Gluten Free Tahini and Hubbard Squash Hummus
What a doozy of a summer this has been! I can’t remember a milder one, nor one with so much rain. At times I wonder if I’m in the east Kentucky mountains, or a Bolivian jungle. It may be a little of both, because I’m soon going to need a vine with which to swing into the garden to reach all of my plants. I’m always pushing the limits of between-row spacing requirements so that I can pack more plants into a small space, but it is getting down-right ridiculous in there.
The garden is at peak harvest for summer crops right now, so most of our spare time is spent dehydrating, freezing, and canning. That means most of our meals have been pretty basic, but since they always contain garden veggies, they definitely aren’t boring. Every once in a while, we get to break out of our vegetables-and-grilled-meat rut and have something really extravagant. What better way to celebrate the bounty of summer than with some rocking vegetables from the garden jazzed up with Mediterranean flavors?
If you have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, as my family does, there can be two problems with enjoying most Mediterranean foods, which on the whole are naturally gluten-free. The first issue is that many spices like coriander and cumin can be produced in facilities that also process spice mixtures containing wheat-based seasonings. That issue is pretty easy to fix: just read your labels and check with manufacturers. On that note, Spicely Organic Spices are certified gluten free, and McCormick single-ingredient spices are well-tolerated by most individuals in the celiac disease community (although they may be produced on shared equipment with wheat-based spice mixes).
The second issue is a little tougher: most commercially-prepared tahini can be cross-contaminated with gluten during processing. I have yet to find a jar of tahini in my local grocery stores without the “may contain traces of wheat” warning. Since tahini is an essential ingredient in Mediterranean cuisine, this is a BIG problem. Thankfully, tahini is incredibly simple to make, provided that you have a small food processor, sesame seeds, and vegetable oil on hand. Just be aware that sesame seeds may be packaged in facilities that also package other seeds and nuts that get covered with wheat-based seasoning mixes. I buy our certified gluten free sesame seeds and other nuts from Nuts.com (which also offers certified gluten free tahini).
To make homemade tahini paste, start with roasted sesame seeds. You can buy them already roasted, but if they aren’t, spread them on a baking sheet and roast at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for about 4-5 minutes, tossing the seeds in the pan every so often to prevent them from burning. It isn’t necessary that they brown (and some chefs recommend that you don’t let them do so). Process a generous cup of sesame seeds with 2-3 tablespoons of organic vegetable oil (I use about a half-and-half mixture of safflower oil and sesame oil because I REALLY love sesame). Puree the oil and sesame seeds until you have a smooth paste. Any extra can be stored in an air-tight container in your fridge. That’s it!
My favorite use for tahini is to make my homemade hubbard hummus. Like many people, I don’t tolerate chickpeas too well, and hubbard squash is a great alternative. Unlike butternut squash, which can be too sweet, hubbard squash are mild, nutty, and meaty — a perfect substitute for chickpeas. Best of all, it is even more low calorie than traditional hummus, so you can really shovel it in (and you’ll want to)! You could use most any winter squash for this recipe, provided that it isn’t exceptionally sweet: acorn, red kuri, tromboncino (mature, not green), or banana squash come to mind. Bake squash ahead of time and freeze the pulp, and you can have hummus in a matter of minutes!
Another great use for tahini? Baba ghanoush. We’ve had huge eggplant in abundance this year. We grow Fengyuan eggplant for stir fry, and beautiful Rosita eggplants for grilling and baking. These heirloom eggplants don’t require salting to remove any bitterness… just cut and cook! My favorite recipe for Baba Ghanoush is from well-known food writer David Lebovitz, which you can link to here.
What do you need to complete your gluten free Mediterranean feast? Tabbouleh! My go-to gluten free tabbouleh recipe is from Bon-Appetit, which you can link to here.
There you go… everything that you need to enjoy a delicious Mediterranean meal.
Gluten-free pitas, you ask? Well, I’m working on that. In the meantime, whip up a batch of gluten free focaccia (pictured above), slice it thin, and dip away!
And let me know if you try this hummus recipe with other squash varieties. I would love to hear how it turns out! Enjoy!
- 1 pound of baked winter squash pulp, Hubbard preferred
- 3 to 4 Tbsp tahini (see note)
- 1 large garlic clove, minced
- 2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- ¼ tsp ground cumin
- salt to taste
- Place all ingredients in a food processor and puree until smooth. Add additional lemon juice if necessary and salt to taste. Option: Stir in ½ tsp ground cardamom.