Caitlin Bensel
Active Time
40 MIN
Total Time
40 MIN
Yield
Serves : 12

The “freedom” of freelance writing is overrated. True, I’m not tethered to a desk for a 9-to-5 workday (“The world is your office!” a friend recently texted). And while this might suggest a chill schedule of hip coffee shops and leisurely al fresco lunches (insert photo of women in fedoras and sunglasses clinking glasses of rosé), my reality is a bit different.

As a working mom, my days are condensed and bookended by school drop-off (where I can be ted in questionable freelance attire, like wool clogs and yoga pants)

and pick-up. Time is forever at a deficit, and deadlines are always rumbling over my shoulder. Because I tend to devote breaks to dog walks, sweaty vinyasa classes, and an occasional plunge into Barton Springs, meals are often eaten on the fly.

I rely on a roster of “working girl lunches,” things to have on hand that are nourishing, tasty, and can be assembled in Olympic-record-breaking time. A perfect avocado, sprinkled with kosher salt and drizzled with olive oil, is an example. I’m always thrilled to have something to slather on toasted bread or warm corn tortillas, such as bean purees, creamy yogurt dips with greens, smoked fish spread, or this riff on hummus (made with chickpeas and sweet, smoky grilled carrots) that’s so delicious I’ve nicknamed it Carrot Yummus.

To mimic the creamy texture of chickpeas, the carrots are parboiled and finished on a hot grill. A spin over the fire brands the carrots with smoky charred flavor that complements their natural sweetness. You can grill the carrots a couple days in advance—a perfect way to make the most of lingering heat after you’ve fired up something else for dinner. If you’re lucky enough to get fresh farmers market carrots, don’t bother peeling their thin skin; just rinse and scrape off any sprouts with a paring knife.

Feel free to riff on the recipe to suit your whims. Lemon juice can be replaced with white or cider vinegar; cumin, smoked paprika, and fresh herbs are other nice additions. A kick of some kind of heat is essential—use your favorite hot sauce, sambal oelek, red chile salsa, or a pinch of cayenne.

Carrot Yummus can go fast or fancy. For a working girl lunch, I eat it with Sesame Blues tortilla chips and several dashes of Cholula. It’s also delicious on toasted multigrain bread with slices of hard-boiled egg and sprouts. When I serve it as a first course for a dinner party, I pair it with grilled pita bread, marinated cherry tomatoes, and crunchy, colorful crudité like shaved watermelon radishes and fennel. But trust me, it’s just as good in the carpool line out of a Tupperware that I stashed in my purse before dashing out the door. A working girl’s gotta eat, after all.

How to Make It

Step 1    

Bring a large pot of water and 1 tablespoon salt to a boil over high. Add the carrots, reduce heat to medium-high, and cook until just tender, about 6 minutes. (Time will depend on the size of your carrots; when in doubt, use a paring knife to gauge doneness.) Drain the carrots in a colander, and set aside to cool briefly.

Step 2    

Prepare a charcoal grill for two-zone cooking and build a medium fire, or heat a gas grill to medium-high. Carefully wipe the preheated grill grates with a lightly oiled paper towel. Using a grill brush, scrape the grill grates clean, then carefully wipe with a lightly oiled towel again.

Step 3    

When the coals are glowing red and covered with a layer of fine gray ash, place the carrots over direct heat, and grill, uncovered, flipping and rotating as necessary for even cooking, until nicely charred on all sides, 5 to 6 minutes. Remove the carrots from heat, and set aside to cool briefly.

Step 4    

Combine the garlic and remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons salt in a food processor, and pulse into a coarse paste. Add the tahini, pomegranate molasses, coriander, black pepper, and hot sauce, and process until smooth. Cut the carrots into pieces, and add them with the chickpeas to the tahini mixture; process until smooth. With the food processor running, drizzle in the olive oil, processing until very smooth and creamy, 3 to 4 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, transfer the hummus to a bowl, and garnish with additional oil and Aleppo pepper. Serve immediately with grilled sweet peppers and pita bread. Store any leftovers in a sealed container in the refrigerator up to 3 days.

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