We’ll start our first Spicy Sunday with one of my favorite spices… Sumac!!
No, this isn’t the nasty vegetation that causes terrible rashes and itching…. It’s actually the berry from a variety of trees and shrubs that is not only a delicious spice to add interest to your food, but it’s a healing spice!! Typically it is found across the Middle East and is featured widely in their cooking. There is a variety that grows wild in North America as well.
The berries are typically dried then ground into a deep red powder. To me, the predominant flavor is one of citrus!! It’s not really sour, just more like the zippy flavor of dried lemon zest. It compliments so many Persian and Mediterranean flavors, but I must admit my favorite use is topping Hummus and sprinkled all over Ash Resteh (Persian New Years soup!!). It makes all veggies, meats, fish and eggs taste Better!!!
But there’s another reason to search out this aromatic spice… It’s a healer!!!! It almost sounds too good to be true!! Over the centuries different cultures have used it as a laxative, expectorant, cough syrup, diuretic, to treat gas, treat hemorrhoids and many other treatments!! It is packed full of vitamin C and the berries can be made into a tea that can ease colds and respiratory distress!! Simply crush some of the berries and infuse in a pitcher of cold water for a few hours (brewing it hot will destroy the Vitamin C ).
It is easy to find the dried Sumac berries, or ground Sumac in Middle Eastern markets.
Here’s my recipe for Perfect Hummus… Be sure to sprinkle 1-2 tsp of ground sumac on top before serving!!!
3 cups cooked garbanzo beans (or 2 cans drained)
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/3 cup tahini
1/2 tsp sea salt
4 cloves of garlic
Drizzle of olive oil
Throw beans, lemon juice, garlic and tahini in food processor of high speed blender and let ‘er rip!!! Keep processing til creamy smooth, add salt.. If it’s too thick add some more lemon juice… Place in a shallow bowl and drizzle with olive oil…
Sprinkle with ground Sumac!!
(I’ve found that using my Vitamix to blend this in two batches yields the absolutely creamiest Hummus you’ve ever tasted!!!