Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Parmesean Zucchini Crisps and Herbed White Bean Hummus

I honestly have no idea what I'm going to write about today.  There is so much going through my mind that it's hard to get it to settle on one thought.  My home and world are in chaos right now and it seems my thoughts are mirroring the turmoil of my environment.  Nothing is settled, nothing is where it's supposed to be.  And it's very difficult to live like that while attempting to maintain your sanity and some semblance of a normal life.

We're getting ready to make a big move.  To a new country and a new continent.  And while the prospects of all the exploring, learning from new cultures, sampling new cuisines and expanding my understanding of my own cultural heritage are so exciting I can't believe that I will be lucky enough to spend years living in Europe, I am still terrified of the whole moving process.  I've moved before, I'm a Navy wife after all, but this is not your average move across town or even across the US.  I feel as if I might as well be moving to a new planet.  Even with all the advice I've gotten from friends who've gone through the process and even complete strangers kind enough to try to ease my fears, I know down in my gut that I will feel unprepared and utterly unglued until the day we arrive in our new home country.
My house is looking like it's come unglued these days too.  My bedroom furniture is in the living room because we hadn't yet put down that wood flooring we had intended to get taken care of two years ago.  My laundry room looks like an earthquake hit in the aftermath of the "Great Rat Saga of 2013" (a story for another day perhaps, though critter stories don't really seem to go well with food).  The master bath is half tiled and half painted and I'm sharing bathroom space with my two sons, a experience that is not highly recommended.  We're sorting through clothes and furniture, deciding what we'll need in our new home and what we can sell or store until we get back to the States several years from now. 
My mind feels as unsettled as my belongings.  Too many thoughts, too much to take care of or worry about, and no time to rest or be rearranged into a place more peaceful or calm.  I have a feeling that I will be mentally and physically exhausted until August when we might perhaps (if all goes well and the German home Gods smile upon us) be happily ensconced in a new home and may begin enjoying all that our new European surroundings have to offer.

Until then, I offer you snacks.  It's not much to look at, but I highly recommend giving the hummus a try.  It's probably the best I've ever had and the simplest too.  And maybe a good, wholesome snack will help settle my soul during the chaos of what is to come.  I wish the same peace for you.
Parmesean Zucchini Crisps
Makes enough for 1 or two people to snack on.
For the printable recipe click here.

These crisps are an easy way to eat up a surplus of summer zucchini very quickly.  It seems like a lot, but trust me, after being baked the zucchini lose quite a bit of volume and you'll be surprised at how quickly they fly out of the bowl.  I have managed to eat the whole batch all by myself!

4 small to medium zucchini
sea salt
cooking spray, an olive oil mister or coconut oil spray
2 tbs grated parmesean cheese

Preheat your oven to 225 degrees.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment or a silicone liner (I prefer the parchment because it absorbs some of the moisture from the zucchini).

Using a mandoline or very sharp knife, slice the zucchini into 1/8 inch thick rounds (that was the number 2 setting on my mandoline).  Lay the zucchini out in a single layer on the baking sheets and lightly spray with whichever spray your prefer.  You can even lightly brush the zucchini with olive oil if that's all you have.  Very lightly sprinkle the zucchini with the sea salt.  You don't want to over salt them because as they cook they will shrink and lose moisture and the salt will become concentrated.  I use maybe a tsp for all of the zucchini, perhaps even less.  Sprinkle with the cheese and place in the oven.  Bake for 1 hour and then remove from the oven.  Flip the crisps and return to the oven, rotating your baking sheets top to bottom and back to front on the way in.  Continue baking until the zucchini are completely crispy, 30-40 minutes.

The crisps only stay crispy for a short while, so enjoy them right away.  You may be able to re-crisp them in a warm oven for a few minutes if you have leftovers.  But all that zucchini ends up being eaten very quickly!

Herbed White Bean Hummus
Makes about 2 cups.

This is by far the easiest hummus I've ever made.  There's no tahini to stir in or peeling of garbanzo beans.  You could, of course, cook your own beans and you might get a better hummus as a result.  But honestly, how many of us are going to do that just for a snack?  I simply used canned white beans and was extremely happy with the texture and flavor.  Use whatever herbs you have growing in your garden or hanging out in your crisper drawer.  That's the beauty of a dip like this, there are no set rules.  I used thyme and rosemary and found it to be just to my liking.  I briefly saute the garlic and herbs to bring out the flavor and mellow the garlic a bit, but it isn't absolutely necessary.  If you're in a pinch, just throw it all in the blender and go for it!

1 can white (or cannellini) beans
juice of 1 lemon
1 clove garlic, minced
4 tbs chopped fresh herbs (such as rosemary, thyme, basil, parsley or chives)
4 tbs olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

In a small saute pan, heat 1 tbs of the olive oil along with the garlic and herbs.  Cook over medium heat for a few minutes, just until the garlic is fragrant the herbs wilt a bit.

Place all of the remaining ingredients into a blender or food processor.  Add the warm garlic and herbs and blend until smooth. 

Serve with pita, cucumber and carrot sticks, sliced radishes and the zucchini crisps.  Refrigerate any unused hummus in a covered container.

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