Okay, actually, I do know how long ago, because as an inveterate journaler, I took notes at the time. I know the exact day I ate the original sandwich that inspired this. I cribbed this recipe, sort of, from a visit to Bloomingfoods Coop (now Bloomingfoods Market and Deli) in June 1988, when I was taking a break from the National Women’s Music Festival, which was then held on the IU campus.
Like my beloved concoction called “Bric-a-Broc,” this is another stuffed-pita sandwich I had purchased from the deli case at Bloomingfoods. I devised my “recipe” from the ingredients listed on the label stuck to the sandwich wrapper. . . . I mean, ingredients list? I just figured it out. By now, it might be very far from the original; but hey, I like it.
Here are the ingredients, more or less, as I copied them: Pita bread, chickpeas, tahini, miso, sautéed onions, bell peppers, lemon, sea salt, garlic . . . and, of course, sprouts.
From this, my current recipe has evolved, basically a good ol’ fashioned veggie hippie hummus with Japanese influences. I’m enthusiastic about this blend, and I hope you’ll try it!
Based on a 1980s deli offering from Bloomingfoods Coop, Bloomington, Indiana
- 1 15-oz. can garbanzos/chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- approx. 2 big T’s of tahini (it’s basically a ground sesame butter; get it at the health-food store)
- approx. 2 big T’s of miso (another health-food-store item; I suggest light miso, in the summer, and darker in winter; trust me, it’s a macrobiotic thing) (also, get the kind in the refrigerator case, because you want the good stuff)
- juice of one lemon
- sea salt (to taste)—or soy sauce or tamari, I say, to go with the theme
- 1 clove garlic, crushed or pressed
- 1 onion, chopped, sautéed until starting to brown/caramelize (add a little mirin or rice wine, if you have it, or a little splash of sherry or a pinch of sugar)
- 2 T sesame seeds (optional)
- half a large green bell pepper, chopped
- pocket pitas, halved, bonus points for whole wheat, because this is a crunchy vegetarian recipe
- crunchy greenery, such as alfalfa sprouts, or bean sprouts, or shredded raw cabbage, chopped lettuce, whatever
1. Put the garbanzos, tahini, miso, lemon juice, salt or soy sauce, garlic, and half the sautéed onion into a food processor and whirl it around until it’s super creamy. Add a tiny bit more water or more lemon juice, if necessary. Turn out into a mixing bowl.
2. Stir in the rest of the sautéed onion, the sesame seeds, and the bell pepper.
3. Pita pockets are more flexible and fillable if you nuke them or heat them in a skillet for a bit. (To honor our hippie heritage, microwaving or “nuking” them is not recommended; it’s just out of character.)
4. Spoon the mixture into pita pockets and add the crunchy greenery (sprouts, cabbage, whatever). (You could also use this as a stuffing in a wrap, made with a flour tortilla like a burrito.)
Truly, this is a recipe to mess around with to suit your own tastes. I like the sweetness of the caramelized onions and mirin. As with any hummus, you’ll need something to add crunch. Chopped cabbage or sprouts are a nice complements.