Many moons ago, I spent my days toiling in the kitchen of the renowned Bottletree Cafe, in Birmingham, Alabama. The hipster hotspot is home to one of the coolest venues in the country. The staff are like family, the food is great, and the vibe is indescribable. Ask any band touring the Southeastern US where they want to play most, and you will hear resounding cries of: The Bottletree!
Part of the vision when they first opened, was to introduce vegan and vegetarian cuisine to the barbecue crowd. After all, in the South, even the vegetables have meat in them. The original menu featured scrumptious, don’t-miss-the-meat meals, including BBQ Tempeh sandwiches, with an unbelievable sauce made by my kitchen boss, the BBQ wizard, Tom Bagby. (Incidentally, while working here, I started to develop a ravenous desire to eat thinly sliced cured meats. I think it started when I was on pastrami slicing duty. What sweet irony, that cooking in Birmingham’s most veg-friendly restaurant would be the unraveling of nearly two decades of vegetarianism. I blame/thank you, Bagby!)
We did lots of dips and spreads. Nibbles to nosh on while soaking up all that good beer at the bar. I got so sick of making plain old hummus that I decided to make it a little more interesting, and came up with this recipe for Jalapeño, Lime and Cilantro hummus. It’s a really tasty spread, capturing some of the best flavors of summer. Tangy lime, fresh cilantro and a little bit of heat from the pepper.
- 398ml (14oz) can of chickpeas – drained
- 80ml (1/3 cup) tahini
- 80ml (1/3 cup) olive oil
- juice of one lime
- 125ml (1/2 cup) loosely packed fresh cilantro
- 1/2 jalapeño – seeded
- 1 clove of garlic – roughly chopped
- 2.5ml (1/2 tsp) sea salt
Okay. Are you ready? Deep breath, and…
Put it all in the blender. Blend for 30 seconds to a minute, until you have a nice smooth consistency and an even green color. Turn off the blender before you stick your finger or spoon into it, and have a taste. Add more salt if you think it needs it.
It’s ready! Fast, easy, and so so good. It keeps well in the fridge for a few days, but it won’t last that long. The flavors really come alive after a few hours, so try to let the ingredients get to know each other for awhile before you serve it.