Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Do you like hummus?

Hummus can definitely be a love or hate thing. Seems that people are pretty passionate about the humble chickpea dip. I'd never tried hummus until eating it at a local Lebanese deli and have loved it since. My own recipe is loosely based on Alton Brown's method but I've since discarded his recipe for that awful, awful phrase of "doing it by eye". That's what my mom has always told me when I would ask her for a recipe with measurements, "oh I just do it by eye" or "el ojo porciento" which translates to the "eye percentage". As a beginning cook what it translated to was frustration when things didn't turn out for me the first go around. Now I'm doing it to others - ah, the circle of life.

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Really though, hummus couldn't be more simple and adaptable. A friend of mine told me her husband made his with half pinto beans and it was extremely creamy. Quite good actually. I do admit that I'm a tad particular about my hummus. I'll eat the storebought stuff just fine but at home I avoid adding heavy spices or making super thick, gloppy dip. Instead I prefer a homemade hummus that is impeccably smooth with just the right balance of lemon juice and plenty of fruity olive oil for a spread that should squish out the sides of a pita should you make a sandwich. Mmmmm.

Note: You'll notice I don't include tahini (sesame seed paste) in my hummus. First, with nut allergies in our home I can't guarantee that there's no cross contamination in the manufacturing process and second, ever since leaving it out I don't miss it. Alton Brown uses peanut butter instead and I could technically add sunflower seed butter but like I said, I don't miss it.

Hummus

1 large clove of garlic
1 (15oz) can garbanzo beans (or chickpeas, however they're known in your neck of the woods) - drained but reserve the liquid
2 tablespoons of lemon juice - this is where the "by eye" comes into play
kosher salt to taste
about 1/3 cup of olive oil - again by eye and to taste. I like my hummus a bit loose.


With the food processor running, chuck in your garlic clove. It should mince as it hits the blade and you won't be frustrated wondering why your fancy brick of a food processor can't chop a measly clove of garlic. Not that I've done that. I will say reading your manual is a good thing.

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Dump in the garbanzos. I'm making a double batch as usual since my kids love this stuff as much as I do. If you like hummus I suggest you do the same.

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Grind the garbanzos but you'll notice that no matter how much you process them, they will still be quite course.

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This is where the bean juice comes in handy. Now I know, some people avoid using the bean juice because they think that it will give them gas. Actually most people who are accustomed to eating beans do just fine with adding the bean liquid.

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Add about half the reserved bean liquid into the food processor and continue processing until the beans are very smooth. Add more liquid if necessary. See what a difference a little bean juice can make? Don't fear the bean juice. Okay I'll stop saying those words.

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Add the salt and lemon juice and process again. Taste at this point since beans can be pretty bland. I use a good bit of kosher salt to taste.

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Now, with the food processor running, drizzle in the olive oil. No I didn't measure, I just pour straight from the bottle until I get the right consistency then taste again for salt.

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The hummus should now be creamy and rich yet balanced.

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Oh yeah. I like mine slathered on pita bread maybe with some red bell pepper. My kids love to dip carrots sticks, pretzels, their fingers. This is good stuff.

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4 comments:

Adrian said...

I LOVE hummus. Thanks for sharing.

Stacy said...

Oh, yum. We don't eat it fast enough to buy it often, and we don't keep tahini on hand. I'll try it your way. Mmm, and Alton's way. Thanks for the inspiration!

Carrie said...

spring and hummus - must haves!

the phrase i grew up hearing was "cook until done." drove me nuts too, but i swear things like that urge us to really figure out the food beyond the recipe! . . . and yes i say it all the time :)

Marielle said...

Adrian and Stacy you're welcome!

Carrie I'll gladly carry on the torch for crochety old cooks frustrating whipper snappers into feeling their way in the kitchen. LOL