One of my primal loves when it comes to food is dipping things. I’m a sucker for dips. A lonely chip is to me a sad and incomplete situation, and if something comes into my life that represents a new way to dip one somewhat dry food into another sloppy and flavorful one, it feels like a life changing revelation.
If you’re like this (admit it, you are), you’ve probably felt the discouragement that comes from realizing that all the best dips are made of cream cheese and mayonnaise and sour cream, which are designed to instantly kill you. I actually made the huge mistake once in a moment of desperation of buying one of those gas-station-shelf cans of room temperature dip substance. Really gross. The point here is that it becomes increasingly difficult to be an avid food dipper and a responsible nutritionist at the same time, and that’s a sad thing.
Hummus, then, is like the grownup’s answer to the responsible finger food dilemma. It’s a dip, first of all, and second of all delicious and filling and a lot more nutritionally beneficial than its creamy cousins. It’s a quick meal to make, complements lots of other foods, gives you an excuse to make bread, and is a great canvas for adding other variations and flavors.
This is a recipe for a basic, “original flavor” kind of hummus. You can use canned chickpeas/garbanzo beans, but I like to buy the dry ones and rehydrate them instead. Some recipes will recommend husking the thin skin off the beans, which is simple but very time consuming. I find it doesn’t make much difference, and I’m guessing it adds some fiber or something to leave them on.
As for tahini (sesame seed paste), this is a pretty crucial ingredient. It adds a nuttiness and a smoothness to the flavor that is hard to replicate. Some recipes suggest using peanut butter as a substitute, but your foodie friends will probably judge you if you do that.
Basic Hummus Recipe
1 can chickpeas/garbanzo beans OR roughly 2 cups rehydrated dry beans
1 garlic clove, roasted if you want
1/4 cup tahini
1/2 tsp cumin (preferably freshly toasted and ground)
1-2 tablespoons juice from fresh lemons (adjust to taste)
olive oil (to taste)
salt and pepper (to taste)
Drain and rinse your beans if you’re using the canned version. In your food processor, process the beans, garlic, and tahini, adding water as needed to help the consistency (the final hummus will be a little less runny once it sets, so bear that in mind as you make it). Add lemon juice, olive oil, cumin, salt and pepper to balance out the flavor. Canned beans will have a little more salt to begin with, so don’t overdo it.
Once you have the flavor where you want it, scoop into a bowl and serve with your favorite flatbread or vegetables. Garnish with additional olive oil and toasted cumin seeds if you have them.
That’s it– it’s simple and delicious. In the future maybe I’ll talk about ways to improvise and improve the flavor, but it’s always good to have the basics to fall back on. This is probably not traditional, but I really enjoy hummus with bread, cheese and wine. Enjoy!