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Food, Wine

New Hummus Among Us

Fifty-one years ago, a handful of U.S. political leaders and student activists organized the first Earth Day on college campuses. Held on April 22—midway between spring break and final exams—the event brought the public’s attention to environmental issues, and the idea snowballed. Today, Earth Day is the world’s most-observed secular holiday. An estimated one billion people in 190 countries participate in some way.

carrot hummus

In the California wine industry, that seed, planted decades ago, has given rise to Down to Earth Month, a chance for wine lovers to dive a little deeper into what sustainability means today. Wineries throughout the state highlight the sustainability theme all month in tastings, tours and educational events—many virtual this year, of course, but some in person, responsibly. Take a look at the Down to Earth activities and special offers and you’re sure to find more than a few that entice you.

California farms feed the world year-round, but in April, they switch into high gear. Farmers’ markets gleam with just-picked artichokes, asparagus, leeks, spring onions, beets, baby carrots and turnips. Nutritionists tell us to “put produce first,” and that’s not hard to do with such abundance. Whip up some carrot and chickpea hummus, prepare a platter of dippable veggies and chill a Sauvignon Blanc. With such a beautiful and bountiful appetizer, you may never get to the main course.

certified sustainable website screenshot

THIS SITE'S FOR YOU

Finally, wine lovers who prefer to make sustainable choices have a resource to help them. A new website— CaliforniaSustainableWine.com—removes the guesswork by guiding consumers to the state’s certified-sustainable vineyards, wineries and wines. Want to know more about what California wineries are doing to operate more sustainably? You’ll find answers along with maps to certified wineries with public tasting rooms.

The Pour

Which Wine?

California produces a wide variety of Sauvignon Blancs, so play the field to find a style you like. Some winemakers keep it lean and crisp. Others rely on barrel fermentation to add a touch of creaminess, or blend in Semillon for complexity. Napa ValleySonoma County and Lake County are all prime spots for this variety. It wants warm, sunny days to develop ripeness and tropical-fruit aromas and cool nights to preserve acidity and freshness. The difference between daytime and nighttime temperatures in some high-elevation sites in Lake County can reach 50°F!

Meet the Grapes: Explore more wine pairings.

Carrot Hummus with Spring Vegetable Crudités

Blending carrots, chickpeas, and tahini produces a hummus with a captivating new taste. Cook the carrots first to heighten their sweetness, and then surround the fluffy spread with a garland of crunchy spring vegetables for dipping. Briefly blanching sugar snap peas and asparagus tips will brighten their color.

Carrot Hummus with Spring Vegetable Crudités

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil 
  • ½ pound (225 g) carrots, peeled and coarsely grated 
  • Sea salt 
  • ½ teaspoon whole cumin seed or ½ teaspoon ground cumin 
  • 1 can (15.5 oz/439 g) chickpeas, drained, or 2 cups cooked chickpeas 
  • 2 large cloves garlic 
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) fresh lemon juice, or more to taste 
  • ½ cup tahini 
  • 1 tablespoon pine nuts  
  • Aleppo pepper, hot red pepper flakes, or paprika 
  • Spring vegetables for dipping, such as radishes, baby carrots, roasted beets, sugar snap peas, asparagus tips, Persian cucumbers, hearts of romaine, and scallions 

 Makes 2 to 2-1/2 cups

 

Directions

  • Heat a 10-inch (25-cm) skillet over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil. When the oil is almost smoking, add the carrots and a generous pinch of salt. Cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the carrots have wilted slightly and lost their crunch, about 3 minutes. Set the skillet aside. 
  • If using whole cumin seed, put the cumin seed in a small dry skillet over medium heat. Cook, shaking the skillet often, until the cumin seed darkens and begins to smell fragrant, about 2 minutes. Let cool, then pound fine in a mortar. 
  • Put the carrots, toasted cumin or ground cumin, chickpeas, garlic, and lemon juice in a food processor and process until very finely chopped. Add the tahini and process until well blended. With the machine running, add enough water through the feed tube to make a smooth puree, about 1/3 cup. Add salt to taste and more lemon if desired. Process for 5 minutes to make a smooth, light hummus. Transfer to a serving plate, spreading it with a rubber spatula and making some “valleys” where oil can pool. 
  • Heat the remaining 2 teaspoons olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the pine nuts and cook, shaking the skillet constantly, until they are golden brown, about 2 minutes. Immediately pour the hot oil and pine nuts over the hummus. Sprinkle with Aleppo pepper and serve at once with vegetables for dipping. 

Recommended Pairings

California Chardonnay or California Sauvignon Blanc

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