I'm fairly convinced that hummus is some of the best stuff on earth. It might look beige and boring in the bowl, but this blend of soft chickpeas, olive oil, tahini, lemon juice, and garlic creates a dip that is so much more than the sum of its parts. Skip the store bought stuff — making it yourself is so easy and will be far tastier than just about anything from the deli section.
Hummus is a Middle Eastern invention, and I am thankful for it. Chickpeas are a sweet and nutty legume that become incredibly creamy when blended, especially once you add a few spoonfuls of sesame tahini and a healthy glug of good olive oil. Lemon juice gives the blend a tart balance while garlic adds its own pungent punch. It's fantastic with just these five ingredients (plus salt and pepper), but can be even better with spices like sumac, cumin, and smoked paprika.
The hummus we're making here uses canned chickpeas, which are readily available, easily stored for spur of the moment hummus cravings, and also surprisingly good. This said, hummus made from chickpeas that you cook yourself is a beautiful thing. If you have the time and inclination, I encourage you to try it. You'll need about two cups of cooked chickpeas for this recipe (roughly 1/3 pound dried chickpeas).
If you love super smooth hummus, it's also worth taking the time to pinch the skins from each chickpea. This is a time-consuming endeavor, no question; but hummus made with these denuded chickpeas is smooth as silk.
Tahini is one ingredient you might not have in your pantry. In a pinch, you can substitute other nut butters, but there's something about the earthy, slightly bitter taste of tahini made from sesame seeds that adds that little "something" to hummus. Stored in the fridge, a big jar of tahini will last for quite some time, so you don't have to worry about using it up right away. Along with hummus, tahini is also fantastic in salad dressings, sauces for grilled foods, and as a spread on sandwiches.
Hummus is more of an idea than a recipe — this is my favorite version, but there is lots of room for others. Play around with the proportions, add some spices, and make this recipe your own.
Do you already have a favorite hummus recipe? What do you put in yours?
Drain the chickpeas and rinse under cool running water.
How to Make Hummus
Makes about 2 cups
What You Need
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas (roughly 2 cups drained, cooked chickpeas)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons tahini
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice (from 1/2 lemon), plus more to taste
1 small clove of garlic, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
To serve: pita wedges, pita chips, raw sliced vegetables
A food processor or blender
1. Drain and rinse the chickpeas: Drain the chickpeas into a strainer and rinse under cool running water. If time and patience allows, pinch the skins from each of the chickpeas; this will make your hummus smoother.
2. Combine all ingredients in the food processor: Combine the chickpeas, olive oil, tahini, lemon juice, garlic, salt, and pepper in the bowl of the food processor or blender.
3. Blend hummus until smooth: Process the hummus continuously until it becomes very smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed to integrate any large chunks.
4. Taste and adjust seasonings: Taste and add more of any of the ingredients to taste. If your hummus is stiffer than you'd like, add more lemon juice or olive oil to thin it out and make the hummus creamier.
5. Transfer to a bowl and serve: Scrape the hummus into a bowl and serve with pita chips or raw vegetables. Hummus will also keep for up to a week in a sealed container in the refrigerator.
• For even tastier and more authentic hummus, try cooking your own chickpeas from scratch: How to Cook Beans on the Stovetop
• Add 1 to 3 teaspoons of spices for more flavor, like cumin, sumac, harissa, or smoked paprika.
• Drizzle a little pomegranate molasses or sprinkle a pinch of sumac on top.
• For a roasted vegetable hummus, blend in 1 cup of roasted vegetables such as eggplant, zucchini, bell peppers, or garlic.
• For an olive hummus, fold in 3/4 cup of chopped green or black olives.
• For a nutty hummus, blend in some lightly toasted walnuts, almonds, or pine nuts.
• For a more lemony hummus, add 1/4 cup of chopped preserved lemons.
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This post and recipe have been updated. Originally published 02/03/10.
(Images: Emma Christensen)