You would never guess it, but Raleigh is lucky to be home to an ah-maz-ing Middle Eastern restaurant called Neomonde. If I could eat there for lunch every day of the week, I would make that happen.
And while I've tried many things on their menu, they have one lunch special that is my go-to and it takes an act of God to get to me order something else. My "lunchbox" includes a warmed veggie wrap (pita with marinated egg plant, zucchini, squash, red pepper and tons of other deliciousness), with a side of tatziki (greek yogurt dip with cucumber, garlic and mint) and a side of hummus with olives and olive oil on top. A couple extra slices of pita for dipping, plus a pistachio baklava for dessert - it is an amazing, filling and healthy lunch.
Luckily, Neomonde is so kind as to give some of their recipes away - including their famous creamy hummus. I'm lucky enough to go buy it by the pound when the mood hits me, but for those of you not in driving distance, here is the recipe:
1 pound dried chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1 cup tahini
1 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Kalamata olives and extra virgin olive oil, optional garnish
Wash and drain the chickpeas twice, discarding any stones or debris. Place chickpeas in a pot and add enough water to cover by 2 inches. Allow to soak for at least 12 hours.
Drain chickpeas, return to pot and add enough water to cover by 2 inches. Bring to a boil and cook until a froth forms on top of the liquid. Drain and rinse chickpeas again, wipe foam from pot and return chickpeas to pot.
Add enough water to cover chickpeas by 2 inches. Stir in 1 teaspoon salt and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook, adding water as necessary to keep chickpeas covered, until tender. Depending on the dryness of the chickpeas, this can take anywhere from 45 minutes to more than an hour. Allow chickpeas to cool to room temperature in the cooking liquid.
With a food processor running, drop garlic cloves through the feed chute and process until finely chopped. Stop the machine and add chickpeas and just enough cooking liquid to cover them (you may have to work in batches). Process until smooth.
Add tahini, lemon juice and olive oil and process until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Adjust seasoning with more salt if needed. Serve with warm pita wedges for dipping. If desired, garnish the hummus with Kalamata olives and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.