Roasted Red Pepper Lentil Hummus

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With the full wrath of summer upon us, I’m trying to eat as many cooling raw veggies as possible. But what to dip them in? Something light, healthy, and full of protein? Something delicious? I have just the ticket. I’m not too crazy for your run of the mill store bought hummus, it tends to be really high in calories for the tiniest bit, and made with things like canola oil. Even the better ones out there have some protein, but not a great amount. So I went about making this recipe that is light and delicious, with no added oil, and a lot more protein! Lentils are a great improvement on chickpeas in my opinion, more nutrient dense and less mealy. Lentils are also packed with folate- 1 cooked cup provides 90% of the required amount- and they are high in protein, potassium, fiber, and iron. So go ahead and cut up some carrots and broccoli, and feel free to snack to your heart’s content!

Roasted Red Pepper Lentil Hummus

Makes about 3 cups

1 cup dry red lentils
3 cups broth or water
1 small red bell pepper
1 small yellow bell pepper
2 red jalapeños
1/3 cup tahini
6 cloves garlic
Juice of 2 lemons
1 tsp salt
Garnish: Sriracha, a spoonful of pine nuts, and a pinch of paprika

Bring the lentils and water to a boil, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about 20 minutes or until soft. It’s ok to over cook them a bit since they will be blended anyway. I used about 1.5 cups of the cooked lentils for the hummus, so you might have a bit leftover.
Turn the broiler on in the oven and lay all the peppers on a foil lined pan. Broil the peppers until blackened on all sides, turning with tongs every few minutes to get all the sides. Once blackened, removed the peppers and place in a colander until cool enough to touch. Remove the blackened skins, stems and seeds. Add cooked lentils, peppers, and all remaining ingredients to a blender (except garnishes) and blend until smooth. Taste to see if you need to adjust the flavor. Top with a swirl of sriracha, pine nuts, and paprika, and serve with cut veggies and/or crackers.

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Golden Gazpacho

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Welp, I meant to do a daily post chronicling my raw cleanse but I got a new job with very long hours and got off track! Oh well, sometimes life gets in the way. I often surround myself with perfectionists but am not one myself. Very often I can’t hep but stop and think how grateful I am to NOT be one. What a waste of time and anguish! I like my imperfections and find that I tend to be a much happier person on average than my perfectionist friends, although that might be because I’m driving them crazy with my ways of doing things, haha.

So I did keep up my cleanse for a total of 3 days, not too shabby I guess. And as a general rule going forward, I like to subscribe to the ‘raw ’til 4pm’ concept. Not that I particularly follow the fruit centered, high carb, low fat principle, but I do like the simple concept of eating 2 raw meals a day.

We had a lovely taco party last night for my family, we made Cuban black beans, guacamole, and all the usual fixings, and I made this Golden Gazpacho as an appetizer. We also set up a huge screen and projector in our backyard and watched movies. We have spent the last month trying to beatify our backyard and turn it into an awesome wonderland. In addition to the 103″ ‘swim-up’ movie theatre,  we turned our once-grass dirt patch into a container vegetable garden, complete with string lights and a fire pit. We planted herbs, corn, watermelon, zucchini, cucumber, pumpkin, butternut squash, tomatoes, peppers, marigolds, eggplant, onions and lettuces! We also installed a drip system so we use much less water than normal watering methods. I can’t wait till something produces a crop so I can make some fancy homegrown recipes to share with you.

I have never actually had gazpacho before, the idea of cold soup did not interest me, but as I was cooking in the hot kitchen yesterday it started to sound like a pretty good idea. The sweeter the corn you can find, the better.

Golden Gazpacho

Makes 8 servings

3 ears of corn + 1 for garnish

2 gigantic heirloom yellow tomatoes

1 cucumber, peeled

1 serrano pepper, deseeded

1 yellow bell pepper, deseeded

3 tbs coconut sugar or raw brown sugar

1 tbs salt or to taste

1 tsp cayenne pepper

1 yellow onion

10 cloves of garlic

black pepper to taste

1/2 tsp paprika

1 avocado, diced for garnish

1 bunch chives, diced for garnish

 

Combine everything but the garnish items in a high speed blender and blend until smooth- this took mine 5-10 minutes, a pretty long time!

Taste and adjust seasoning as you see fit.

Store in a big bowl in the fridge for about an hour so it chills and the flavors mingle.

To serve, ladle into individual bowls and garnish with raw corn kernals, avocado slices, and a sprinkling of chopped chives.

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sorry it’s blurry, but here’s our new outdoor movie theater!

here is our veggie patch, all the boxes built by my hand husband! top left is the before picture, with my brother and husband dutifully getting the dirt patch and boxes ready. top right and bottom are after!

here is our veggie patch, all the boxes built by my handy husband! top left is the before picture, with my brother and husband dutifully getting the dirt patch and boxes ready. top right and bottom are after!

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Deliciously Raw Summer Squash Hummus and a Mediterranean Avocado Wrap

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Day 2 of my raw food cleanse and I slept like a baby. In fact, I slept in till noon (which felt fantastic, thank you!) so I skipped breakfast and went straight for lunch. First up I knew I had promised a fresh made hummus recipe yesterday, and then I thought a nice sandwich would be just the thing to go with it. How do you get a sandwich on a high raw diet? I found these amazing raw wraps at Whole Foods, made from flax, apple, and zucchini, they taste like sweet whole wheat tortillas. However if you can’t find something like this, big swiss chard leaves make the perfect wrap too.

The key to raw hummus is switching the chickpeas out for summer squash. This is great for those who don’t easily digest legumes and it also drastically reduces the calorie content. The best part is you really wouldn’t know it isn’t a chickpea-based hummus unless you were told. I love how it has a looser texture too due to the moisture in the squash, making it easier to use as a dip– no broken off chips!

The Mediterranean Avocado Wrap below looks…’too healthy to taste good’…I am aware. But, it really was a superb combo of flavors! The flatbread I used had a lot of sweetness to it, so if you are going with the chard leaves, I recommend adding a diced up date to balance the acidic and savory flavors.

Here is my detox meal plan for day 2:

Breakfast: skipped, but had some lemon water first thing

Lunch: A Mediterranean Avocado Wrap with extra sprouts

Snack: 2 cups red grapes

Dinner: A Sunny Curry Crunch Bliss Bowl without the quinoa, and add some pumpkin seeds

After dinner: 2 scoops of sun warrior protein with almond milk, (it’s like chocolate milk) 🙂

For a workout, I’ll just do some upper body weights because my legs are killing me from yesterday’s run. I like to do interval sprints when I run so it’s not just a long monotonous slog, and it leads to very sore muscles!

Ok, back to the food, here is the hummus recipe and sandwich/wrap recipe:

Deliciously Raw Summer Squash Hummus

makes about 1.5 cups

2 summer squash (either yellow crookneck squash or zucchini)

4 cloves of garlic

6 tbs tahini

1/4 cup lemon juice

a big pinch each of coriander, cayenne, and cumin

salt to taste

a dash of Paprika, cold pressed olive oil, and 1 sprig of parsley for garnish

Peel the squash and chop into chunks, removing the stem. Combine everything in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth.

Taste and see if you want to add more spices, I like a lot of cayenne and coriander, but just that initial sprinkle of cumin is enough for me.

Sprinkle the top with paprika, drizzle with the oil, and add some fresh chopped parsley on top.

Now for the wrap!

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Mediterranean Avocado Wrap

Serves 1

1 WrawP flatbread or several chard leaves, rinsed

4 tbs Deliciously Raw Summer Squash Hummus (as above)

1/2 avocado

1 handful of lettuce greens

3 slices of portobello mushroom, marinated for at least an hour or overnight in a small amount of balsamic and olive oil

5 green olives, pitted and slivered

5 cherry tomatoes, slivered

a small handful of sprouts, I used alfalfa

Sriracha for drizzling, if desired

Lay your flatbread or chard leaves out. If using chard, remove the tough ribs and lay the leaves slightly overlapping until you have roughly the area of a burrito tortilla.

Starting about an inch in from one side, spread the hummus over 3/4  of the surface.

Lay the rest of the ingredients out in little vertical rows, very close together. Then drizzle with sriracha.

Gently start rolling the bread/leaves in from one side to the other, tucking the ends in as you go like you would a burrito. The hummus acts like glue, so you might want to dap some on at the end to hold it together.

Gently cut it in half with a super sharp knife if desired.

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Tofu Satay with Chili Peanut Sauce and Cucumber Salad

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Satay is my all time favorite Thai dish. (Although it was originally an Indonesian food, many cultures have their own version of it.) It is listed at number 14 on World’s 50 most delicious foods readers’ poll compiled by CNN in 2011I have made it my mission to try every satay at as many Thai restaurants in Los Angeles as possible. Believe it or not there are like 10 vegan options in this city! I’ve even tried a large number of the actual chicken satays from before I became a vegetarian. After doing this very important research, I’ve concluded that there are 3 main factors that define a good satay- a balanced peanut sauce, (not too sweet, not too sour) a creamy satay marinade, and juicy ‘meat’ with crispy edges. You can’t really mess up the cucumber salad.

Traditionally satay is grilled, but I was out of propane so I baked these in the oven. Still delicious! These tasty skewers are about 120 calories each, with 15 grams of protein.

Tofu Satay with Chili Peanut Sauce and Cucumber Salad

makes about 5 skewers

5 wooden skewers, soaked in water for 20 minutes

1 block of tofu (I used Trader Joe’s High Protein Organic Super Firm Tofu)

1 recipe for Sweet and Spicy Curry Sauce

cucumber salad:

1/2 cucumber, diced

1/4 red onion, diced

2 tbs apple cider vinegar

1.5 tsp raw agave nectar

peanut sauce:

2 tbs peanut butter (I actually used raw almond butter and it still tastes great.)

1 tbs Chili Garlic Sauce, you can find it in the grocery store next to the Sriracha

juice from 1/2 a lime

2 to 3 tsp agave nectar

1 tbs water

slice the tofu into 1″ square chunks, about 1/4 ” thick. dip them one by one into the curry sauce and stack them on the skewers. Set them aside to marinate while you make the rest.

For the cucumber sauce, combine all the ingredients in a bowl and toss to combine, set aside in the fridge.

Peanut sauce is NEVER perfect when you first combine the ingredients, at least not for me! Combine all the ingredients and stir well until smooth, then taste it. You might have to adjust the balance by adding a tiny bit more peanut butter, or adding a tiny bit more water if it’s not saucy enough. Just taste often and make sure the adjustments are incremental.

Preheat the oven t0 400 degrees, or fire up your grill.

For the oven: Thoroughly grease a pan with some oil. I found it was best to use the coconut oil or olive oil spray, and spray the pan generously. Then lay the satay skewers on the pan and lightly spray them as well.

Bake for 15 minutes, then flip and bake for about 5 more minutes, until edges are golden brown.

For the grill: (recommended) Make sure your grill is well-greased and cook the skewers until the edges get charred and crispy. If you have some leftover curry sauce, you can baste the skewers with a little more sauce about halfway through. Handle them very carefully as the tofu can easily crumble.

Serve with the peanut dipping sauce and cucumber salad on the side.

Cowboy Caviar

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Most likely, you have heard of this recipe before. It is the easiest thing to throw together for a summer potluck or barbecue! You can eat it ‘as is’, like a salad, or use it as a dip with tortilla chips, or even pile it ontp a burger. It keeps well in the fridge for several days and has an awesomely fresh Tex-Mex flavor. If you are not going to serve it right away, wait until the last minute to stir in the avocado. Most recipes for Cowboy Caviar call for olive oil and vinegar, but I think the lime juice and avocado provide just the right amount of tangy-fatness, without overpowering the other lovely flavors.

Cowboy Caviar

Makes 6 servings

1 can black beans, rinsed

1.5 cup organic corn

3 green onions, thinly sliced

5 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 red bell pepper, minced

1 jalapeno, minced

3 sprigs of cilantro, chopped

Juice of 3 limes

1 tsp coriander

Salt and pepper

1 avocado, diced

Combine everything in a big bowl. If you are not serving immediately, skip the avocado until serving time. When serving, I like to mash half the avocado and toss all the other ingredients with it thoroughly, then dice the other half and gently fold it in. You can turn any leftovers into chimichangas 😉

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Lemony Grilled Artichokes

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Summer is finally here! Pool parties, beach days, teeny bikinis, fireworks, barbecues! I live for summertime. Last weekend was Memorial Day and we had a lovely time feasting and playing a German card game called Schnautz with our friends on the back deck. A very lazy day. I wanted to make something out of the ordinary for our barbecue, so I went with these grilled artichokes. As my mom always told me, eating an artichoke first makes everything else taste better. I thought it was just a ploy to get me to eat my vegetables, but it turns out to be true! One of the chemical compounds in artichokes, Cynarine, leaves a sweet taste in your mouth.The perfect appetizer! Artichokes have some of the highest antioxidant content of any vegetable. They can help lower your cholesterol and aid digestion. If you have never cooked an artichoke before, don’t worry, it’s really easy!

 

Lemony Grilled Artichokes

makes 4 servings

2 big artichokes

3 lemons

1/3 cup olive oil

4 cloves garlic, minced

salt and pepper, to taste

a dash of red chili flakes

Bring a big pot of water to a boil. Add the juice from 1 lemon.

Using a pair of scissors, cut the thorny tip off of each of the artichokes leaves, then cut the artichokes into quarters, lengthwise (see pictures.)

Drop the quartered artichokes into the boiling water and boil for 20 minutes.

Pull them out with tongs and set aside.

After they have cooled enough to touch them, gently scrape out the furry little centers with a spoon.

Heat a grill to high heat.

Combine the juice from 2 lemons, olive oil, and garlic. Using a brush, coat the artichokes in the lemon mixture, all over.

Sprinkle with salt and pepper and chili flakes.

Using tongs, lay the artichokes on the hot grill and cook about 4 minutes per side, or until lightly charred. Continue basting with the lemon mixture while they grill.

Serve immediately.

These are great as they are, but I had a little of the lemon mixture left over, and you can mix in a couple tablespoons of vegan mayo to use as a dipping sauce for the leaves.

Happy Grilling!

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Mini Chimichangas with Ataulfo Mango Salsa

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Hola! it’s Cinco de Mayo! I’m sorry this picture is terrible haha, it just is. But these Chimis were so good!!! (Do I say that too much? I think I might be saying that too much about my own food.) I started out trying to make chorizo chimichangas, and then I realized, soyrizo is pretty gross, and organic corn and black beans are ten times better. That’s not to say I didn’t think this recipe through! The ‘queso’ is the best part, and I’ve been working on it for a while. I live with several dudes, who are very proudly carnivorous. So, sometimes I cook just for the heck of it, not thinking anyone will eat what I make, because ‘Bacon!’ And sometimes, like with these, my roommates DEVOUR every little morsel, knowing full well that they are vegan, and admittedly, loving every bite.  That’s when I know I have a good recipe. The sweetness of the corn really made these sing. And, there is something sweet, mild, and comforting in the cashew sauce.

 

Mini Chimichangas with Ataulfo Mango Salsa

serves 4

1 tsp peanut oil

1/2 onion, diced

1 jalapeno

2 tbs bell pepper, minced

3 cloves garlic

mounded 1/2 tsp salt

1 cup soaked cashews

1 tbs nutritional yeast (optional)

1/4 cup water

8 flour tortillas (about 6″ diameter)

1 can black beans

1 cup organic corn

enough peanut oil to fill a small pan 1/4″ high

 

Salsa:

2 Ataulfo mangos, diced

1/4 onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 jalapeno, minced

2 tbs bell pepper, minced

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp sugar

1/2 tsp coriander

1 sprig cilantro, chopped

 

First, heat the 1 tsp peanut oil in a small pan. Fry the onions, jalapeno, and bell pepper for about 10 minutes over medium heat.

In a food processor, combine the onions mixture, the garlic, salt, cashews, and water and blend until very smooth. About 5 minutes. Set aside.

Heat oil in a small pan over medium. Fill your little tortillas with 1 tbs black beans, 1 tbs corn, and 1 tbs onion ‘queso’ mix.

Wrap tortilla into a little burrito, then gently lay in the hot oil, folded side down first.

After about 20-30 seconds, flip, and fry another 20 sec. You want them to be golden brown. Have a paper towel lined plate ready for them.

For the salsa, combine all ingredients. Th salsa will last 1-3 days in the fridge.

Serve everything immediately. Although you can make these chimis the day before and heat them up in a low temp oven.

Are you having a Cinco de Mayo fiesta? Here are some other Mexican favorites to round out your buffet:

Black Bean and Butternut Squash Cantina Tacos

Perfect Guacamole

Cilantro Jalapeno Chipotle Hummus

 

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Eggplants Around the World: Eggplant Tempura with Dengaku Sauce

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The final installment of ‘Eggplants Around the World’ is this crispy Japanese Eggplant Tempura. In Japanese cuisine, Dengaku refers to anything glazed in miso and grilled. Usually tempura dipping sauce is very thin and light, but I think a thick Dengaku miso glaze goes perfectly with the mellow eggplant. Tradition be damned!

The key to a light tempura batter is to use a lower gluten flour, (like cake flour, or specific tempura flour) use ice cold water, and stir the batter as little as possible with a chop stick. Because of these efforts to make such an incredibly light batter, you barely even noticed you are eating a deep fried food. But you are. And it is totally worth the smell in your kitchen for the next 24 hours.

Eggplant Tempura with Dengaku Sauce

serves 2

enough oil to fill a medium frying pan about 3/4″ deep (peanut oil works well)

1 japanese or chinese eggplant, sliced into 1/4″ rounds

1 1/4 cup sparkling ice water

1 cup tempura flour or cake flour

Dengaku Sauce

2 tsp miso paste

2 tbs soy sauce

2 tbs coconut sugar or brown sugar

2-4 drops sesame oil (I like the chili-infused kind)

2 tsp mirin

Makes the sauce first. Combine all the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and stir well until the sugar and miso are dissolved. Set aside.

Heat the oil over medium heat. The goal is to get it to about 360 degrees but if you don’t have a thermometer, you can drop a tiny bit of batter into the oil, if it sinks it’s not hot enough, it should hover just under the surface and float up as it cooks.

I kept my sparkling water cold in a mixing bowl by adding a couple ice cubes. Gently sprinkle the 1 cup of flour over the bowl of water. Using a chopstick, stir the mixture gently until JUST combined. There will be very big lumps left, that’s what you want. Just get all the flour ‘wetted’ and then stop stirring.

Have a plate lined with paper towel near by. Add the sliced eggplant to the bowl of batter and submerge them so they are thoroughly coated.

In small batches, use a fork to carefully lower the eggplant slices into the hot oil. Mine were ready to flip in about 20 seconds, but make sure you can see the batter around the edges just starting to turn gold, then flip them and fry for about 10- 15 more seconds. Carefully lift them out with a fork and put them on the paper towel to absorb the excess oil. Continue in small batches until all the eggplant is fried.

Serve immediately with Dengaku sauce.

And that concludes our ‘Eggplants Around the World’ series. We covered Morocco, India, and Japan. For even more eggplant recipes from around the world (or at least my vegan American renditions of them) check out the following:

Ratatouille from France

Sticky Szechwan Eggplant from Southwest China

Baba Ganoush from Mediterranean

Spaghetti with Eggplant Mushroom Meatballs from ItalyIMG_4177

Eggplants Around the World: Moroccan Zaalouk

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Aubergine, brinjal, melongene, garden egg, guinea squash, baingan, melanzana… whatever name you call them, eggplants are awesome. Wikipedia tells me that eggplants, being the night shades that they are, are a relative of the tobacco plant, which might explain my addiction to them (although you’d need to eat thirty pounds in order to get the nicotine equivalent of one cigarette, I still think they are crave-worthy, and certainly better for you!) I was looking for a new eggplant recipe to try and came upon a few really cool dishes from other cultures, so this week I’m going to do three posts about eggplant recipes from different ethnic cuisines. It seems that just about every corner of the globe has their own signature dish to showcase the giant purple berry. First up is a tomato/eggplant dip from Morocco, which can be eaten hot or cold. It’s spicy and rich, perfect for scooping onto pita chips or flatbreads. You can also serve it hot over some rice, or rolled up in a lavash wrap with some shredded cabbage for a quick meal. One generous serving of this yummy spread is about 150 calories.

Moroccan Zaalouk

Makes 3 meal sized servings, 6 appetizer sized servings

1tbs olive oil

1 eggplant

3 large ripe tomatoes

1 tsp salt

1 tsp black pepper

2 tsp harissa

2 tsp paprika

1/4 tsp cumin 

1/8 tsp cayenne

6 cloves garlic, finely minced

1/3 cup fresh cilantro and parsley, mixed

Juice from 1 lemon wedge

3/4 cup water

Peel the eggplant and tomatoes and chop them up. 

Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium/high heat and add the eggplant, tomatoes, and spices, stirring occasionally.

After about 20 minutes, add the garlic and continue to cook, stirring. If the mixture starts to stick and dry out, add a splash of water, only 1/4 cup at a time as needed. 

After another 15 minutes, add the cilantro, parsley, and lemon and cook for 5 more minutes. Smash the eggpplant and tomoto a bit with the back of a fork or potato masher to break them down. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.

Garnish with a little olive oil and fresh chopped parsley if desired. It would also make a complimentary side dish to Moroccan Spiced Stew.IMG_4092

Cannellini Beans with Seven Herbs and Lemon Zest

Lemony 7-Herb White Beans

I had a ton of fresh herbs laying around, and I hate having to throw away food that I wasn’t able to use in time. So I decided to just use all of them in one dish. This accidental savory dish is bursting with flavor! I even took it one step further and took about 1.5 cups of the finished beans and put them in the food processor with some water to make a thick and creamy white bean dip. Add a bit more water and you have yourself a lemony, herby cream sauce that you can pour over pasta, roasted veggies or a green salad. Three dishes in one! A half cup serving has 175 calories, 8 grams of protein, 10 grams of fiber, and 10% of the required calcium and iron. I served these beans over a bowl of quinoa and baby kale, with some sliced yellow tomatoes. A quick and comforting lunch. It’s good hot or cold- an inexpensive and easy side dish to make for 2 or 200 people.

Cannellini Beans with Seven Herbs and Lemon Zest

makes 7 servings

1 bunch of fresh basil

4 sprigs fresh parsley

1 sprig fresh rosemary

1 sprig fresh thyme

2 sprigs oregano

3 green onions

the zest and juice from 1 lemon

8 cloves garlic

1 tsp red pepper flakes

generous salt and pepper

3 tbs first cold pressed olive oil

32 ounces cooked, rinsed, and drained cannellini beans (I used 2x 16 ounce cans)

Remove all stems from the herbs. Combine all the ingredients except the oil and beans in a food processor and pulse until well broken down. (You can also just chop all the garlic and herbs by hand, it’ll just take longer.)

In a large frying pan, heat the oil over medium high heat. Add the herb mixture and cook till it is bubbling and aromatic.

Add the beans and gently toss. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes, till the beans are heated through. Serve hot or cold.

White Bean Dip: blend 1.5 cup of the bean mixture with 1/4 cup of water and 3 tbs tahini. Chill before serving with crudités.

White Bean Cream Sauce/Dressing: blend 1 cup bean mixture with 1/3 cup water.