Roasted Carrot & White Bean Hummus

Roasted Carrot & White Bean Hummus | Delectably Free

One of the benefits of living in Metro Detroit is the amazing Middle Eastern cuisine. Dearborn, Michigan is home to a large Middle Eastern population, and thus, an amazing selection of Middle Eastern restaurants. It’s no wonder that when Anthony Bourdain visited Detroit to film No Reservations, Al-Ameer restaurant in Dearborn (one of my family’s favorites) was featured in his segment. The food is good. The hummus? Incomparable. Actually, it is comparable – but only if you’re comparing it to any of the other great Middle Eastern restaurants in the area. Otherwise, good luck finding anything to live up to it.

For this reason, I’ve been highly reluctant to post any of my homemade hummus recipes on Delectably Free. Sure, I make homemade hummus from time to time. It’s good. Not always great. But it works in a pinch when I need something to dip my gluten-free crackers in or to dollop on salads. But for the most part, I tend to not make hummus, because I know I can venture not too far from my neighborhood to find the best hummus you can get outside of the Middle East. I lived in New York City for 4 years, and even there, I never had hummus so good. It’s probably an understatement to say that when it comes to hummus, I have high standards and am a bit spoiled.

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Basil-Miso-Walnut Pesto & Panini

basil-miso-walnut pesto (oil-free)I know it’s been some time since I last posted. I’ve really been making an effort to not push myself too much, since every time I do, I seem to suffer some sort of health setback. I was feeling pretty good, though, until I started a new medication to hopefully wipe out what’s left of my Lyme. I was told by many people that this med (Flagyl), when used for Lyme, is no joke and that I would definitely be feeling its effects. So I was pleasantly surprised when I started taking it and felt fine for a few weeks. I guess that was the honeymoon period, though, because ever since then I’ve been noticing a huge increase in my symptoms — constant stiff necks, night sweats, fatigue and word retrieval problems, to name a few.  Supposedly, this is all good, as it means the medicine is doing its job. But it’s not good for me in terms of living an active life, let alone keeping up the pace of this blog while trying not to be a deadbeat employee at work! Eek.

For the above reasons, this recipe has been sitting in my archives, patiently awaiting some sort of post to go along with it. I swear, when I first made this, basil was actually in season and abundant. But if you live near a Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods, you should be able to still find fresh basil to make this recipe. This pesto has been a staple in my diet recently. Something about the nuts, miso and nutritional yeast combo make this taste so — dare I say? — cheesy that my mind at one point was wondering whether I’d somehow accidentally added Parmesan to my Vitamix. Of course, that would be highly unlikely given that I haven’t bought cheese in several years and never have any in the house. But who knows with these new meds I’m taking….crazy things could happen.

I like to make this pesto thick — almost like the consistency of a chunky hummus– so that I can use it as a dip, spread it on sandwiches, or, of course, serve it on pasta. I find that it sticks much better to pasta, too, the thicker it is. In my experience, it will “melt” a bit into a warm pasta enough to coat everything.

roasted vegetable and pesto panini

Here’s a non-recipe recipe for the roasted veggie and pesto panini I’ve been making with this pesto, followed by the actual pesto recipe, which can be used in so many different ways:

Non-Recipe Pesto Paninis:

You’ll need:

  • Two slices gluten-free bread per sandwich
  • Miso-Basil-Walnut-pesto (recipe below)
  • Eggplant, zucchini and red peppers plus some veggie broth for cooking
  • Vegan cheese (I used Trader Joe’s vegan shreds)
  • A tiny bit of oil to spray on non-stick skillet
  • Another skillet to weigh down the sandwich, or a panini press

What to do:

  • First, you will need to roast the veggies. Since I tried to minimize the added oils in this dish, I roasted the veggies in vegetable broth. I sliced one zucchini and one smaller eggplant very thin and julienned a bell pepper. I tossed it in about 1/3 cup of veggie broth in a large baking dish (so veggies could lay flat) and baked at 350 until the veggies were soft (about 30-40 min). I know this is not technically “roasted”, but the veggies got soft enough to use as a nice panini filling.
  • Spread some pesto onto one side of both bread slices (I am pretty liberal in my pesto usage for these)
  • Top each pesto side with a bit of vegan cheese and then a thin layer of veggies.
  • Carefully put both sides together and place on a nice and hot (pre-heated) skillet that’s been sprayed with a little oil.
  • To make these more “panini”-like, I placed a clean, cast-iron skillet on top of the sandwich and pressed down firmly. I let the cast iron sit on the panini while it cooked on one side for about 4-5 minutes over medium to high heat. Then I flipped the sandwich and did the same with the other side, or until it was golden brown on both sides (or slightly browner than golden-brown, as you can see from the picture…)

Basil-Miso-Walnut Pesto:


1 bunch basil

2 tablespoons chickpea miso

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 cup nutritional yeast

1/2 cup raw walnuts

about 1 tablespoon water (plus more as needed)


1. Add all ingredients to a high-powered blender (such as Vitamix) and blend on low-medium intensity until pesto is smooth but still has some green specks.

2. Add more water if necessary until desired consistency is reached (I like mine to be thicker). You can keep this in the refrigerator for a couple days if it’s well covered (I like to use cling wrap and press into the pesto so that it keeps its nice green color).



Hot Spinach Dip

What a funny world we live in. One month, we’re showered with every type of diet and detox recipe imaginable (including here on Delectably Free), the next month we’re teased and lured by Super Bowl party recipes for nachos and junk food, only to face the sweets and chocolate onslaught that is Valentine’s Day. No wonder we’re so schizophrenic about our food habits sometimes.

Then again, I am far from immune to the temptation to shift gears toward the end of January. Maybe it’s the inner party planner in me — I’m the girl who plans fictitious dinner parties I know I’m never going to have (I still am contemplating a recipe round-up post for all my favorite dinner party ideas, for those who are actually motivated to execute on that front). As you can see, I went decidedly re-tox for this dish. No more detox fare here. Processed “cheese”? Check. A hefty dose of (albeit healthy) fat? Check. Something that requires some sort of chip for dipping? Check.

Yes, folks, I’ve gone “bad” for this recipe. But what’s a Super Bowl party without some junk food thrown into the mix? I don’t care if this is a vegan dish packed with 4 cups of fresh spinach. This dip tastes baaad in such a good way; I doubt anyone will find this to be health fare.

On that note, if you’re serving a crowd, I’d suggest a double/triple batch. Between the two of us, my mom and I finished this off in just two sittings (not exactly something I want to brag about here, just stating the facts).

Serves: 4-6

Hot Spinach Dip:

1 cup chopped scallions (about 1 bunch)

4 cups tightly-packed fresh spinach, chopped*

1/2 cup Grapeseed Oil Vegenaise

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

1/2 cup Daiya vegan mozzarella, plus more for topping

1/8 teaspoon sea salt


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

3. Mix all ingredients, except remaining cheese for topping, in a large bowl until combined. Turn out into a shallow baking dish or ramekin and smooth out top. Sprinkle with remaining cheese.

4. Bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, or until bubbly. Serve immediately with favorite gluten-free chip.

* For a healthier twist, use 1/2 spinach and 1/2 finely chopped kale


Walnut Beet Dip

This recipe was inspired by a recipe from Spain: A Culinary Road Trip, which Gennaro bought for me a few years ago after witnessing my sheer excitement every time Spain: On The Road Again (the PBS show with Mario Batali and Gwyneth Paltrow) was on T.V. In anticipation of a honeymoon in Barcelona, I’ve been re-exporing some of the book’s lovely recipes, many of which are simple and accessible, despite the fact that a big-time chef’s name appears on the cover.

I made this dip about a month ago and was instantly addicted. It’s the kind of dip that really makes any type of cracker or bread just a vehicle for the dip, which is rich and flavorful and, dare I say, somewhat healthy to boot (with omega-3 packed walnuts and vitamin-packed beets). I apologize for the rather imprecise measurement of the beets. I was originally not planning on sharing the recipe. But since I veered slightly from the original and enjoyed it so much, I thought I would pass this one on to all of you. I’m sure slight variations on the amount of beet used won’t change the fact that this is one great recipe. The original recipe also calls for water, in addition to much more olive oil that I used, making it more of a puree than a dip, as it is presented here. Feel free to add a bit of water or more olive oil as needed to reach desired consistency.

Walnut Beet Dip:
Adapted from Spain: A Culinary Road Trip

1 cup walnuts

1 1/2 large beets, boiled, peeled and cut into large chunks

2 tablespoons good olive oil

2 tablespoons sesame tahini (I used raw)

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons curly parsley, minced

sea salt


Puree walnuts in a food processor with a sharp blade until finely ground. Add beets, tahini, olive oil, lemon juice and parsley and puree until combined. If the consistency is too thick, you may add a bit of water to thin it out. Add enough salt to taste, plus another spinkle of lemon juice or drizzle of olive oil if desired.


Spinach Cashew Spread

I got the idea to do a spinach cashew spread from one of my favorite blogs, Raw Mazing. While I somewhat veered from the original recipe, I tried my best to keep the proportions similar, as I had been having a rough day of trial-and-error with my recipes. A failed strawberry clafoutis. A failed gluten-free bread. A second failed, though edible, gluten-free bread, which you can see pictured above (it made a great vehicle for this spread!). The bread was tasty, but rose no higher than an inch. I did happen to make a really nice cardamom-rhubarb ice cream (I really, really love that flavor combo), though it didn’t turn out to be all that photogenic (the color was kind of blah, and at that point I was too lazy to really style it up). So for my final test recipe, I wanted something that was as close as possible to a sure thing, but that I could still play around with a bit. I had lots of herbs on hand from my trip to the Greenmarket today — with some new potted varieties for my window sill as well. I like bringing a little bit of nature into my dingy, NYC apartment. So I omitted the sun-dried tomatoes from the original recipe and instead threw in some of my favorite fresh herbs, including some of my new window sill basil.

This cashew spread is great on bread (and can even liven up the most failed of gluten-free breads as well, as I can attest). I could also see it being nice over pasta (zucchini pasta for a raw meal, perhaps?) or even sauteed vegetables.

Cashew Spinach Spread:
Adapted from a recipe by Susan Powers at Raw Mazing

1 1/4 cups raw cashews, soaked for 4 hours, drained and rinsed

1/4 cup fresh chives, chopped

8 fresh basil leaves

2 handfuls (about 2 cups packed) fresh spinach leaves

1/4 cup minced sweet onion

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 cup golden flax seed meal

1-2 tablespoons water as needed

1/2 teaspoon sea salt


Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor and puree until smooth.


Mango-Papaya Salsa


Mango-Papaya Salsa:

1/2 cup diced mango

1/3 cup diced papaya

1/4 cup minced red onion

1 tablespoon minced fresh mint

1 jalapeno, minced

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 teaspoon sea salt


Spicy Avocado Dip

Ever play the game where you ask yourself the one food you could never live without? I love that one. I have to admit that while there are several obvious answers that come to mind, somehow I’m always left with one answer that is clearer than others: guacamole. I love it. I would be content eating it by itself, with a spoon. When I go out for Mexican, the chips and guac order to start is obligatory, but I take it a step further and usually order extra guacamole to go with my meal. Yes, I’d have a pretty hard time ever living without the stuff.

The one thing I’ve noticed about guacamole is that while the same basic ingredients go into every recipe — avocado, lime, salt, onion, tomato — it seems like no guacamole is ever alike. Some are lime-y, some are creamy, some are chunky, others smooth. They range in flavor, texture, and heat, and I love them all.

I decided to call this recipe a dip. Despite the wide range of possible guacamole interpretation, the creamy consistency of this recipe really reminds me of a great dip. I made a big batch on Friday and Gennaro and I enjoyed it over fish tacos. I enjoyed the leftovers the next day with a healthy handful of chips.

Avocado Dip:

2 ripe avocados

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1/2 teaspoons salt

3 scallions, greens topped off

4 jalapenos, seeded and roughly chopped (add back seeds gradually until dip reaches desired heat)

2 plum tomatoes, seeded, roughly chopped

1/2 bunch fresh cilantro


1. Puree avocado, lemon juice, salt and scallions in a food processor until smooth and homogenous.

2. Add remaining ingredients and puree until dip is speckled but smooth, with no large chunks of vegetable remaining.


Vegan Spinach Artichoke Dip

Peanut butter and chocolate. Pineapple and coconut. Apple and cinnamon. There are certain foods that work so well together, one wonders why they would ever be eaten alone. I have, for quite some time, included spinach and artichoke on my personal list of such food pairings. What two vegetables are more addictive together than spinach and artichoke, mixed in a creamy, smooth dip? It’s a shame, then, that since giving up dairy, most restaurant offerings of this dip are now off-limits for me. Luckily, I’ve discovered a more than serviceable — an actually addictive — recipe to keep my cravings satisfied.

A while back, I created a recipe for hot spinach artichoke dip using vegenaise and thickened soy milk. I really loved the recipe, but I found that the results were somewhat inconsistent. Sometimes it would be thick and creamy, other times thin. But the days of inconsistency are over. This dip knocks it out of the park every time. For good results, though, I do not recommend heating this one, which will affect the consistency of the beans in the dip. I still use vegenaise in this recipe, which is made using organic ingredients, and unparalleled in the flavor and texture it adds to the dip.

This is also a great option for a low fat, lower-calorie spinach artichoke dip. You’re eating vegetables, after all. Might as well make everything else a little healthier as well. I also noticed, after creating this recipe, that there is a similar Moosewood recipe out there from their low-fat cookbook. I’ve declared my love for Moosewood on this blog before, so I’d be interested to see how their recipe compares.

Vegan Spinach Artichoke Dip:

1 15-oz. can cannellini beans

1/3 cup vegenaise

3 tablespoons lemon juice

3 scallions, roughly chopped, green part removed

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 14-oz. can artichoke hearts

3 cups baby spinach, loosely packed


1. Using the sharp blade of a food processor, blend beans, vegenaise, lemon juice, scallions and salt until smooth.

2. Add spinach and artichoke and pulse, 10-15 times, or until dip reaches desired consistency.

3. Enjoy. Serve with vegetables or tortillas chips or spread over gluten-free bread.

On a final note, this dip got the seal of approval from Gennaro, who dislikes spinach, let alone spinach blended into a dip. When he said he really liked it, that’s when I knew it was good.