“I don’t wanna classify you like an animal in the zoo”
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The Buzzcocks are one of those iconic yet somehow underappreciated late ’70s pop-punk bands. Just aggressive enough to satisfy the pogoing mosh pits, but hooky enough to almost be radio-friendly. Kinda goofy, full speed ahead, teen angst-driven songs with usually the perfect sing-a-long chorus, they were the UK version of The Ramones without the goofy NYC punk schtick. They also likely influenced countless ’90s and beyond pop-punk bands and, yes, I’m looking squarely at you Green Day and Blur.
This is why Pete Shelley’s solo foray into synthpop on Homosapien is, to say the least, confusing. Suddenly the gritty guitar-driven pop-punk is replaced by, dare I say it, “dance floor jams.” The theme song here is perhaps the most famous example of the disconnect. Acoustic guitar, synth lines, and a drum machine underscore Shelley’s lyrics about gay equality. It’s interesting to note three things about this song. First, it was written in 1976 as a potential Buzzcocks song (which would have been a VERY different single). Second, it was recorded in one day with producer Martin Rushent, who would later go on to produce The Human League (which likely explains the synth-driven sound). Third, it’s the perfect retro-pop name for a hummus platter.
Anyone who owns a food processor is a sucker to buy hummus. It requires no cooking skills and homemade is always better than store-bought. It also allows you the option to customize and experiment. I generally have at least a pint of hummus in my fridge at all times. Technically hummus must be chickpeas, but I have also used white beans, black beans, and even edamame (not that great) as a base. After many experiments, I can say with certainty I am Team Chickpea when it comes to hummus.
This recipe has gone through several sandwich variations before I finally said, “Screw It! I’m gonna eat hummus like I eat hummus!” It’s not that I don’t appreciate a hummus wrap or some sort of hummus driven sandwich. It’s just that I NEVER eat hummus like that. At my laziest, it’s a tub of hummus and some toasted flatbread on the couch or at my desk. If I’m ambitious it’s something like this recipe. I’m surprised, over the years of professional cooking, I never added a hummus platter to any menu considering I probably eat some version of this a least four times a month.
Before I get into the hummus itself, let’s talk platter assembly. This is a “You Do You” scenario, but there are a few key points. Of course, you want some toasted flatbread. Sure, crackers could work as well, but that flatbread becomes a vehicle for assembling mini sandwiches and mini sandwiches on flatbread are better than on crackers.
Beyond the bread and hummus, I prefer something salty, something pickled, and a spicy/savory protein. My salty almost always defaults to cheese. Asiago here, but parmesan, mozzarella, and manchego are also great choices. Pickles are pickles. Choose the ones you dig. These are homemade dill pickles a.k.a. Dill Communication. Finally, the protein component. For this, I’m using some seitan pepperoni and five-spice deli seitan because it’s what I had in the fridge. If you’re more carnivore leaning, salami, ham, or turkey would go well here.
For this particular platter, I decided to go with Hummus Two Ways, one of my usual recipes and one experiment. I tend to make roasted red pepper hummus where I substitute peanut butter for tahini because, honestly, tahini is wicked expensive and I just don’t have that many uses for it. This time, however, as I had miso in the fridge, I decided to try subbing it for the tahini. I preferred the result over anything I’ve made before. It retains some of the nuttiness of tahini with somehow also tastes a bit lighter.
There are two ways you can roast a red pepper. If you have a gas stovetop, turn on one burner high. Place the pepper over the flame and let it char. As each side gets charred, use a pair of tongs to rotate the pepper. When all sides have been charred, remove from the heat, place in a bowl, cover, and let steam for 1/2 hour. When cool enough to touch, peel the charred skin off and de-seed.
You can also roast your pepper in the oven. Preheat your oven to 450°F. Cut the peppers in half through the stem. Remove the seeds and stems and place cut side down on a parchment or Silpat-lined baking sheet. Place in the oven and roast for 25 minutes or until skins are wrinkled and charred. Remove from oven and let cool for a minute or two. Place them in a bowl, cover, and let steam for 1/2 hour. When cool enough to touch, peel the charred skin off the peppers.
The second hummus here was an experiment. My neighbor gifted me a massive amount of basil and, other than having a pesto party, I went searching for ways to use it. Somehow I stumbled on an old internet trend where cooks were into making things “green” for some bizarre reason. One of the things getting “green” was hummus usually using either avocado or basil. So, not completely confident it would work, I dove in and made a couple of batches of hummus with basil. It did take a bit of work to hit a balance of herbiness with hummus-ness. Initial batches kind of had a chickpea pesto thing going on, but ultimately I hit on the recipe here. I dig it for the novelty and would probably make it again if having a party or gifted a ton of basil, but it’s a bit too much of a food stunt for my taste. I prefer my hummus more straightforward and preferably while binge-watching Hulu on the couch.
Hummus two ways, toasted flatbread, dill pickles, Asiago cheese, pepperoni seitan, five-spice seitan, carrot, and cucumber
Makes 1 platter, enough to feed 2 people
RED PEPPER & MISO HUMMUS
Makes about a pint
15-ounces of chickpeas, reserve aquafaba
3 tablespoons miso
1 roasted red pepper, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 lemon, juiced
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/3 cup olive oil
Put chickpeas & 1/4 cup of the reserved aquafaba in a food processor. Pulse until roughly smooth.
Add miso, red pepper, garlic, lemon juice, and black pepper. Blend until thoroughly combined. Drizzle in olive oil until smooth texture. Blend until completely smooth.
Makes about 1 pint
1 cup loosely packed fresh basil
1 1/4 cup chickpeas (reserve either cooking water or the water from the can)
2 cloves of fresh or roasted garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (to taste)
1 tablespoon miso
1/4 cup olive oil
Put everything but the olive oil in the food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Let it run until everything is combined. With the processor running, drizzle in the olive oil. Keep the processor running until smooth The longer it runs, the smoother the final product will be. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.