Perfect pita pillows creamy hummus, a salsa recipe from Janos Wilder, and a weekend of food events

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A spread from Ash'Kara in Boulder.
John Lehndorff

Hummus and pita bread. 

We eat that once uncommon Middle Eastern fare all the time and that duo is available in many local restaurants and most supermarkets. However, once you taste the scratch-made hummus and pita bread at Ash’Kara you’ll swear you are tasting them for the first time.

Chef Dan Asher’s Boulder eatery specializes in modern Israeli cuisine combined with the brotherly influences of other Middle Eastern, Mediterranean and North African cultures. 

Pita bread from Ash’Kara.

Ash’Kara’s hummus starts with dried chickpeas that are cooked, pureed, and mixed with a serious wealth of sesame seed tahini paste, fresh lemon juice, sea salt, toasted ground cumin, parsley and smoked paprika. The dip is puddled with single origin California olive oil.

This whipped delight is bursting with flavor, and light years-creamier than that refrigerated stuff in a tub that’s mostly beans. 

Typical flat, dry pita bread—or even the better, softer pita loaves, are basically tasteless but make a simple dip conveyance tool. The pita at Ash’Kara is made with locally grown heirloom wheat freshly milled in Boulder with sourdough starter, yeast and local honey. After the loaves rise, they are slid into a hot, wood-burning oven and arrive at the table warm, fragrant and puffed up with moist steam. They are the definition of irresistible. 

I also truly enjoyed the grilled chicory and blood orange salad, drunken mushrooms, the fried cauliflower with feta, the sweet-glazed baked eggplant and olive oil cake at Ash’Kara, but I’d be happy to dip that warm pita into that creamy hummus for the rest of my life.  

Boulder Recipe Flashback: How Janos Got Hot

Janos Wilder started his cooking career at the Gold Hill Inn west of Boulder before studying food and opening several award-winning eateries in Arizona including Janos in Tucson. Here’s his salsa recipe from “Janos Recipes and Tales from a Southwest Restaurant” (Ten Speed Press, 1989). It’s the perfect way to use the flood of fresh produce coming from Boulder County farmers. 

Downtown Kitchen, Tucson Chef Janos Wilder

Janos Salsa Fresca

6 medium ripe tomatoes, diced

1/2 red onion, finely diced

1 bunch green onions, finely diced

1 Anaheim chile, peeled, seeded and diced

1 poblano chile, peeled, seeded and diced

1 bunch fresh cilantro, roughly chopped

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh garlic

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar 

2 tablespoon olive oil

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Combine all the ingredients, mix well and refrigerate at least an hour before serving. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve with tortilla chips or baked pita triangles.

Note: To peel fresh peppers, roast them over an open flame or in the oven until blackened. Once blackened, place them in a plastic bag to steam for 10 minutes. The blackened skin should peel off easily. Be sure to wear gloves! 

Culinary Calendar: First Bite is Coming

La Festa, Louisville’s annual celebration of its Italian heritage, is Aug. 14 at Memory Square Park. On the menu are sausage sandwiches, pizza and pizzelles. … The inaugural Nederland Jazz and Wine Festival is Aug. 20 at Chipeta Park in Nederland. Tickets: nedjazzwine.com … The dates for Boulder’s County’s First Bite restaurant week are Sept. 30 to Oct. 9. firstbiteboulder.com … Events this week: Vail Wine Classic, August 11-13, vailwineclassic.com; and the Palisade Peach Festival, Aug. 12–13, palisadepeachfest.com … Coming up: Cidermass, Aug. 20, Snowmass, cidermass.com; Watermelon Day, Aug. 20, Arkansas Valley Fair, Rocky Ford, arkvalleyfair.com; Colorado Polish Food Festival, Aug. 27-28, Denver, polishfoodfestival.org; and The Boulder Library main branch hosts a free garden seed swap Aug. 27 as part of the Free Seed Library. … Send information about upcoming food and drink events, classes, festivals and restaurant openings to: Nibbles@BoulderWeekly.com 

Boulder County Farm Stand Guide 

Look for the 2022 Guide to Boulder County’s roadside Farm Stands at: boulderweekly.com/cuisine/down-on-the-farm-stand.

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