Two summers ago, I got a fever. And the only prescription was more hummus. I had just discovered the wonder of quick, easy, delicious homemade hummus, which cost me a mere $1.30 for five servings, and I got a little excited. I went a little overboard. I ate hummus every weekday for lunch for a month straight.
Hummus on a sandwich; hummus on a salad; hummus as a snack with carrots, cucumbers, or pita bread for dipping; hummus on a spoon. It was crazy. And incredibly creamy, easy-to-make, flavorful, healthy, and cost-effective. It kept me full but energized. Summer 2009 was most definitely the Summer of Hummus.
But then I OD’ed on it, as any five-days-a-week-for-four-weeks hummus-eater inevitably would.
After a six-week, post-overdose rehabilitation period, I returned to normal, which is to say that, armed with carrot sticks, I still could go through an entire tub of hummus in an hour; but I’ve made an effort to spread it out across a week and incorporate regular hummus hiatuses.
Nevertheless, even during those hummus-free times, I find myself toasting them into a crunchy, chip-like snack or simmering them into a spicy, comforting curry dinner. There’s no denying that I’m a garbanzo bean junkie.
For those who haven’t made hummus before, this has got to be the quickest, easiest, cheapest appetizer or snack food you could possibly make. Even more importantly, there are infinite possibilities for flavoring the hummus with fresh vegetables and herbs (e.g., roasted red peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, cilantro), or using relatively mild vegetables (e.g., spinach, chard) to add color and nutrients to this addictive dip.
Hummus (adapted from Paula Wolfert)
Makes 2 1/2 cups
I slightly increased the amount of chickpeas (garbanzo beans) and dialed down the tahini because Wolfert’s original 2-to-1 chickpeas-to-tahini ratio contains more of the sesame seed paste than I prefer. You can still taste the tahini in the hummus, but it’s not quite so overwhelming and leaves some room for the lemon juice and garlic to shine through. As a result of using less tahini, this hummus is more figure-friendly, especially if served with carrot sticks or cucumber slices. Also, I added some cayenne pepper (and optional red pepper flakes or fresh ground chili paste) for a touch of zing. Finally, I recommend garnishing the hummus with a bit of paprika, parsley, toasted pine nuts, and a drizzle of olive oil.
2 c. canned low-sodium chickpeas (or dried chickpeas, soaked overnight and boiled for 1½ hours until very soft)
3 to 4 garlic cloves, peeled and diced
3 Tbsp. tahini (sesame seed paste)
2 to 3 lemons, juiced
½ tsp. cayenne pepper
1/4 c. to 1/2 c. water
salt, to taste
2 Tbsp. parsley, chopped
2 tsp. paprika
2 tsp. olive oil
red pepper flakes or fresh ground chili paste to taste
2 Tbsp. pine nuts, toasted (garnish)
carrot sticks, cucumber slices and pita bread wedges for dipping
Put chickpeas, garlic, tahini, juice from 2 lemons, and cayenne pepper in a food processor. Blend until completely smooth, adding 1/4 c. to 1/2 c. water to assist the blending process and help the hummus reach your desired consistency. Add salt and juice from remaining lemon to taste. (If you prefer a smoother texture than what you get from the food processor, press the mixture through a food mill.)
If possible, let hummus sit for a day in the refrigerator to allow flavors to fully develop.
Serve, sprinkled with parsley, paprika, red pepper flakes (or fresh chili paste), and pine nuts and topped off with a drizzle of olive oil. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 10 days.
Roasted Red Pepper Hummus
1 regular hummus recipe (above)
3 red bell peppers
Red peppers can be roasted in an oven set to broil or over high heat on a barbecue. Whichever method is easiest for you, roast peppers for approximately 8 minutes per side until the outside skin becomes charred and the peppers are very tender. Let cool for a few minutes, and then peel off the charred skin.
Add roasted red peppers to an already-made hummus mixture or at the initial blending phase in the recipe above, and blend in a food processor until evenly disbursed and completely smooth. Garnish per instructions in the regular hummus recipe above.
1 regular hummus recipe (above)
1 c. frozen spinach, thawed and drained or 2 c. raw spinach, lightly packed
Generally, I’d prefer using fresh, raw spinach, but all I had on hand this time around was frozen spinach. Either will work well. Add spinach to an already-made hummus mixture or at the initial blending phase in the recipe above, and blend in a food processor until evenly disbursed and completely smooth. Garnish per instructions in the regular hummus recipe above.