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Wednesday, March 18, 2015


Dried chickpeas. Canned chickpeas are the express lane to hummus, however.
Hummus, that simple Middle Eastern pureé of chickpeas, tahini, and lemon juice has taken the country by storm. Hummus is the next salsa, available in supermarkets and convenience stores everywhere. You can even pick up a snack pack at the airport. In my recipe, a generous dose of olive oil helps to emulsify the ingredients so it's smooth and creamy. Adds some delicious flavor too. Some recipes use more tahini then this one. Tahini is roasted sesame seed paste. Think peanut butter made with sesame seeds. Unlike peanuts, sesame seeds have a bitter edge, so I go light on the tahini. If you add too much, the hummus is bitter and a little chalky.

You can make your own hummus easily if you have a food processor. Without it, it's not easy to get a smooth pureé. There are lots of commercial hummuses out there now. Some are good and some are weird and well, not so good. My favorite brand is Sabra. The original and the red pepper are our favorites. My daughter, who once upon a time described hummus as disgusting, is now a huge fan.

Hummus is a great way to get more beans into your diet. Chickpeas (also known as garbanzo beans) are one of my favorite beans. They are full of protein, fiber, and complex carbohydrates. They soak up flavors and are important is a wide variety of cuisines: Italian, Indian, Middle Eastern. In Italy, they are called ceci and they combine deliciously with pasta, like in this recipe for pasta with chickpeas, spinach, and sausage.

This recipe is super easy because I used canned chickpeas. If you have some time or a pressure cooker, you can cook them yourself. You'll need 1 ¾ - 2 cups cooked chickpeas. You can use the juice from ½ a lemon up to 1 lemon's worth. If you use a whole lemon, it will be fairly tart and lemony. A whole lemon yields about 3 Tablespoons of juice.

(makes about 2 cups)

1 15 oz. can chickpeas, drained but with liquid reserved
juice of ½ - 1 lemon
5 cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
3 Tablespoons tahini
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ - 1 teaspoon salt
4 Tablespoons olive oil plus more for garnish

Add the chickpeas, ½ of the reserved liquid, lemon juice, garlic, and tahini. Process until the chickpeas are a thick pureé. If it's lumpy, add more of the can liquid until it starts to smooth out. Add ½ teaspoon salt, black pepper, and the olive oil. Process until it's smooth and creamy. Check for salt; add more if necessary. Gets better if allowed to mellow in the fridge for a few hours, though it's best eaten near room temperature. To serve, drizzle with more olive oil.