I wasn’t going to post this. I thought everyone had a favorite hummus recipe already and I would be talking into the wind. But my big brother, who I adore beyond all belief, asked me last weekend if I had a hummus recipe. He likes food as much as I do and I was surprised that he bought it pre-fab. But, there is really amazing pre-fab hummus these days. I particularly like the kind that Target carries, believe it or not. But fresh is soooooo much better. So, if you have never made your own hummus, get out your food processor and give it a shot. You can’t mess it up. It is cheap. And, it is healthful. AND, if you don’t eat hummus you should…it is a gateway food to all kinds of great Middle Eastern fare. As long as you know and appreciate hummus, you have a foothold in a great culture of food.
I have been trying to make decent hummus forever. I believe the first time I ever had hummus, it was in my husband’s family kitchen and his dad was whipping up a bowl of it. That would be Ford, the greatly missed namesake of my little Ford. Hummus had just never crossed my path in the 25 or so years before that day. Now I’m hooked.
Hummus shouldn’t be difficult. There are just not that many variables to tweak. But I tweaked and tweaked to no avail. It was maddening. Then, one sunny day, my next door neighbor, Linda, said, “oh there’s a secret.” And then the witch wouldn’t tell me what it was. Finally, about a year later she ‘fessed up. Yogurt. Plain yogurt. It is that simple. Immediately I set out to test this idea. I used Fage Greek 2% yogurt. It was great. Most recently, I made it again using Dannon’s Greek yogurt. Perfection. Of course, now I’ve looked at about a million hummus recipes and I see that many people have been using yogurt in hummus. I wish I had figured it out sooner. It adds a smoothness, and simply a new dimension to a dish that I thought I knew thoroughly.
Recently, after scouring my local grocery store for tahini paste with no success, I had to try another new plan. My patience for going to several grocery stores in one outing is limited not only by the unmitigated joy I feel when going to grocery stores with two children (are you feeling my sarcasm there) but also the fact that the temperature has finally gotten firmly above 100 around here. Fortunately I had a little baggy of fresh sesame seeds left over from another recipe. Since tahini is really just pureed sesame seeds in oil, I figured I’d give it a shot. I simply put about a tablespoon of the seeds in my mortar and smooshed them to death. Then I threw them in the food processor with my other ingredients and hoped for the best. Amazing! Totally fine substitution. I’ve heard of people using a little sesame oil instead of tahini, as well.
Going forward, I will generally buy tahini, but whenever I can’t, I will feel free to use the sesame seeds. I texted Linda and made her come over to taste the results. She gave me her thumbs up and I almost hopped up and down with glee. Linda doesn’t blow sunshine. She would have told me in no uncertain terms if it was lacking.
But, it has become apparent to me that hummus is intensely personal stuff and you will have to adjust things to your liking. It is also incredibly flexible and you should throw in any darn thing that floats your boat…perhaps roasted red peppers, for instance. I like it plain. I like it with a tiny bit of olive oil drizzled on top with a scattering of cayenne pepper for color.
1 cans garbanzo beans
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 Tablespoons tahini paste
2 cloves garlic, chopped
4 to 5 Tablespoons reserved juice from the garbanzo beans
3 heaping tablespoons plain yogurt
½ teaspoon cumin
Salt to taste
cayenne pepper to taste
Mince the garlic. Drain the liquid from the garbanzo beans into a small bowl and keep the liquid handy for later in the process. Add the beans and the garlic into the bowl of your food processor. Process with the metal blade until well combined. Make sure you open the processor at least once to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Add in the lemon juice, tahini, yogurt, cumin, and cayenne and continue to process. Add enough of the reserved juice (4 to 5 Tablespoons) to make the hummus smooth and consistency that you like. I like mine quite smooth. The yogurt really helps in this regard and gives it a silky texture that I never achieved without the yogurt.
Try this hummus with flatbread or warm pitas, or thick ciabatta style bread, or veggies, or put it on a sandwich as you would mayo. It is a really tasty and very healthful treat. I actually made flatbread to go with this and got to enjoy a new spice blend called Za’atar. If you really want to learn about a new and unique spice blend, you should try this. It has sumac (not the kind you are thinking of) and thyme and all sorts of other interesting goodies. It is utterly distinctive. I put a little olive oil on my flatbread and covered it in the Za’atar before baking it. I’ll post the flatbread one of these days, but in the meantime, you might buy some Za’atar and experience something new. I understand that there are a million ways to use it and now I know one of them. I want to learn more. If you use Za’atar, please share your uses with us. I’m kind of excited about it.