When I have friends over for a meal I like to set out some appetizers; since I always have some good home-made sourdough pain de campagne on hand–, (you can see the recipe here), spreads for it are usually on the menu. I've shared my recipes for a roasted pepper spread and carrot/potato appetizer here; in this post I add to the possibilities with Deborah Madison's Spicy Chickpea Puree, from her great cookbook Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. It is similar to a hummus, but without the tahini. This is a delicious, simple recipe, for which I always keep a couple of cans of chickpeas in the house. When I make any recipe calling for whole chickpeas, I cook the dry beans for better texture and flavor, but being that this is a puree, the canned beans work fine. The recipe calls for using spice seeds, but if all you have are the ground, that's fine too.
1 teas cumin seeds
1/2 teas coriander seeds
1/4 teas fennel seeds
1 or 2 cloves garlic
1/8 to 1/4 teas cayenne
1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas
2 Tbs olive oil
1/2 cup cilantro leaves (when I make this in winter, I don't have cilantro from the garden, so I leave them out, and it's still delicious)
juice of 1 lemon
Toast the cumin, coriander, and fennel seeds in a small skillet over low heat, shaking pan often, until the aroma rises. Remove them from the pan to cool.
In a food processor or blender, coarsely chop the garlic, 1/2 teas salt, cayenne, oil, and cilantro, with 1/4 cup water. Add the spices, chickpeas, and lemon juice and puree until smooth.