Homemade Hummus

Smooth, tasty, and as old school as it gets — homemade hummus is really simple.  This classic chickpea and tahini dish has been made for centuries in the middle east — no food processors needed.  (But if you have one, it takes less effort.)

Homemade hummus topped with olive oil
Homemade hummus topped with olive oil
cooked chickpeas
cooked chickpeas

Learn to make hummus at home and you will be a happy person, and keep some change in your pocket, too, as it’s a frugal dish.  There are a couple tips for getting the best consistency, starting with cooking dried chickpeas.  Canned are fine as a substitute, though the super creamy consistency of your hummus will suffer a bit.  Consider this recipe a template.  You can adjust seasoning and consistency easily by tweaking the ingredients.  Using fresh lemon juice adds an important lively note, while garlic and ground cumin add savory flavor.  Enjoy!

for Lucy

Hummus
makes about 2 cups

2 1/4 cups soft cooked chickpeas * (two 16 oz. cans chickpeas, drained, may be subsituted)
1/3 cup (3 oz) tahini
1/2 cup water
sea salt
1 small clove garlic, crushed
3 – 4 TB lemon juice
3 TB extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling on top
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
1/8 tsp. ground cayenne pepper

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and grind until smooth.  If you are using your own cooked chickpeas (recipe below), start with 1 tsp. salt.  If you are using canned chickpeas, start with 1/2 tsp. salt. Process until smooth, and taste the hummus.  Adjust salt, lemon juice, and spices to your liking.  The cayenne pepper won’t make this dish spicy at all — it serves to activate your taste buds.

This recipe makes a lightly seasoned, light and fluffy hummus.  Feel free to add a little more water if you prefer a thinner consistency.  Serve in a shallow bowl or platter.  If you like, drizzle with your best quality extra virgin olive oil, and perhaps add some additional cooked chickpeas or olives.  Serve at room temperature with pita, boiled new potatoes, cucumber spears, anything you thing would taste great with hummus.  Store uneaten hummus in the fridge for up to a week.  Hummus freezes well.  Just thaw gently and bring to room temp before eating.

If you don’t have a food processor, use a large mortar and pestle to grind and blend the ingredients until smooth.  They’ve been doing this for centuries in the middle east.  Though there is an ongoing debate as to the origins of hummus, I credit the Lebanese.

If you don’t have a large mortar and pestle, try using a large bowl and spoon.  It will really help to cook your own chickpeas rather than using canned if you use this technique.  Canned chickpeas contain salt and calcium chloride to keep them whole and firm — just the opposite of what you want from chickpeas for hummus.  Add some soft chickpeas to the bowl, and smash them against the inside of the bowl.  Repeat until they are all smashed.  Add the other ingredients and stir or whisk until smooth.

* I recommend that you cook your own chickpeas.  They are inexpensive, easy to prepare, and the texture of your finished hummus will be smoother.  In a large pot, put one pound rinsed dried chickpeas, 2 quarts water, and 1/4 tsp. baking soda.  Bring to a simmer, cover and barely simmer for about 3 – 4 hours, or until the chickpeas are very soft but still holding their shape.  Drain and cool to room temperature.  You can see my cooked chickpeas in the photo above.  This will make about twice as much cooked chickpeas as needed in this hummus recipe.  You may freeze the extra cooked chickpeas for use in another recipe, or just make a big batch of hummus and store in the freezer.

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