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Dark Days Challenge: Darn Good Hummus, Grilled Focaccia, and a New Broccoli Waldorf

For several years, I was something of an anomaly in the vegetarian world.

I hated hummus.  For those of you unfamiliar with hummus, it’s a staple in Middle Eastern and Greek restaurants, as well as in many vegetarian kitchens.  A savory spread of garbanzo beans puréed with garlic, lemon, garlic, and tahini (a sesame seed paste), it’s a healthy and convenient dip for vegetables or for use as a protein-rich sandwich spread.  I loved the concept of hummus.  I just hadn’t had the opportunity to understand what all the fuss was about.  Frankly, whenever I tried to make hummus, it just wasn’t…well…good.

I tried to make it at home.  I even stepped out of character and followed several recipes to a T in my attempts to make something palatable.

I failed.

Then one day, I discovered cumin, and the world was reborn.

Now, we almost always have some hummus in the fridge.  As I mentioned, it’s great for both sandwiches and high-protein snacks, it keeps well, and it’s full of garlicky goodness.  This week, I decided it was time to share my love of hummus with you, so that you all can enjoy it as well.

Although I’m posting my basic hummus recipe, I actually switched this one up today and used tepary beans instead of garbanzos to keep it local for the Dark Days Challenge.  I served it with herbed, grilled focaccia (which I made using our CSA wheatberries and garden herbs) based on the recipe in Levy Beranbaum’s The Bread Bible and a fantastic, mostly local, reinvented Waldorf salad.  I’ll be posting the Waldorf recipe later this week.  Lunch was very satisfying: both light and hearty, sweet and salty, chewy and creamy and crunchy.  It was also healthy.

I love when that all comes together.


Darn Good Basic Hummus Recipe

My hummus recipe reflects my tastes: easy on the fat, high in flavor, and a moderate amount of tahini.  You may need to play to find your ideal mixture, but this is a mighty fine place to start.

Ingredients: (makes enough for a rip-roaring party or for a week of family hummus noshing)

3 cups cooked garbanzo beans with reserved bean juice (While I far prefer the flavor of beans I soak and cook myself, there’s no law against using canned beans.  If you are cooking them yourself, make sure they are soft enough to easily crush between your thumb and forefinger.  Either way, keep the cooking or canning liquid to use in the recipe.)

5-6 cloves of garlic, crushed with the flat of a knife and coarsely chopped

juice from 1-2 lemons, depending on your taste and the juiciness of said lemons

1/3 c unsalted tahini from roasted sesame seeds (you can find this in a Middle Eastern grocer, in health food stores, or in the health food or ethnic sections of many regular grocery stores in good-sized cities)

2-3 tsp fresh-ground cumin seeds (or cumin powder, if you must)

salt to taste (start with 3/4 tsp and go up from there, unless you’re using already-salted canned beans)

optional: 1-2 roasted red peppers (for red pepper hummus–my favorite, and very delicious)

paprika, extra virgin olive oil, and/or parsley to garnish

In a mighty strong blender or a food processor, place the garbanzo beans, garlic, lemon juice, and tahini.  (You may also add the roasted red pepper if you are using it, or you can add half of it and reserve half to add, chopped, to the finished hummus for visual and textural appeal.)  Add about 2/3 c of the reserved bean liquid.  Blend until smooth, adding more of the reserved liquid as necessary to save the motor on your blender from complete meltdown.  If you want it dippy, you may add more liquid, but if you want it as a sandwich spread, use less water unless you want your sandwich to goop out into your lap when you take a bite.  TIP: When I’m making a stiffer hummus, I find it’s best to make it when the beans are still pretty warm from being cooked.  It keeps the mixture moving well when blending, but it stiffens nicely when refrigerated later.  Also, do make sure it’s well-blended.  Chomping down on a fierce hunk of garlic that didn’t get blended tends to kill a lot of otherwise open-minded people’s appreciation for hummus.

Add the cumin and the salt, and blend again until thoroughly mixed.  Add more salt as needed, and adjust the lemon or tahini if necessary.  Scoop into a bowl or spread onto a plate, garnish, and enjoy!

Some serving suggestions:

  • spread on sandwiches or inside pita pockets and stuff with greens, cucumber, raw or roasted vegetables, and a drizzle of muhammara
  • dip raw veggies or warmed or toasted pita triangles into it
  • spread it on a pizza crust, top with roasted vegetables, bake, and serve as a vegan pizza

Tune in later this week to check out the recipe for my super-easy, reinvented broccoli Waldorf salad.  It’s a great side for hummus and focaccia.

Guten Apetit!


8 Comments so far

  1. Captain Mommy Pants February 1st, 2009 5:45 pm

    MMMmmmmmm – yum! yum! yum! One of my favorites! :)

  2. Mangochild February 2nd, 2009 2:53 am

    I could very well live off hummus and good bread. Lunch yesterday was about 3 whole wheat rolls with piles of black-bean hummus – the bread being only a vehicle to get the hummus to my mouth, lol! I make mine without the tahini though, somehow the taste of the tahini doesn’t mesh with the beans in my mind. Weird, I know. Your bread looks so good…. was it easy to make?

  3. Laurel February 2nd, 2009 1:03 pm

    It was very easy to make. The grilled focaccia requires next to no work, especially compared to the general expectations where fresh bread is concerned. I haven’t tried much from The Bread Bible, but I have generally liked what I tried. :) I can’t post the recipe, since it’s not mine, but check it out sometime! Your local library may even have it so you can give it a test run first.

  4. Mangochild February 3rd, 2009 2:29 am

    I will check if the library has it – I hope so, that looks *really* tasty!

  5. [...] South: Using tepary beans instead of garbanzos, Laurel made her darn good hummus this week. They enjoyed it with a bit of grilled focaccia on the side. I’m going to give her [...]

  6. Packin the Yummy Hummus « Ward House February 5th, 2009 1:25 pm

    [...] it is heaven and when not,  well, a friend once called it wet sawdust.  =)  I found this recipe for hummus at the Simple Spoonful and cannot wait to make some!  I actually have all the [...]

  7. [...] Drunken Goat Cheese, Brie, Chocolate, Chianti-infused salami, homemade Hummus using a variation of Laurel’s recipe, crackers, and pita slices.  Oh, and my cheap red [...]

  8. [...] make your own fine specimen, simply slather a whole-grain pita very generously with hummus (I used homemade roasted red pepper hummus), then stack with vegetables of your choice.  I sprinkled on thinly sliced onions, zucchini, [...]

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