A Spicy Resolve of Red Lentil Hummus, And Other Things

Another year has poofed.  The hopes of 2011 have gone up in smoke.  We’ve arrived at a symbolic fresh start.  And I stand at the edge of 2012 emptied handed, with no neatly folded, nicely written resolutions to share.  Each year I simply resolve to live life a little more.  To really feel it.

Last year I baked pie.  Made lace curtains.  Finally conquered madame brioche.  Sent more handwritten notes.  Saw Paul Simon sing “ The Sound of Silence.”  Mastered the charcoal grill. And drank my fair share of dark and stormies.

This year I have a new set of wishes. Listen to more Chet Baker.  Drink rosé on random Tuesdays.  Ease into silence.  Shell more oysters at home.  Conversationally work in the word “honey.”  Not fret about the dangers of homemade mayo.  Remove “should” from my dictionary.  Wear the canary yellow fascinator I bought last year out of the house at least once. Put in a shade garden.  And continue to nurture the traditions I’ve sown.

I’ve been working on these traditions for a few years now.  I reset my wishes in January.  Eat salt water taffy on the Cape in June.  Buy a glass pumpkin every October. And make lentils at the start of every new year.  Like any good Italian should would be well advised to do.  While I don’t participate in resolutioning, I do believe a little luck never hurt a gal.  And this is where the lentils come in.

At the very least, it certainly isn’t terrible to have this creamy lentil hummus around.  It’s a plucky spread with some serious heat and a gracing of roasted garlic.  And its charming orange hue takes very well to some Ethiopian flavors I’ve grown quite found of.  So after a quick whirl, the red lentils are laced with the likes of berbere, a blend of about a dozen warm spices that I found in a little metal tin at the South End Formaggio.  If you can’t track it down, you could tackle making your own.  Or even just add a few of the spices commonly found in berbere; cayenne pepper, paprika, ginger, cardamom, and coriander come to mind.

It’s a lovely little dip to let linger in your fridge.  Will it help with your hopes for 2012?  Probably too soon to tell.  But honey, it’s worth a shot.

Spicy Red Lentil Hummus


6 cloves roasted garlic (see directly below)
~ 2 cups dried red lentils
6 cloves
2 bay leaves
kosher salt
1.5 tsp berbere spice (see note)
1/2 tbsp chili garlic sauce
Juice of 1/2 lime
2 tbsp tahini
3 tbsp olive oil, plus additional for drizzling

Roasted garlic

You can roast garlic by cutting about 1/4 an inch off the top of a garlic head.  Rub the head with olive oil and cover it completely with foil; bake in a 425 degree oven until the cloves are sweet, slightly browned, and melty (about 45 minutes give or take).  Gently squeeze the cloves out of their skin.  You'll have extra.


In a saucepan, add lentils, cloves, bay leaves, and a pinch of salt and combine with enough water to cover the lentils by 1 inch; cook until the lentils are softened (about 10-15 minutes).  Drain any excess water, remove the cloves and bay leaves, and place the lentils in a food processor along with the remaining ingredients; puree.  Salt to taste and adjust with additional seasoning as needed.  Drizzle with more olive oil (about a teaspoon or so) before serving.

Makes about 2 cups

-Berbere is an Ethiopian spice blend that often includes fenugreek, dried chiles, paprika, ginger, cardamom, coriander, nutmeg, cloves, garlic, and allspice.

-This hummus is also fantastic with some crumbled feta on top.

-Oversized homemade croutons proved to be the perfect vehicle for the spread.  Carrots also.  It's spicy, so you'll want something that won't fight with it.


  1. One of my goals is to cook more lentils, so this is a good start!

    Happy New Year!

  2. Sounds yummy and really good for you!
    I'm totally fascinated with the MIT glassblowing things, clicked on your link, wanting a glass pumpkin already! Will visit my local glassblowing place and see if they'd consider doing something like that.

  3. Wishing you the most wonderful new year! And I'll fill my glass with a little more rose this year as well! :-)

  4. Have a great 2012!!! Sounds lovely!

  5. there's no reason chickpeas should* get all the hummus glory! nice!
    *oops. :)

  6. Oooo, lentil hummus! I have to try this!

    Good luck with your goals for 2012, and I hope you wear the canary yellow fascinator as often as possible because it sounds fabulous!

  7. Thanks Em! I love lentils, I love tahini. I had some of each separately, forlornly adorning my pantry until Friday night, when I read this post. Now I have Spicy Red Lentil Hummus. Magic!