Although we most often think of hummus as a vegetarian-based appetizer, a recipe of ground beef served over hummus is not new, and is actually quite a popular mezze on the Middle Eastern table. The warm, spiced beef with the creamy hummus creates a wonderful taste and texture pairing that is perfect scooped up with toasted pita bread. Serve with a fresh green salad and this dish can become a favorite dinner during the week.
- For the Hummus:
- 1 1/2 cups canned chickpeas (rinsed and drained)
- 3 tablespoons sesame paste (tahini)
- 2 cloves garlic (peeled)
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/4 cup water
- 3/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste
- For the Beef:
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 onion (diced)
- 2 cloves garlic (minced)
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- Optional: 1/4 teaspoon baharat
- 2 to 4 tablespoons beef stock
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
To make the hummus, add the rinsed and drained chickpeas, sesame paste, peeled garlic cloves, lemon juice, water, and salt and black pepper to a food processor. Puree until completely smooth and add any additional seasoning if needed. Scoop into a bowl and place in the refrigerator while you make the beef. (Note that the mixture will be quite loose but will firm up as it chills.)
To make the spicy beef, add the ground beef to a large skillet or cast iron pan along with the onion, garlic, cumin, coriander, dried oregano, cayenne pepper, black pepper, salt, and baharat, if using. Saute, stirring often, until the meat browns.
Stir in the beef stock to moisten and bring the mixture together. Check the seasoning and balance out the flavors if needed. Keep warm.
Bring the hummus to room temperature and then spoon onto a deep plate or shallow bowl, leveling it off and creating a sort of divot in the middle. Add the beef to the center and serve warm with pita bread on the side.
Baharat means "spices" in Arabic, and is a spice blend used in Middle Eastern (as well as Greek) cuisine. It adds a sweet, smoky flavor to dishes and can include allspice, black peppercorns, paprika, cloves, cumin and coriander seeds, ginger, saffron, nutmeg, turmeric, and cassia bark. In Turkey, it will include mint, and in Tunisia, baharat means a combination of cinnamon, black pepper, and dried rosebuds.
To make the hummus extra smooth and creamy you will want to use dried chickpeas that have been soaked overnight with 1/2 teaspoon baking soda. Then drain, rinse, and simmer in water to cover (with a pinch of salt) for about 45 minutes until tender. You can use 1/4 cup of the cooking water in place of the water in the recipe.
This recipe is delicious as is but is also the ideal dish for adding toppings and garnishes with various flavors and textures. Grilled eggplant would be welcome, or combine halved grape tomatoes with a squeeze of lemon juice, a sprinkle of salt, and a bit of chopped parsley and spoon on top of the beef. You can also add a handful of toasted pine nuts, a drizzle of fruity olive oil, a spoonful of crumbled feta cheese, and some chopped fresh mint. Also, consider serving with lemon wedges and hot sauce on the side.