A Plate of Hummus and Thou

A long day of work and weekday irritation that suddenly turns to dusk (and suppertime) is a scenario familiar to all of us, regardless of geography, occupation, age or marital status. We've all been there, over and again, and surely, the modern work-life balance dilemma will be knocking on your dinner plate sometime in the near future.

In spite of its regular appearance, the "what's-for-dinner" conundrum never ceases to stump cooks of all kinds. As recently as Monday of this week, I fell victim to said syndrome -- tired, cranky and hungrier than I'd like to be at an hour when dinner ideas fail to penetrate the addled brain.

At times like these, the very personal pieces of our personality emerge like erupting lava. Hungry at 7 p.m. after a long day, the cook becomes a strange creature, one who might, out of desperation, pour three bowls of cereal or eat a pint of ice cream for supper. A package of Saltines paired up with a processed cheese-food product suddenly sounds divine. You get the idea. We all have our weird-moment go-to treats and we have our limits, too. One person's dinner delight is another's scraps for the dog.

When all ideas turn to mush, I turn to hummus, which technically is also mush, but it's one that always brings me back to life. Requiring only seven minutes of my time, hummus gives me hope that I'll eat something relatively nutritious in less time than it takes to heat a frozen pizza. For this reason, I always have a can of chickpeas, a lemon and jar of tahini paste in the house. Everything goes into a blender or a food processor, plus a clove of garlic and some salt, and dinner is ready.

During my recent experience, I paired up the hummus with some lettuce, cucumber, red bell pepper and cherry tomatoes, all currently in season and in fine form at your neighborhood farmer's market. As the seasons change, the fruit and veg dippers can, too. Try hummus with slices of apple or pear this fall, or cauliflower florets. Try some cool-season fennel, thinly sliced, or spinach leaves used as hummus wrappers. The possibilities are as numerous as you want them to be.

With hummus feast plated, I poured myself a glass of wine, and carried my seven-minute feast outside onto the back porch. A few hummus dips later, I smiled with exhausted relief as the sun disappeared into the horizon.

What are your go-to meals at the end of a crazed day? Share in the comments area below.

By Kim ODonnel |  August 18, 2006; 12:54 PM ET Dinner Tonight , Vegetarian/Vegan
Previous: Diet for a Parched Flight | Next: A Seattle Sunday


Please email us to report offensive comments.

Couscous tossed with halved cherry tomatoes, chopped kalamata olives, roasted chicken breast (always have some in the fridge), a little goat cheese, basil, and pine nuts. I've had that for dinner 3 times this week!

Posted by: Julie | August 18, 2006 2:59 PM

Go to dinner? Goat cheese spread/crumbled over a piece of toasted sourdough or english muffin. Pile on fresh spinach and top with a fried egg overeasy. The hot egg wilts the spinach just enough. Glass of white wine and everything is just fine.

Posted by: sissyp | August 18, 2006 3:50 PM

Quesadillas: I always keep whole wheat tortillas in the freezer for this; they just need to be thawed briefly in the micro. I'll throw a can of black beans in the food processor with a couple of chipotles, spread it on the thawed tortillas, sprinkle with shredded mozz (hey, it's almost like jack, which isn't so authentic to begin with). Instead of really frying I'll pan-grill with a spritz of canola spray. Serve with salsa, shredded lettuce and tomato, sliced avocado or guac. Other possible fillers are mushrooms and spinach.

Posted by: Reine de Saba | August 18, 2006 5:58 PM

Black beans and rice. It takes a little longer to cook but it fills us up and is nutritious.

Or what we like to call "brupper" (breakfast for supper). Scrambled eggs and pancakes with some fruit.

Breakfast burritoes --scrambled eggs, cheese and salsa wrapped in flour tortillas.

Posted by: julie2 | August 20, 2006 10:11 PM

Just wanted to say thank you for the great dinner idea! I tried your recipe for dinner this weekend, and I have a new favorite! Delish!

Posted by: To sissyp | August 21, 2006 11:51 AM

Second the couscous. With pesto and sliced tomatoes, or tomato sauce, or tuna and cheese. Or wholewheat pasta with any of the above.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 22, 2006 5:09 PM

Dinner desperation for me means quick cooking pasta (organic cappellini or spaghetti) with a bunch of baby spinach, arugula or some tasty green from the farmer's market (I put the greens in the colander and pour the pasta & water right over to wilt them) - toss with crushed & minced garlic, red pepper flakes and grated parm or romano (Or goat cheese or even ricotta - all different but all good) add a dash of salt, glass of red wine and maybe some lovely tomato or peach slices on the side. WAY better than cereal.

Posted by: Frances | August 24, 2006 4:52 PM

The comments to this entry are closed.


© 2010 The Washington Post Company