Dinner Hummus with Spiced Chicken and Cauliflower
In America, hummus has largely been designated as a snack food—a little nosh to tide you over until the next meal or to absentmindedly nibble while focusing on something else. I often turn to hummus and veggies as a makeshift appetizer while cooking. It’s substantial enough to quiet a rumbling belly while light enough to not ruin dinner.
But sometimes hummus itself is dinner—full stop and with no regrets. Because when you abandon the store-bought tubs and make your own hummus, whipped and dreamy with formidable glugs of tahini and olive oil and just enough lemon and garlic to highlight the decadence of it all, everyone’s favorite appetizer suddenly becomes worthy of main-dish status.
Serving hummus at the center of the table is common practice in the Middle East, where it’s eaten for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The creamy chickpea spread is often topped with sautéed mushrooms or eggplant, browned ground lamb and onions, saucy fava beans, or similar hearty add-ons. I’ve tried (and adored) all of these versions, but the dinner hummus of my dreams is capped with a generous layer of chicken and cauliflower. Flavored with a shawarma-inspired array of spices—cumin, smoked paprika, coriander—and sautéed with plenty of onions, buttery pine nuts, and sweet-tart currents, hummus is transformed into a fully satisfying meal.
Just like snack-time hummus, dinner hummus tastes best with pita (though if a gluten-free friend is joining the dinner table, I also make sure to have a sturdy gluten-free cracker on hand so they can dip with abandon). Start with pita that is either super fresh and plush or cut into wedges, drizzled with a little olive oil, and lightly toasted until crisp and golden. With a few pita rounds between us, my husband and I can swipe our way through an embarrassing amount of this hummus. With a glass of wine in hand and, if I’m feeling up to the task, a green salad on the table, dinner is served.