Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Fit to the Finish: Sabra Factory Tour Tasting Revealed

Sabra Factory Tour & Tasting Revealed
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If you’ve never tried hummus before, or never made your own – you may not realize that hummus is made from relatively innocuous looking chickpeas that pack a nutritional and flavorful punch. I learned that a medium-sized chickpea makes the best flavored and textured hummus – something for those of you who make you own hummus to look for when you shop for dried peas.

The Sabra Tastemakers Panel made up of these fellow bloggers, arrived at the Factory early on Wednesday morning, where we were greeted with the sign below!

After we signed in and introduced to Mike S., our host for the event, we got to wear very lovely beige lab coats with the Sabra logo, lovely hair nets, clear goggles and hardhats. Sadly, they wouldn’t let us take pictures at that point, but there was a camera crew there filming the whole event!

In the factory, we learned that the factory is Silver-LEEDS certified, which means they have gone through the requirements to reduce energy and waste through things like high R-value insulation and recycling water. We then got to see the sanitation system, the many 1-ton bag of chickpeas waiting to be turned into hummus and taste the chickpea paste after it had been cooked and mashed. (Insider secret – They wouldn’t tell us how many pounds of chickpeas they go through in a year, but two days before we came, they produced 60 tons of hummus in one day!) We walked through the factory, dodging doorways with foaming soap that squirted all over your shoes if you weren’t careful, watching with amazement as the hummus came down the tubes, into the little containers and rolled its way into the packaging room.

Just released Basil-Pesto and Buffalo Style hummus were waiting for us when we got to the Quality Test Kitchen, where we met with Executive Research Chef MaryDawn Wright. She showed us the right way to eat hummus (spoon side down) and let us taste each one. They were fabulous – although the Basil Pesto was definitely my favorite.

As if that first tasting wasn’t enough, we tasted Sabra’s new Homestyle, Classic, Southwestern Style, and Chunky Pico de Gallo salsaflavors, then the Guacamole, in both spicy and classic. The guacamole flavors looked the same, but the spicy had a big kick. And finally, we tasted the greek style yogurt dips in Spinach Artichoke, Roasted Garlic Veggie, and Onions and Fresh Herb. My favorite was the Roasted Garlic Veggie.

I was so full – even though I took tiny bites of chips, hummus, salsa and guacamole. But they weren’t done giving us food. Chef Columbe Jacobsen, former contestant on “The Next Food Network Star” came in and presented us with lunch. All around hummus of course. Here’s where it got really interesting.If you think hummus is just for dipping – prepare to be impressed. First, a Mediterrean Salad with hummus, veggies, pita chips and Sabra Greek Yogurt Dip. Next, a crudité platter for the classic hummus “dipper.” For the meat lovers, a chicken salad wrap with hummus in place of the mayonnaise. And the wraps on the right were my choice, vegetarian wraps with sautéed mushrooms, onions, greens and hummus. Delicious – although I could not eat the whole thing.

If that weren’t enough – Columbe brought in a beautiful blue tray with – ready? Chocolate hummus. No kidding. She combined hummus with grated chocolate, warmed it and added some toasted coconut and homemade caramel for garnishes. I admit I was worried because, it just seemed a little bit wrong. I am a chocolate lover, and this was very different.

I was brave and tried it. At first, I just tasted the chocolate, but with the second little bite, the sharper undertones of the hummus came through. It was very good. I’ll have the recipe soon, and I’ll put it on the site.

Lastly, we got to learn about Sabra’s history and its goal of opening up the tastebuds of Americans around the world. I’m looking forward to experimenting with hummus and I hope you will look forward to participating in an upcoming Sabra giveaway!

Does seeing these dishes make you want to try some new hummus recipes?

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