Hey, hey, and a happy hump day to you! I hope this week is treating you like a chivalrous date. On my end of things, I just returned from a fun, spontaneous weekend trip back home to San Clemente. My sweet angel of an aunt and cousin surprised my sister, niece, & I with tickets- seriously, what gems! We arrived Friday, and had a little family dinner at my uncle and aunt's house. Those of you who watched my stories got to see the epic toddler dance party that took place, which, by the way, made me feel SO out of touch with top 100 music. Like, I couldn't tell you who's a Bieber, Gomez, or Lovato if my life depended on it. I digress... My dad's side of the family is relatively small, and we've always been super close, usually living about a 30 minute drive from each other for most of our lives. My sister and I were lucky enough to grow up with cousins who felt more like siblings. As we've gotten older not only is it so cool that things always feel exactly the same, no matter how much time has passed, but now we get to watch my sister and cousins do the same with their little kids. Life sure is wild.
Speaking of family gatherings, every time the weather starts to turn I can't help but think of being outside- particularly, cooking and eating outside. Whether I'm back in California, at my parents' in Idaho, or home in Austin, eating outside is just such a prominent source of happiness in my life. Honestly, what is better than a strong cocktail and sharing some small plates on a warm night? Kind of nothing, if you're asking me. I thought it would be fun to share a few ideas for portable dishes to make and take with you to eat somewhere pretty with someone you love. What better way to start than with an appetizer situation that doubles as dinner? Options are LyFe. Since we're keeping things light and springy, I thought we'd go veggie for our first little soiree, and celebrate some of the best of what's in season now, starting with the creamiest beet hummus. Veggie kebabs, garlicky yogurt, baked feta, lavash, and roasted and raw crudites make for perfect mix and match snacking. In fact, if someone could teleport one of these platters to me now, that would be amazing. Let's get into it.
Preheat your oven to 400F, and add your skewers to a dish filled with water. This keeps them from burning while cooking. Cut your mushrooms, bell peppers, onion, and zucchini for your kebabs. Whisk together your red wine vinegar, lemon juice, dried oregano, grated garlic clove, and salt and pepper. Skewer your veggies, alternating them as you wish, and add them to a large freezer bag, along with your marinade. Reserve in the fridge.
Peel your beets, and season them with a drizzle of olive oil, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper, plus one teaspoon oregano. Roast for 30 minutes, and set aside to cool. At this point, if you want to add roasted potatoes, baked feta, or roasted tomatoes, add them to a large baking sheet in order of cooking (see above), and once done, lower your oven to 375F.
Drain and thoroughly rinse your chickpeas, and grab a medium bowl. This portion of the program may seem a bit fussy, but I promise that the pickiness is worth the payoff, because it delivers literally the creamiest hummus ever. Individually peel each of your chickpeas, discarding the skin in the sink, and transferring your peeled chickpea to your bowl. Sounds annoying, yes, but it only takes 10 minutes. Just pinch the chickpea, in one motion, toward the bottom of the chickpea, and the skin will pop right off. In a small saucepan, add your chickpeas, and cover with water. Boil until liquid reduces by 2/3, and drain the chickpeas, reserving about 3-4 tsp of the cooking liquid.
To the bowl of a food processor, add your beets, with a healthy drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkle of salt, and a squeeze of lemon, and run the machine for 1 minute, pausing to scrape down the sides of the bowl throughout. Once totally smooth, add your tahini, the juice of 1 lemon, your 2 minced garlic cloves, and puree for 1 minute more. Scrape down the bowl, add your chickpeas, plus 3 teaspoons of your cooking liquid, plus a pinch of salt, and a dash of cumin. Run the machine for about 30 seconds, then slowly drizzle in your olive oil to your desired consistency, and puree until completely smooth, about 1-2 minutes. Taste for seasoning, and if necessary, season with more salt and pepper, and pulse to combine. Add to a bowl, and drizzle with olive oil, and add a generous sprinkle each of parsley, lemon zest, and sesame seeds. Cover, and add to the refrigerator until you're ready to serve.
Bake your kebabs for 25 minutes at 375F, and make your garlic Za'atar yogurt. Combine your yogurt, lemon juice + zest, garlic, Za'atar seasoning, and parsley in a medium bowl, and whisk to combine. Cover, and reserve in refrigerator with your hummus until you're ready to serve.
Serve your kebabs, hummus, and garlic yogurt with any vehicle you wish, but some seriously delicious options are toasted lavash bread, roasted baby potatoes and tomatoes on the vine, raw crudites, and baked feta (instructions for all below).
Who else is craving some outside BBQ's and days spent near the water? After this weekend, I'm more ready than ever. Part 2 of this little 3 part eating outside series will be here on Friday- hope to see you there, cold beverage in hand.
DIY Mezze Platter with Vegetarian Kebabs, the Creamiest Beet Hummus, Roasted + Raw Crudites & Garlic Za'atar Yogurt
For the Beet Hummus
3 beets, peeled and cut into 1" chunks
1 15 oz. can chickpeas, rinsed, drained, skins removed
Zest + juice of one lemon
1/3 cup tahini
2 large garlic cloves, smashed and finely minced
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more to top
2 tbs freshly minced parsley to top
1 tbs. sesame seeds to top
Salt & pepper to taste
For the Vegetarian Kebabs
12 baby bell peppers, halved, seeds and membrane removed
3 zucchini, cut into 1/2" thick slices
1 red onion, cut into 2" pieces
10 baby portobello mushrooms, halved or quartered, depending how large they are
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
Juice of 1/2 a lemon + zest of 1 lemon
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1 garlic clove, grated
Salt & pepper to taste
For the Garlic Za'atar Yogurt:
2 1/4 cups plain yogurt
3 garlic cloves, finely minced
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 tablespoon Za'atar seasoning
2 tsp finely chopped parsley
Salt & pepper to taste
Options to Serve:
Assorted raw crudites, such as sliced English cucumber, rainbow carrots,
snap peas, green onions.
Roasted baby potatoes (2 cups baby potatoes seasoned with salt, pepper, rosemary,
& olive oil roasted at 400F for 20 minutes)
Roasted cherry tomatoes on the vine (Seasoned with olive oil, salt, & pepper, & roasted
at 400F for 15 minutes)
Baked feta (Drizzle with olive oil, a sprinkle of dried oregano, and a few cracks black pepper,
& bake for 20 minutes at 400F)
Lavash bread, toasted
Props C/O Urban Outfitters