There’s Hummus Among Us

As long as we’re talking about pitta breads, how about things to put on/in them?  Since my pitta bread don’t always puff up when I tell them to (even when I shout at them very loudly), I may have to admit that I often come down on the side of “on”-them-things out of necessity.  And, if you go to the trouble of making your own pitta in the first place, wouldn’t it be nice to have an “on”-them-thing worth raving about?  For me, that’s hummus.  Or when I’m feeling a bit less lazy, roasted eggplant and tahini dip.  But most of the time just hummus.

Now you may be wondering why hummus is rave-worthy.  After all, it’s kind of a boring beige color most of the time, and the stuff from the store can be hit or miss.  This is why making hummus at home is so worth it.  You can add sun-dried tomatoes, roasted peppers, or roasted garlic to jazz up the flavor.  And after the pulverizing is over, you have a blank beige canvas to decorate with everything from olive oil, to spices and herbs.

Unfortunately, as an avid practitioner of the non-recipe cooking approach, it’s a bit difficult for me to give you exact measurements for what you should put in your hummus, so please take the following recipe as a suggestion.  Google backs me up that there are a million different ingredient ratios for hummus, and that the following is a good middle-ground.  Perhaps more importantly, you should make a hummus that is delicious to you, so go wild!

Simple Hummus
2 cups cooked chickpeas (see below for cooking instructions)
1/2 cup chickpea water (from cooking)
1/4 cup tahini
2-3 medium cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt or to taste
Juice of 1 lime or lemon
1 tablespoon olive oil
To garnish: olive oil, paprika, ground cumin, dried oregano, and diced fresh parsley.

First, in a mini food processor, pulverize the garlic, olive oil, and about 1/4 cup of chickpeas and 1/4 cup of chickpea water.  This should disperse the garlic better than just chopping and adding it in at the end.  Next I add the rest of the ingredients, except a bit less salt, and pulverize again.  At this point I taste the hummus.  It may need more salt, tahini, lime juice, or liquid.  I like my hummus to be smooth and not too dense, which means plenty of food processor action and sometimes extra liquid.  When you’re happy with your hummus, spoon it into a bowl and smooth out the top.  To garnish, drizzle some olive oil over the smooth top of the hummus; this helps keep the hummus from drying out.  Finally, sprinkle any or all of the spices on top.

Cooking Chickpeas
Chickpeas are some of the easiest beans to cook because it’s hard to overcook them.  The one thing you do have to remember to do (in addition to turning the stove off eventually) is soak them overnight first.  I recently started using just-cooked and still-warm chickpeas to make hummus, and I think the hummus was smoother than cold or canned chickpeas.  To soak the chickpeas, put them in a non-reactive bowl and cover them with at least twice their volume of water.  I usually cook 2-3 cups of dried chickpeas at a time and use them to make a few batches of hummus, chickpea patties (like non-deep fried felafel), or put them on salads.  To cook the chickpeas, drain the soaking water and rinse the chickpeas thoroughly.  Then in a medium or large pot, cover the chickpeas with two times their volume of water again and turn the heat on high until the water reaches a boil.  Then turn the heat down to maintain a simmer, and let the chickpeas cook until very soft.  This could take 1-2 hours depending on the freshness of your dried chickpeas and how long you’re willing to wait for softer chickpeas.  Save some of the cooking water for making hummus!

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