20 July 2012

Summer of Hummus

Fresh hummus, veggies, and pita

For me, hummus is this summer’s mojito: last year, I drank mojitos like they were going out of style.  As it turns out, I was right: you don’t hear much about mojitos anymore, do you?  I rest my case.


I am so into hummus that I ate it for dinner last night, breakfast this morning, and lunch this afternoon.  A little overindulgent, you say?   Not at all.  As I licked the last of the creamy, lemony paste from the container this afternoon, I seriously contemplated riding my bike to the delicious little middle-eastern restaurant nearby to get more.  Cooler heads prevailed, and I decided that maybe it would be best if I got a grip.  Why would I ride my bike, when I have all the ingredients right here at home?  Duh!

We have everything in our cupboard!

Hummus (which means ‘chickpea’ in Arabic) is a staple of middle eastern cuisine.  It is a dip or spread that consists of two main ingredients: chickpeas and sesame paste (tahini).  It is eaten all over the world, but especially in the Middle East, Mediterranean region, and Africa.  There are literally thousands of ways to make hummus, but in addition to chickpeas and tahini, most recipes have garlic and lemon.  It is served in a variety of fashions: with pita or other flat bread, vegetables, as a spread for sandwiches...almost any way you care to eat it.  Because hummus is mainly beans, it is very high in protein and fiber, which makes it exceptionally healthy. 

Here is my recipe for hummus.  A bit of advice: I’ve made this by soaking and cooking dried beans as well as using a good, quality canned bean.  I much prefer the canned chickpeas because the liquid in which the beans are packed is very flavorful. 

Garlic and lemon are to taste- I prefer lots of lemon and only a bit of garlic, but you may like yours a bit different.  Adjust the recipe to your liking.

I do not care too much for pita, so I prefer to eat hummus with carrots, radishes, or apples.  Also, as I mentioned, there are many versions of hummus...be creative.  You can top it with almost anything you’d like: tomatoes, chopped parsley, chopped eggs, pine nuts, mushrooms, to name a few.  If you have trouble finding tahini at your local grocery, you purchase it at Amazon.

Hummus should have a smooth, creamy consistency.

Hummus

1 can (29 ounces) chickpeas with liquid OR 2 cups of cooked dried chickpeas, with cooking liquid reserved
3/4 of a cup of tahini
1 small clove of garlic, chopped
juice of 2 large lemons
1 teaspoon paprika
olive oil

If using dried beans, soak the beans over night in salted water.  Cook the beans until soft, then drain the beans and save the cooking liquid.  If using canned beans: drain the beans, and reserve the liquid on the side.

In a Cuisinart, begin blending the beans with a small amount (about three tablespoons) of the reserved liquid.  Add garlic, tahini, lemon juice, paprika, salt, and pepper.  Add more of the reserved liquid as needed, and blend until smooth.  Serve cold or room temperature.  Top with a swirl of olive oil before serving.  Adjust the recipe to your own personal taste!




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