I was getting ready to make bread one day and found myself getting lost in the gorgeous pistachio nuts sitting in front of me. The thoughts that were going through my mind at that time: pistachios, bread, and peace, an odd assortment of thoughts for sure. Do any of us have control over what pops into our heads? Sometimes. Sometimes not. Pistachios; green like nature, exotic and delicious. Bread; one of the oldest foods and the staff of life. Peace; the goal of mankind since the beginning.
With those disjointed images and thoughts swirling about in my head, something felt right about creating a meaningful dish that I could extend to those around me in the spirit of us all being part of the human race: flawed, frail, and forgiving, and sharing this one planet that gives us so much. It would a small gesture from a fellow human being. And in case I do owe you a real olive branch, consider it extended.
PIstachios have pizzazz. Their coloring is pure pop; purple and almost fluorescent green blended with brown and yellow hues. The flavor is Earthy and naturally savory which makes pistachios perfect for both sweet and savory dishes. Try adding a few chopped pistachios to just about any dish and see if it doesn’t immediately increase the flair factor. And they’re of course easy to use. Pistachios have no outer skin (like cashews) so they can be soaked, blended and processed easily into milks, sauces, spreads….it’s just too easy to go wild with them.
Hummus is an ancient food that can be created from a multitude of ingredients. I’ve made many types of hummus over the years using everything from beans to green leafy vegetables. There’s always a similar texture and feel I opt for since hummus needs to be well, hummus. In other words it needs to be thick, fairly creamy, filled with Mediterranean flavors, savory with a citrus bit, and great for dipping. Pistachios seemed like an odd choice at first since nuts aren’t usually associated with hummus. Since they’re very hard, they would need to be soaked, processed and then strained. Traditional flavors such as lemon, garlic and olive oil, took care of the rest. The process was longer since I was starting from scratch, however two days later I had to admit it was worth the effort. This wonderful hummus turned out to be one of the most unique and delicious I’ve ever had.
The idea of creating a cultured hummus fascinated me since I had never had cultured hummus before. In fact I never even heard of it although I’m sure someone out there has tried it. Or maybe not. One huge benefit with culturing (or fermenting) pistachios (or any food) is the probiotics that naturally develop. Live friendly bacteria that ease digestion and increase assimilation of the many nutrients.
I soaked, blended and prepared the pistachios, then cultured the thick mix for 48 hours. During that time it also strained. After two days of patiently waiting I took my first bite. It was awe-inspiring. Just like hummus. Really. A complete surprise to me. Delicious, light and fluffy with lemon and dill overtones. This serendipitous hummus was similar to the chickpea/tahini hummus I used to make with all the bravo I’d expect from my beloved pistachios.
Of course my hummus had to have something special to share it with. Bread. A Mediterranean bread. The staff of life. I’ve made a lot of raw breads European Dark Rye Bread over the years and cherished their bounty. Of course I used ingredients that represent some of the splendor of the Mediterranean: olives, sun-dried tomatoes, basil, and garlic; but closed the door on gluten by using cashews and buckwheat instead of traditional wheat flour. It was so easy. Process, shape and dehydrate or bake.
Raw bread is probably one of the most unusual concepts to grasp until you’ve had it. Becasue no gluten or yeast is added, raw breads don’t rise and aren’t soft or fluffy. What they are is hearty, intense and incredibly delicious. Raw breads can be sliced (or torn if you are into rustic eating), toasted, and easily made into sandwiches. I have to say this beautiful bread was the soul mate to the cultured pistachio hummus.
Served open-faced or sandwich style, this bread and hummus share a passionate embrace of the warm climate and succulent flavors surrounding the deep hues of the Mediterranean Sea. Eat well, eat often, and eat with enthusiasm. Break bread with a friend, a foe, a distant relative, a partner, loved ones. There’s a whole world out there to break bread with. I hope you enjoy this fresh and natural meal, and the warm message it brings.
This recipe is raw and dairy/gluten/oil-free.
Olive Branch Bread w/Cultured Pistachio Hummus
Olive Branch Bread:
- Cashews and flax seeds can be ground in a nut/coffee grinder, blender, or any flour grinding appliance.
- If you are using very dry or hard sun-dried tomatoes, you may need to soak them in advance before using. After soaking, drain and dry them with a cloth before using.
- If you are using olives soaked in water, drain and towel dry before using.
- You can dehydrate the bread longer if you want for more “toasted” bread.
- The bread can also be baked in the oven. Place on a cookie sheet and bake at 300 degrees for 45 minutes. Remove and cut into 1/4-inch slices. Return to the oven to bake for another 20 minutes or until done. Cool before serving.
- 1 cup finely ground cashews
- 1 cup sprouted buckwheat flour (preferably raw) or other sprouted flour of choice
- 1/4 cup ground flax seeds
- 1/4 cup psyllium seed husk
- 1/3 cup soft sun-dried tomatoes, diced
- 8 – 10 chopped green or black olives
- 2 Tbsp white or black sesame seeds
- 2 Tbsp minced fresh basil or 1 tbsp dried basil
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 Tbsp nutritional yeast (optional)
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- about 1/2 cup water
- additional water as needed
- Add all the ingredients to a food processor and process until the mixture becomes crumbly and somewhat sticky.
- Transfer to a cutting board and knead until it becomes like a hard single clump. If it is too dry and not sticking together you may need to add a little more water. Add by the tablespoon as needed.
- Shape into a loaf and score on top. If making a long loaf you can score into slices or as desired.
- Place on a mesh dehydrate sheet and dehydrate at 115 degrees for about 10 hours. You can also bake it per the above comments.
- When ready, remove from the dehydrator.
- Slice the bread completely into about 1/2 -inch (or thinner) slices and return to the dehydrator.
- Dehydrate for another 1 – 3 hours (depending on thickness) or until you are satisfied with the dryness.
- Set aside or refrigerate until ready to serve. The bread will moisten a little when stored. You can dehydrate as needed for “toasted” effect.
- Yields one loaf.
- Bread can be stored refrigerated up to 2 weeks and frozen up to 2 months.
Cultured Pistachio Hummus:
- 2 cups pistachios, soaked in water for 4 – 8 hours or more then drained and rinsed
- 1 cup water
- 2 Tbsp minced fresh herb of choice (dill, thyme, oregano, parsley, etc)
- 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1 probiotic capsule or 1/4 tsp probiotic powder
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/8 tsp ground white pepper
- 1 tsp nutritional yeast (optional)
- Add the pistachios and water to a blender and blend until smooth.
- Add the remaining ingredients and blend just until mixed.
- Transfer to a strainer lined with cheese cloth sitting over a glass bowl.
- Pour in the pistachio nut mixture and fold the cheesecloth over the top.
- Place a smaller glass bowl or other similar weight over the pistachio nut mixture as pictured. Don’t use anything too heavy or it will press the pistachio mixture through the sieve.
- Leave on the counter to drain and culture for 48 hours. You can culture for less time if you want as long as it’s at least 24 hours. It was great when I tasted it after 24 hours too, just a little more moist.
- Remove the pistachio mixture from the cheese cloth. Discard the liquid in the bowl or use in other recipes.
- You can add oil to the mixture if you want thinner hummus. I prefer it on the lighter side without oil but it’s great either way.
- Set hummus aside or refrigerate until ready to use.
- Yields about 2 1/2 cups.
- Can be stored refrigerated up to a week.
- Spread Cultured Pistachio Hummus on Olive Branch Bread.
- Garnish as desired.
- Enjoy in peace.