In all my years of eating hummus, I cannot believe I’ve never made it from scratch before. I really don’t know why, because it takes all of five wee little minutes if you’ve got the proper equipment (food processor) and are using canned chickpeas. The finished product is so much better than anything you can get at the store – I mean, seriously, until I had an epiphany the other day, I’ve no idea why I’ve never made hummus before.
Years and years ago, I worked for a Mediterranean restaurant in Florida. In our downtime, we picked parsley leaves from the stems for tabbouleh. I ate more hummus and baba ghanoosh than I care to remember. Maybe because I saw it being made by the truckload in the kitchen that in the back of my mind I thought it was a daunting endeavor. Who knows. Here I am telling you that I’ve been missing out in a big way, and I’m betting you have too.
The best thing with this, as with any food you make at home, is that the quality is far superior than any store-bought hummus. Plus it’s about half the price (or even more than half, really). Hummus really isn’t all that expensive from the store, but when you factor in that I can eat a ton of it in a week (at least one big container of that Sabra brand, and that’s about 4 bucks and change), it pays to make it at home. Plus I’m kind of broke these days. I always have canned chick peas on hand, but you’ll get an even better end result if you start with dried and cook them up ahead of time. A bag of dried chickpeas is like 80 cents or something (they were on sale at my local Kroger this week. 80 cents I can do).
This recipe, one of Mark Bittman’s which I found on the epicurious.com site, says that tahini is optional, which I put my foot down and have to disagree with completely. Tahini MAKES the hummus. If you don’t have any lurking around in your fridge already, you might find the cost of one container to be alarming; but you only use a small amount of it and you’re going to be making this again and again. A container of tahini in your fridge is a worthwhile investment. Also, I recently learned that hummus is one of the best sources of protein out there. The combination of chickpeas with tahini makes a complete protein – chickpeas on their own are incomplete.
So break out your food processors – or if you don’t have one, you can always make it by hand with mortar and pestle. I managed a batch of falafel once without the food processor, as we’d temporarily loaned ours out to a restaurant where the boy once worked. Anything is doable and delicious.
adapted from Mark Bittman
• 2 cups drained well-cooked or canned chickpeas, liquid reserved (Note: if you’re starting with dried chickpeas, 1 cup of dried yields a bit more than 2 cups cooked. And it’ll take you a lot longer to cook those, so if you’re on a time crunch, keep that in mind).
• 1/2 cup tahini (sesame paste), with some of its oil
• 1/4 cup olive oil
• 2 cloves garlic, peeled
• Salt (I like a lot) and freshly ground black pepper to taste
• 1 tablespoon ground cumin
• Juice of 1 lemon (you might need more, I like a lot of it)
1. Put everything in the bowl of a food processor and begin to process; add the chickpea liquid until you’ve produced a smooth puree. Taste and adjust the seasoning (do you need more salt? Lemon? Garlic? Add it!)
2. If you’re serving to guests, put in a pretty bowl, sprinkle with paprika and drizzle the top with some olive oil. You can even toast up a few pine nuts to toss on top. Serve alongside some raw vegetables or lavash or pita wedges for dipping. If you’re not serving to guests, plop the whole thing in a Tupperware container and just have it at the ready in the fridge. I’m a big fan of standing at the fridge, doors open, dipping various things in it.