A New Take on Hummus

Is hummus healthy? Yes. Is it easy to make hummus at home? Double yes. All you need is a food processor. Some people use a blender. You can dispense with the appliances all together and use a potato masher. I’ll bet the ancient Syrians didn’t have blenders or food processors and they invented hummus.

So, what’s my interest in hummus? My husband went on a plant-based diet a couple of years ago and embarked on a mission to drain Bitar’s Grocery near our house dry of hummus. Bitar’s has the best hummus in town, and it’s very reasonably priced, but my husband eats so much of it that I needed to learn how to make it myself if we weren’t going to end up in the hummus poorhouse.

I make a lot of hummus at a time and freeze it. Freezing hummus is not as complicated, as some websites make it out to be. So long as you are freezing freshly-made hummus and eat it within a reasonable period of time, you shouldn’t have a problem. I use containers similar to these. You can also recycle freezer-safe take out containers with snap-on lids.

Hummus is traditionally made of pureed chickpeas, garlic, onion, spices, tahini, lemon juice and olive oil and there are hummus recipes all over the Internet. Here is the recipe I normally follow:

  • 1 1/5 cups cooked chickpeas
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup minced onion
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • ground cumin to taste
  • salt to taste
  • smoked paprika to taste
  • cooking water from the chickpeas (add if needed)

Place everything in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade and process until smooth, adding however much cooking water from the chickpeas you need to make a smooth paste.

When I say I follow a recipe, I usually don’t. For me, most recipes are guidelines. And so it goes with hummus. I don’t use canned beans. I buy 4 pound bags of Goya chickpeas (more economical for me, but I know I will use them) at El Paisano, a Mexican supermarket in my neighborhood and I cook the chickpeas, (1 cup dry beans makes 3 cups cooked) in a stovetop pressure cooker. I don’t remove the skin from the cooked chickpeas because the creaminess this will purportedly impart to the hummus is not worth the effort. At least to me. It might be to you.

My homemade Tahini.

I don’t buy tahini. I make my own in a food processor with bulk sesame seeds I buy at the Hung Vuong Super Market, also in my neighborhood. It’s easy. The key is making enough so you have it handy when you make hummus. Here’s a recipe. I store the tahini in the refrigerator and it keeps for several months.

I used olive oil when I first started making hummus, but I don’t anymore. Hummus is composed of ingredients with strong flavors, and I find that the flavor of the olive oil gets lost. There is plenty of liquid from the beans and lemon juice for smooth blending. All the oil adds is fat and calories.

I understand using an excellent virgin olive oil for dipping, salads and for simple grilling. And pouring a layer of good olive oil on top of a dish of hummus before you serve it works too. But no one will notice if you leave it out of the main recipe. Try it and see.

And now for my hummus twist! You might remember that I did a post on West African cooking a few months ago. Two of the ingredients I used in the recipes I tried were a robust peanut butter I purchased at the All African Food Market in West Philadelphia, and black eyed peas that I used to make West African Peanut Stew.

Try replacing all or part of the chickpeas in your hummus with black eyed peas and part or all of the tahini with peanut butter! You can keep the spices the same or adjust them to your taste. I made some substitutions in my last batch of hummus and it worked out great.

I’d like to take the credit for making hummus with peanut butter, but it’s been done. Here’s another site with a recipe. I remember reading somewhere that you should use a natural peanut butter meaning one without added sugar, which made the peanut butter I got at the All African Food Market perfect for the job.

And you don’t have to limit yourself to chickpeas when you make hummus either. I love the foody umami character that black eyed peas adds. I used about 1 part black eyed peas to 3 parts chickpeas. You can substitute other beans too, partially or entirely. Look at this site for some ideas. Happy hummus making!

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