Not long ago, someone wrote to the editors at EOW asking for the best hummus recipe and we got right to work. Hummus has long been one of those things that make me think of the cute guy across the bar. He's hot and nice to look at and talk to, but he'd be way too much work in a relationship. Even though I do a lot of cooking and it comes quite easily to me, I had relegated hummus to the too much work list.
There is significant debate over the origins of this delicious dip/spread/dish of love. In fact, back in 1998, Lebanon was suing Israel over it. Bottom line is, it is a very popular Mediterranean food, made of chickpeas, tahini (a sesame seed paste), lemon juice and other aromatics. It can be found at every posh party and on most appetizer menus in town.
I turned to my good friend Google for some guidance. I can't tell you how surprised I was to find recipe after recipe, all incredibly simple and terribly easy to make. Who knew? There were all sorts of variations, some incorporating the tahini, others without garlic. I decided to follow the basic principles, but did want to make 2 different batches: with canned beans and the other starting with dry beans. The reason was to see if there was any difference in the final result and to determine if it was worth the extra step. It is.
The hummus resulting from the canned beans had all the same ingredients, was pureed for the same amount of time, but ended up gritty, coarser. The taste was still great, but the texture was a bit off-putting for me. Also, you don't have to eat heavy, lumpy hummus. You are in control of the hummus' consistency. Add more liquid to make it more spreadable and delectable. Here's what I did:
- 1 to1 1/2 cups dry chickpeas (soaked overnight in water and 1 teaspoon of baking soda)
- 2 whole cloves garlic, unpeeled
- 3 tablespoons Tahini (sesame paste)
- Zest of 1 lemon
- Juice of 1 to 1 1/2 lemons
- Approximately 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
- White pepper
The night before, rinse the chickpeas and soak them in plenty of water and the baking powder. The next day, rinse them out until the water runs clear, then put them in a pot with the garlic cloves and boil them until soft; about an hour. Once they soften, remove the garlic cloves, strain, rinse, drain and set aside the beans. Should you decide to use canned beans, drain and rinse them before proceeding.
I used a blender, but a food processor will work too. To the blender add the tahini, cumin, about a half teaspoon of white pepper, the lemon zest, the juice of one lemon and the beans. Begin pulsing, then add half of the olive oil to keep things moving. You will alternate between the remainder of the oil, lemon juice and water until you reach the consistency you desire.
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When you have just the right consistency, give it a taste and adjust the seasoning with salt, pepper and lemon peel. I have to say I absolutely loved the zest in it. I found it made the hummus really vibrant, clean and fresh. When I plated it, I swirled a bit more olive oil and grated more of the zest over the top. Delicious!
What dish do you make that seems super complicated but is a breeze to put together?