This Jan. 25, 2016 photo shows carrot hummus with cumin lamb and goat cheese in Concord, NH. Try something creative and different, making hummus from carrots instead of chickpeas. Then top the hummus with seared lamb seasoned with cumin.   (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)

This Jan. 25, 2016 photo shows carrot hummus with cumin lamb and goat cheese in Concord, NH. Try something creative and different, making hummus from carrots instead of chickpeas. Then top the hummus with seared lamb seasoned with cumin. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)

Mix up your hummus game with carrot puree topped with lamb

  • By J.M. HIRSCH
  • Tuesday, February 23, 2016 4:04pm
  • LifeFood

Entertaining should not be about fuss or pomp. I want my focus to be on my company. And on making sure the food packs tons of big, satisfying flavor. Not much beyond that matters.

Which is why I tend to gravitate to a particular version of family-style dining when I have guests. It’s not just a matter of having shared dishes, though that’s certainly a start. My approach is more about how the food is presented and consumed, delivering the message that this meal is about comfort and friendship.

Here’s how it works. I start with a base. The base should be something easily spread. Hummus is a great choice. Many salads and roasted vegetables work, too. Savory yogurt dips work, particularly if you’re going for a Greek menu. Whatever you opt for, this base is spread thick over a large serving platter.

Next, you decide what to top that with. I love roasted or seared meats that have been cut into bite-size portions. Roasted vegetables would be a great vegetarian version. Same for beans and cheese. Whatever you go with, this is heaped on top of the base layer. You finish with a sprinkle of something that ties everything together, such as chopped fresh herbs or crumbled goat cheese.

Now set the platter in the center of the table and give your guests something to scoop with. Could be flatbread. Could be lettuce leaves. Could be tortilla chips. And that’s it. Get everyone to dig in, quite literally.

Some of my favorite versions of this have included a Frito pie (a layer of corn chips topped by grilled and sliced flank steak, cheese and other taco toppings); a garlicky hummus topped by ground beef browned with onions and served with flatbread; and tzatziki topped with roasted root vegetables and crumbled feta cheese.

Lately, I’ve been making this version, which is both unusual, yet familiar and comforting. It starts with a base of carrot hummus (made as you would regular hummus, but substituting cooked carrots for the chickpeas) topped with seared leg of lamb seasoned with cumin and topped with crumbled soft goat cheese. Sound like a lot to coordinate? It’s actually quite simple and comes together in no time.

Carrot hummus with cumin lamb and goat cheese

Start to finish: 45 minutes

Servings: 6

2 pounds carrots, trimmed and cut into 2-inch chunks

1 cup water

5 tablespoons tahini

4 cloves garlic

1 tablespoon lemon juice

2 tablespoons olive oil

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

1 1/2-pound boneless leg of lamb

1 tablespoon canola oil

1 large yellow onion, diced

1 tablespoon cumin seeds

1/2 cup white wine

2 ounces crumbled soft goat cheese

2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

Pita bread, warmed, to serve

In a medium saucepan, combine the carrots and water. Bring to a simmer over medium-high. Cook until the carrots are very tender and there are only a couple tablespoons of water remaining in the pan. Transfer the carrots and liquid in the pan to a food processor. Add the tahini, garlic, lemon juice and olive oil. Process until smooth, then taste and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Trim as much fat as possible from the lamb, then cut it into 1-inch cubes. Season the cubes with salt and pepper.

In a large skillet over medium-high, heat the canola oil. Add the lamb cubes and sear on all sides until nicely browned but not quite cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes. You may need to do this in batches, adding a bit more oil with each batch. Transfer the cooked lamb to a plate. Return the skillet to the heat and add the onion and cumin seeds. Saute for 5 minutes, or until the onion is tender.

Add the wine to the skillet and bring to a simmer, stirring and scraping the bottom to deglaze the pan. After 1 minute, return the lamb and any juices on the plate to the skillet, stir well and heat for 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper.

To assemble, use a large spoon to spread the carrot hummus over a serving platter, creating a slight depression at the center. Spoon the lamb and onions over the hummus. Sprinkle with crumbled goat cheese and mint. Serve with pita bread.

Nutrition information per serving: 430 calories; 190 calories from fat (44 percent of total calories); 21 g fat (5 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 65 mg cholesterol; 470 mg sodium; 29 g carbohydrate; 6 g fiber; 9 g sugar; 27 g protein.

AP Food Editor J.M. Hirsch is on Twitter and Instagram as @JM_Hirsch. Email him at

More in Life

Powerful truth of resurrection reverberates even today

Don’t let the resurrection of Jesus become old news

Nell and Homer Crosby were early homesteaders in Happy Valley. Although they had left the area by the early 1950s, they sold two acres on their southern line to Rex Hanks. (Photo courtesy of Katie Matthews)
A Kind and Sensitive Man: The Rex Hanks Story — Part 1

The main action of this story takes place in Happy Valley, located between Anchor Point and Ninilchik on the southern Kenai Peninsula

Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion
Chloe Jacko, Ada Bon and Emerson Kapp rehearse “Clue” at Soldotna High School in Soldotna, Alaska, on Thursday, April 18, 2024.
Whodunit? ‘Clue’ to keep audiences guessing

Soldotna High School drama department puts on show with multiple endings and divergent casts

Leora McCaughey, Maggie Grenier and Oshie Broussard rehearse “Mamma Mia” at Nikiski Middle/High School in Nikiski, Alaska, on Tuesday, April 16, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Singing, dancing and a lot of ABBA

Nikiski Theater puts on jukebox musical ‘Mamma Mia!’

This berry cream cheese babka can be made with any berries you have in your freezer. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
A tasty project to fill the quiet hours

This berry cream cheese babka can be made with any berries you have in your freezer

Minister’s Message: How to grow old and not waste your life

At its core, the Bible speaks a great deal about the time allotted for one’s life

Kirsten Dunst, Wagner Moura and Stephen McKinley Henderson appear in “Civil War.” (Promotional photo courtesy A24)
Review: An unexpected battle for empathy in ‘Civil War’

Garland’s new film comments on political and personal divisions through a unique lens of conflict on American soil

What are almost certainly members of the Grönroos family pose in front of their Anchor Point home in this undated photograph courtesy of William Wade Carroll. The cabin was built in about 1903-04 just north of the mouth of the Anchor River.
Fresh Start: The Grönroos Family Story— Part 2

The five-member Grönroos family immigrated from Finland to Alaska in 1903 and 1904

Aurora Bukac is Alice in a rehearsal of Seward High School Theatre Collective’s production of “Alice in Wonderland” at Seward High School in Seward, Alaska, on Thursday, April 11, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Seward in ‘Wonderland’

Seward High School Theatre Collective celebrates resurgence of theater on Eastern Kenai Peninsula

Most Read