t eat dairy happy if you leave off the cheese as well as those who are looking for a healthy, flavorful dip that isn’t terribly heavy or rich. I thought it would be terrific as a vegetarian burrito filling or as an accompaniment for eggs!

black bean dip
Black Bean Hummus with Queso Fresco

This recipe first appeared in the April 2015 issue of Cooking Light magazine.

Can’t find queso fresco? Crumbled feta cheese can certainly be substituted, or if looking for a dairy-free version, just add extra onion and cilantro. I also added a couple tablespoons of water to make it more dip-like as I found it a little dry without it.

1 tablespoon tahini (roasted sesame seed paste)
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 (15-ounce) can unsalted black beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons water
1 garlic clove
1/2 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 tablespoons queso fresco
1 tablespoon chopped red onion
2 teaspoons chopped fresh cilantro

Combine tahini, lime juice, olive oil, beans, salt, water, and garlic clove in the bowl of a food processor. Add vinegar, cumin, and crushed red pepper to food processor with black bean mixture; process until smooth. Top with queso fresco, onion, and cilantro.

onionsMVK’s *Like* of the Week: Pickled Onions
This is more like my love of the week. Or month. Or year. I decided at the beginning of the summer to make some pickled onions to go with the burritos I was making. O. M. G. They are the best (and easiest) thing you can make to add flavor to your food! I take 3/4 cup of apple cider or red wine vinegar, 1/4 cup of water, and add some diced red onion. They last forever and are so good! I’m a big onion fan, so this just adds enhanced flavor with a little bit of a zing. I especially like putting them on a warmed corn tortilla with melted cheese, a scrambled egg, and some avocado for a really tasty breakfast!

I found this article, which gives great instruction on how to make quick pickled onions or you can do what I do. Either way, I hope you find a new delicious food accompaniment!

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Dining With “The Tiger”

I thought this would be fun to share this morning!

The other evening I had my monthly book club. This month we read John Vaillant’s The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival (well, actually, I only made it to page 60). We decided the theme for dinner would be food related to the tiger and his menacing trek in Russia, near the China border. The main dish was a delicious, just-right spicy rice noodle and pork stir fry that I’m still dreaming about, made by my friend Deb, and my assignment was appetizers. Instead of the location, I opted for the colors of the cat: orange, black, white, and red (for the obvious). After much consideration, this is what I made.

Orange Crudités with Black Olive Tapenade
This is basically the olive vinaigrette I make in this recipe. In a blender or with a mortar and pestle (I chose the latter, but that’s only because my beloved Oster is no longer with us, and I don’t like his replacement. A mortar and pestle make it more “rustic”; in other words, more chunky than if you used a blender.). Take about half a cup of black Kalamata olives, a couple of garlic cloves, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, a little bit of roasted red peppers. Blend or grind all the ingredients together until it forms a somewhat thin paste. Place in a small bowl and surround it with the tiger’s orange stripes—orange pepper slices and baby carrots!

Smoked Salmon with Fresh Radishes
On a serving platter, add thinly sliced radishes and top them with a tiny piece of smoked salmon. In a small bowl, take some low-fat sour cream and snipped chives, about 2 tablespoons or so, and mix. Add a dime-size dollop of the sour cream mixture atop each radish. If you’re feeling really artistic, arranged chive spears on each hors d’oeuvre!

Have you ever had a themed dinner? What did you make?