When I think of Romanian dishes, I always think of this butterbean hummus. Back home, it’s made with dried beans that are soaked in water overnight. During the boiling stage, we discard the water 3 times, so as to reduce the ‘bloating’ effect that the beans may have on us.
Dried butter beans are very popular in Romania. Rather than buying them in tins, they are bought loose in paper bags at the market. You can find them next to big sacks of walnuts, sturdy winter apples and other autumn vegetables.
The butterbean hummus is a national dish, made with onion, garlic and rosemary, and served next to homemade sausages, or smoked ribs of pork. It’s our comfort food. A no fuss dinner or lunch, perfect for when it is cold outside, and accompanied by homemade pickles.
Now I’ve mentioned the pickles! It’s a great tradition to pickle gherkins, green tomatoes, bell peppers, and cabbage, in brine for the winter. In our home, these jars were not to be touched before December.
A question that we used to ask dad a lot was ‘are the pickles ready?’ Yes, it is was a man’s job, although he could never have prepared them on his own. Mum was always heavily involved, and so were we. My job was to put cold knives under the jars, so that they didn’t crack when pouring the hot brine. Not sure if there was any science behind it, but it worked.
We love this butterbean hummus so much, that very often we don’t care about the season, and just make it in the middle of the summer. Served cold on bread, or next to charcuterie and summer salads-it is just delicious!
The butterbean hummus is made for those completely in love with garlic.
Whizz together the butterbeans, garlic, salt, yoghurt, splash of lemon and oil. Taste and add more oil or yogurt, if you find it too dry. Set aside.
Gently heat a drop of oil in a frying pan, then add the slices of onion. Stir well, add a splash of water to avoid burning. Wait for around 5 minutes until it’s reduced and the onion is just past the sweating stage. Add the paprika, sugar and tomato passata. Stir frequently, and cook for another 3 minutes. Add the splash of sherry and cook for another 2 minutes. By now, the onions are caramelised and looking dark red with a bit of juice in the pan. Take them off the heat to cool.
Put the hummus in a bowl and add the caramelised onions on top. Now sprinkle the orange zest over the hummus and enjoy. The idea is to eat both the hummus and the onions together. Serve it hot next to sausages, and drizzle a bit of the sausage sauce from the pan, over the hummus. Serve cold on bread with charcuterie, and maybe pickled chillies. I prefer it as it is, just on bread.