I think we all make the occasional mistake of preparing rather more food than we need, don't you? A few weeks ago, we had a party to celebrate my son's birthday and high school graduation, a party for which we had a lot of Middle Eastern food because A. we're part Greek, and B. everyone loves Middle Eastern food, right? And so they did, but when the cake had been consumed, the dust had settled, and the glasses were cleared away, we found ourselves with a surplus of leftover hummus. While the quantity in no way approached that shown in the picture (the current Guinness World Record holder, weighing in at a mighty 881 lbs, on a plate measuring some fifteen feet across), the fact remains that there's only so much pita and crudités you can eat before the thrill begins to wear off.
So, how to use up this beauteous bounty? It was one of those post-party days when you have a lot of some stuff (in this case, hummus; there were also a fair number of Kalamata olives) but not a lot of other things, combined with a complete lack of inclination to go shopping. Fortunately, there were enough staples on hand to whip up something that turned out quite beautifully. It's sort of like pastitsio, only I tossed the pasta with - you guessed it! - hummus, and replaced the traditional béchamel topping with a creamy sauce incorporating even more of that garlicky amalgam of chickpeas, tahini, and lemon juice. For a random weeknight experiment, it was a great success, and was so popular that it was all eaten within 24 hours, which may represent some kind of casserole-eating record, even for our hungry house. Definitely one to make again; probably the day after our next big party!
Baked Hummus and Pasta Casserole
~ 1 tbsp. olive oil
~ 1 cup onion, chopped
~ 1 tbsp. garlic, minced
~ 2 cups cooked brown lentils, mashed
~ 1 tsp. each: salt, basil, parsley, cinnamon, chili powder
~ 1/2 tsp. each: cinnamon, oregano
~ 1/4 tsp. each: nutmeg, cayenne pepper
~ 1/2 cup dry red wine
~ 1 15 oz can fire-roasted tomatoes, including liquid
~ 1 cup chopped black olives
~ Fresh black pepper to taste
~ Preheat the oven to 400.
~ In a large, deep skillet or wok, heat oil, and sauté the onion and garlic over medium-high heat until golden, about 5 minutes.
~ Add the mashed lentils and seasonings, and continue cooking about 5-7 minutes more.
~ Pour in the wine, stir to combine and cook another minute or two, until the alcohol smell dissipates.
~ Add the tomatoes and cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure it doesn’t stick (you can add a splash of water if necessary).
~ Stir in the chopped olives, remove from heat, and set aside.
~ 1 tbsp. vegan margarine (e.g., Earth Balance)
~ 1 tbsp. all purpose flour
~ 2 cups prepared hummus, homemade or store bought
~ 2 cups warm, unsweetened nondairy milk (I used soy)
~ Salt and pepper to taste
~ Shot of hot sauce
~ Dash of nutmeg
~ In a saucepan, melt the margarine over low heat and whisk in the flour to make a roux.
~ Begin gradually adding the soy milk, whisking constantly.
~ Mix in the hummus, salt, pepper, hot sauce, and nutmeg, stirring thoroughly to combine.
~ Continue cooking, stirring constantly, until thickened (about 5-10 minutes).
~ 12 oz. penne or ziti, cooked and drained according to package directions, then tossed with 1/2 cup prepared hummus.
The Assembly~ Spread the pasta evenly in the bottom of a greased casserole (mine is 9 x 13").
~ Cover with the filling, then pour the sauce over the top, smoothing with a spatula.
~ Sprinkle with a little paprika and parsely for garnish
~ Bake at 400 for 20-25 minutes, until golden; if you like, raise the heat to 425 for the last few minutes to brown it a bit more.
~ Allow to sit for about 10 minutes before slicing. This is pretty filling, so a nice green salad and a glass of cold, white wine should be all you need to round out the meal.