Put a little spring in your hummus with roasted carrots

This Jan. 20, 2017 photo shows roasted carrot hummus, with pita chips, and crudite at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York. This dish is from a recipe by Elizabeth Karmel. (Richard Drew/The Associated Press)

Hummus generally contains five basic ingredients; chickpeas, tahini, lemon, garlic and olive oil. Once you have these ingredients combined, it is easy to add other herbs, spices and even roasted carrots — like I do here — to flavor and season basic hummus.

In the early spring, I love to roast fresh carrots until they are deeply caramelized and puree them to add to the base of chickpeas and tahini. To deepen the golden color, I add a touch of turmeric. The combined result is a deep golden yellow hummus that is the perfect color for daffodil season.

Served with flatbread for breakfast in some Mediterranean countries, the protein-rich and fiber-filled chickpeas make hummus a good way to start the day. In the U.S., hummus has become a popular appetizer and snack. Although hummus is sold at virtually all supermarkets, it is so easy to prepare that you really should start making it yourself. Frankly, it also tastes much better than store bought.

The secret to creating the creamiest and freshest hummus is making sure that the skins of the chickpeas are removed and discarded. Many brands of water-packed cooked and canned chickpeas come mostly skinless, so this is not as labor-intensive as it may sound and it’s well worth the effort. I tested this recipe both ways and the skinless creamy texture made all the difference in the world. The skin-on version was rougher and chunkier and the texture took away from the delicate nature of the hummus.

Serve the hummus with crudites for a springy colorful snack or appetizer and pita chips. I like to make my own pita chips baked with a light brush of olive oil and seasoned with a sprinkling of coarse salt and za’atar. Once they are seasoned, you can cut them into triangles — six per pita bread is a good size — and bake them in a 350 F. oven until they are crisp.

HUMMUS with carrots

Servings: 16 appetizer-sized portions

Start to finish: 50 minutes

1/2 cup well-roasted carrots, cut into small pieces (about 6 small carrots)

Juice of 2 lemons, plus more as needed (about 2 ounces)

Zest of 1 lemon

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for garnishing hummus

2 generous tablespoons tahini (sesame paste), with some of its oil

2 15-ounce cans drained chickpeas, liquid reserved and skins removed

2 cloves garlic, peeled, or to taste

1 teaspoon sea salt, or more to taste

1/4 teaspoon of white pepper or pinch of cayenne pepper

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

Paprika, a sprinkling for garnish

Curly parsley for garnish

Pita chips (homemade or store bought)

Raw vegetables

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Coat carrots with oil and season with salt. Place on a sheet pan and roast carrots. Remove from oven when soft and browned in places, about 30 minutes depending on the size of your carrots. Cut into small pieces and set aside.

Place carrots in a food processor with the lemon juice, lemon zest, tahini and olive oil and process until smooth, about 1 minute.

Put remaining ingredients except the paprika and the parsley in a food processor and begin to process; add a couple of tablespoons of the chickpea liquid and more olive oil as needed to allow the machine to produce a smooth puree.

The amount will vary every time you make it based on how much liquid is in the chickpeas.

Taste and adjust the seasoning (I often add more lemon juice).

Serve immediately or chilled in a shallow bowl with pita chips and raw vegetables, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with a bit of paprika and some parsley.

Will keep up to five days in refrigerator.

Nutrition information per serving: 129 calories; 81 calories from fat; 9 g fat (1 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 0 mg cholesterol; 220 mg sodium; 10 g carbohydrate; 3 g fiber; 2 g sugar; 3 g protein.

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