I’ll admit. I haven’t always been a fan of hummus. It’s one of those “hip” foods that foodies discovered early on. Back in (those long ago days with) Teach for America, it used to come in my packaged lunch with these dried up triangles of pita. Anything that comes in a pre-boxed meal is becoming pretty mainstream, right?
Well, I still wasn’t convinced. In my mind, hummus wasn’t really a dip, but more of a grainy paste. Plus, it was such an unattractive color. I just wasn’t buying it. I really kind of thought that no one liked it, and they were pretending they did since it was so in.
I really only gave hummus another chance because I’ve gotten into this foolish habit of just making ALL of something. For example, if I’m going to add chickpeas to a stew, I’ll just make the entire bag of chickpeas. Then I’m all, so…two quarts of cooked chickpeas…what do we do now?
I did a lot of research on hummus, and it turns out there are specific ways to avoid my primary complaints: dryness, graininess, and unappetizing appearance.
1) Apparently, peeling the translucent membranes off every single chickpea is a thing. I did this activity for approximately four minutes before asking existential questions like, “If this is your one life, Randle (I mean if it is, I’m not sure), do you want to spend it peeling membranes off chickpeas?” No, no I did not, but I do wish someone else would have peeled all my chickpeas, because I think this step actually does make a difference. Note, Deb’s cloudy, pillowy hummus.
2) In much the way that whipping eggs and sugar properly is important to making perfect cookies, it’s important to add ingredients in the right order, and to keep blending for longer than you might think.
3) Adding a bit of garnish (which I’m sure y’all have noticed I love) goes a long way. Try topping this hummus with capers (for color and briny flavor), paprika, and some delicious, fruity olive oil.
In the end, as you might have guessed, I made hummus that wasn’t grainy or dry or ugly, and I became a hummus lover, and my fridge is already full of a third batch of the stuff as I write. The recipe I settled on is from the gorgeous Jerusalem cookbook. It’s one of those books that seems to teach a whole new style of cooking. It requires different pantry staples, different go-to styles of preparation. How exciting. More to come.
Adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi’s Jerusalem
600 g Drained and rinsed cooked chickpeas (garbanzo beans), about 3⅔ cups*
1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons light tahini paste
4-5 Tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice
3 Cloves garlic, minced
6-8 Tablespoons ice-cold water
1½ teaspoons salt, or to taste
Strong olive oil
1. Peel membranes off chickpeas, or do it for as long as you can, and then just make the hummus. ACCEPT YOUR LIMITATIONS.
2. In food processor, blitz chickpeas until a paste forms (you may have to scrape down the sides several times). If you have the type of food processor that allows you to add things with the lid on, add tahini, garlic, lemon juice, and salt, continuing to blitz. Otherwise, add garlic, blitz. Add a little tahini paste, blitz. Add the rest of the tahini, blitz. Then add 4 Tablespoons of the lemon juice and the salt and blitz once more.
3. When smooth paste begins to form, add ice water 1 Tablespoon at a time, scraping down sides as needed. I added a full 8 Tablespoons of ice water (remember my qualms about dry hummus?), but you should test the hummus according to your preferences. I also added the fifth Tablespoon of lemon juice. Continue to blitz until very smooth, about five minutes.
4. Scoop out into container and let rest 30 minutes before serving. If not using immediately, store in the refrigerator for up to three days, where flavors will further develop. Allow to return to room temperature before serving. When ready to serve, sprinkle with paprika, scatter capers over the top, and drizzle with olive oil. Serve with pita, pita chips, or celery and carrot sticks.
* Of course, I recommend fresh chickpeas, but canned work as well. If cooking them fresh, make sure to rinse and soak chickpeas overnight, in enough water to cover. To cook, drain chickpeas, heat medium saucepan over high heat and add chickpeas and 1 teaspoon baking soda. Cook for three minutes, stirring to prevent burning or sticking. Add 6 ½ cups water and boil. As it cooks, skim off foam and/or skins that float up. Cook 20-40 minutes, checking frequently for doneness. When ready, they will be quite tender, as Ottolenghi says, “breaking up easily when pressed between your thumb and finger, almost but not quite mushy.”