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Five Vegan Spreads That Aren't Hummus

Freelance writer from the northeast coast of England with a fondness for vegan food and punk rock.

Five Vegan Spreads

Five Vegan Spreads

Beyond Hummus: Five Awesome Vegan Spreads

It's the day of the big game, and you're having friends around to watch it on TV. The beers are chilled, the pittas are warmed and, oh horrors, the store bought hummus is three weeks out of date.

This might not be such a disaster in my household, as I often have the wherewithal to run up a batch of hummus to hand in the pantry. But even if I fall short on the ingredients for that particular spread, I have a selection of alternatives in my repertoire that would stand in and do a sterling job.

When I was growing up, the humble baked bean was about as leguminous as our food cupboard got. These days, aware of their nutritional benefits and versatility, I have a selection of canned beans and pulses in at all times. These will typically include chickpeas and red kidney beans, which are the ones I use most, and black beans, canellini beans, butter beans, green lentils, and those handy mixed beans that go so well in chilli.

The canned beans I use in the following recipes are standard UK 400 grams size.

Mung bean hummus

Mung bean hummus

Recipe 1: Mung Bean Hummus

When I called this article 'Five Vegan Spreads That Aren't Hummus', I wasn't being entirely straight. This first recipe is for just that, but it's made with mung beans rather than chickpeas, thus demonstrating the versatility of legumes, when used in spreads and dips.

The only change between this recipe and regular hummus is the base bean. So if you are a traditionalist who insists on chickpea hummus, simply swap the mung beans for garbanzos and you're good to go.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup mung beans, soaked overnight, cooked and drained
  • ¼ cup tahini
  • 2 – 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon paprika for dusting (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon oil for drizzling (optional)

Method

  1. Place all of the ingredients in a food processor, or immersion blender cup.
  2. Whizz until a smooth paste is formed.
  3. Chill to allow the flavours to infuse.

Tip: If you prefer a more textured hummus, as in the photo, be less thorough with the blending process.

Black bean dip

Black bean dip

Recipe 2: Tangy Black Bean Spread

Garlic and ginger give a tang to this delicious spread. Packed with nutrients, try it on crispbread for a healthy, low fat filler.

Ingredients

  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 ‘thumb’ fresh ginger, peeled and minced (or 1 teaspoon ginger paste)
  • 2 – 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • ¼ cup water
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat, and add the garlic and ginger. Saute 1 minute.
  2. Transfer the pan contents to a food processor, or immersion blender cup.
  3. Add the beans, lime juice, salt and water.
  4. Whizz everything together until a smooth paste is formed.
  5. Thin the dip with more water if needed.
  6. Chill before serving.
Eggplant dip

Eggplant dip

Recipe 3: Smoky Eggplant Spread With Tahini

Whether you call it an eggplant or an aubergine, one feature of this versatile gourd is that it doesn’t yield a great deal when mashed. One average-sized fruit makes roughly a ramekin of dip, which is enough to enjoy on about eight crackers or, as in the photo, oatcakes. Double everything up for more dip.

This is a near-cousin of the classic baba ganoush, but with smoked paprika replacing the cumin. When I make this, I like to crank up the garlic to ridiculous levels, but for this recipe I’ve restricted it to two cloves. If you’re a fiend for it, and you don’t have a date tonight, throw in extra garlic with abandon.

Ingredients

  • 1 medium-sized aubergine/eggplant (henceforth eggplant)
  • 1 tablespoons tahini
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F.
  2. Slice the eggplant lengthways and brush the two halves with oil.
  3. Bake the eggplant halves on a tray for 30 minutes. Remove and allow to cool.
  4. Put the tahini, smoked paprika, lemon juice and salt into a food processor.
  5. Scoop the eggplant flesh from the skins and add to the other ingredients.
  6. Whizz everything together until smooth.
  7. Chill and allow the flavours to mingle.
Sweet potato spread with chickpeas

Sweet potato spread with chickpeas

Recipe 4: Sweet Potato and Chickpea Spread

When mashed, sweet potatoes break down into a smooth uniformity which makes them ideal for a spread or dip. When you look at it, this recipe is basically traditional hummus with sweet potatoes and a few spices added. The sweet potato bulks out the spread, adding flavour, texture and colour.

This recipe works best without the sweet potato skins, so either peel them before steaming or boiling, or roast them in their skins and scoop out the flesh.

Ingredients

  • Flesh of 2 cooked sweet potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 can of chickpeas, drained
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup tahini
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon chilli powder
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika

Method

  1. Put everything except the sweet potato into a food processor, or the cup of an immersion blender. Whizz until smooth.
  2. Scoop in the sweet potato, and whizz again until a uniform paste forms.
  3. Chill, and serve with a drizzle of olive oil, or a dusting of paprika.
Cannellini bean dip, spread or hummus

Cannellini bean dip, spread or hummus

Recipe 5: Cannellini Bean Hummus With Rosemary

Variations of this recipe are fairly widespread online, yet I’d never heard of it until recently. Although it is similar to regular chickpea hummus, the addition of fresh rosemary takes this dip off in a delicious new direction. Served with crackers, it’s very moreish, and it makes great TV snacking. After taking the photos, I started on the batch in the bowl, and I kept going back until it was all gone. Delicious.

Ingredients

  • 1 can cannellini beans, drained
  • 1/3 cup tahini
  • 2 – 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, very finely chopped (or equivalent dried)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • salt
  • Oil for drizzling (optional)
  • Rosemary fronds for decoration (optional)

Method

  1. Put all of the ingredients except the oil and rosemary fronds into a food processor, or a hand blender jar, and blend until a smooth paste is formed.
  2. If necessary, thin the hummus with water saved from the beans.
  3. Chill and serve.

Vegan Spread Playlist

Many, many moons ago, I bought the compilation album Punk Collection from a friend. The sleeve notes were written in Italian, and it featured The Ramones, The Police, Iggy Pop, and The Dead Boys. It also had this track on it, with blistering guitar and snarled vocals that epitomised those early days of punk. A great memory, though.

Bonus Spread Using Only Two Ingredients

When I first became a vegetarian many years ago, I lived close to a delicatessen that sold tahini. This was a new ingredient to me at the time, but as an essential component of hummus, I bought it frequently. One day, a friend suggested I whip up ½ cup of tahini with 1 tablespoon of dark soy sauce, to make a savoury spread. I tried it, and I loved it, on crackers or in sandwiches with cucumber. Two ingredients never tasted so savoury.