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Brown Bag It

September 15, 2009

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You don’t have to be back in school to pack your lunch. In fact, it’s a growing trend among Americans these days. 8.5 billion people brown-bagged their weekday lunch last year, according to a study by the NPD Group. A survey found that the majority of brown-baggers were motivated by financial reasons as well as efforts to eat healthier.  Bringing a lunch from home helps to cut costs as well as unwanted calories from restaurant meals.

Looking for a healthy lunch idea? Check out this New York Times article where Martha Rose Shulman shares a homemade hummus recipe and incorporates the tasty spread in a satisfying vegetarian wrap.

How can you prepare more food from home?

Hummus Wrap

For the hummus:

1 to 2 garlic cloves, to taste; halved, green shoots removed
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Salt to taste
3 to 4 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, to taste
2 to 3 tablespoons plain low-fat yogurt, as needed
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons sesame tahini

For each wrap:

1 large flour tortilla or whole wheat wrap
2 leaves romaine lettuce, ribs cut away
1/8 red pepper, cut into thin strips
2 tablespoons cucumber, cut in julienne
Fresh mint leaves (optional)

1. Turn on a food processor fitted with the steel blade, and drop in the garlic cloves. Process until they are chopped and adhere to the sides of the bowl. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the remaining ingredients, and process until very smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings.

2. Warm a large flour tortilla for about 10 seconds in the microwave or over a burner, just until flexible. Lay it on your work surface and cover with lettuce leaves, leaving a two-inch border all the way around. Place 3 heaped tablespoons hummus (about 1/4 cup) on top of the lettuce on the bottom half of the tortilla. Top with the red pepper, the cucumber and a few leaves of mint if desired.

3. Fold the bottom edge of the tortilla over the filling. Fold in the sides, then roll up, squeezing the tortilla so that the roll is compact. Place the roll on a piece of plastic wrap. Fold in the sides of the plastic over the ends of the wrap, and roll up tightly to secure. Refrigerate for at least five minutes and for as long as 24 hours.

Yield: 1 3/4 cups hummus. Enough for six or seven wraps.

Advance preparation: The hummus will keep for three or four days in the refrigerator. It will become more pungent. The wrap can be made a day ahead.