In my opinion, hummus is the perfect food. It’s dairy free, gluten free, vegetarian, vegan, and delicious. It can be eaten with pita, vegetables, or perhaps just your hands. Hummus can be infinitely customized. I’ll start a batch planning to make one kind and by the end I’ve decided on another. The key with hummus is to prepare a great base recipe, and from there to customize based on your preferences, your applications, and your guests. Today I’m sharing my base recipe with you! Why you ask? I’m tired of hearing of all the hummus recalls! Sabra and Trader Joe’s (two MAJOR hummus brands) have recently recalled their hummus due to possible listeria contamination.
Making your own hummus is one of the easiest things so long as you have the right tools. The most important tool in my arsenal is my Cuisinart. The more I make hummus though, the more I’m convinced that one could make things work with a hand blender or a Nutri-Bullet Bullet-type blending instrument as well. When you finish the recipe, the hummus is going to seem a little bit loose, but it will firm up nicely in the fridge. ALL great hummus needs at least 30 minutes in the fridge before you serve it. This brings me to the foundational rules of hummus:
- Always boil the chickpeas. It makes for smoother product! Whether you are making hummus with dried or canned chickpeas, they naturally have a soft shell on them that causes a bit of a chalky taste to the final product. This is fairly easily remedied by boiling the chickpeas in water with a few teaspoons of baking soda, which helps breakdown the shells–then I usually just throw the chickpeas in my strainer and hit them with a cold jet of water and that tends to blast the remainders off. See all the things on the edges of the chickpeas in the picture below? Those are skins! Pick out the chickpeas and transfer to your food processor. Don’t worry if you transfer a few of the shells in the process. Even eliminating half of them makes a huge difference in the texture.
- Taste as you go. While I can never stress this enough when cooking, it’s important as you learn what flavors you like in hummus to understand how you get to the final product. I usually will taste mine at a minimum of 3 points during the process.
- After blending in the tahini–this is because different brands of tahini have different flavors. Some taste a bit like peanut butter, and others will almost taste scorched or burned. Play with a few different brands–my current favorite by Kevala I find via Amazon, but in a pinch, I personally think that Whole Foods’ 365 Brand does just fine (be sure to refrigerate your tahini after opening it!).
- After the salt–you’re hopefully seasoning to your tastes, which means you add in things little by little until you’re happy with the balance of flavors. Salt will either accentuate that or make you pucker and overpower your product. Sometimes, this can be salvaged with adding more tahini and lemon.
- After the water–I personally add water as the final step, so I must do a final taste to make sure that the flavors, while having mellowed slightly, have not been thrown out of balance.
- Always refrigerate before serving! The hummus needs a chance to marry with the flavors and firm up a bit, I vote for at least 30 minutes to an hour of fridge time before serving.
- Experiment wildly. Hummus is a blank canvas ready for your paint. While I have a special place in my heart for a traditional roasted garlic hummus, I have yet to try a combination I didn’t like. An important factor is to think of flavors and how they interact with some of the key ingredients (think lemon and tahini), then go from there. Still worried about where to get started? I’ll throw some ideas at the bottom of this post.
- 1 16 oz can Chickpeas
- 1 T Baking soda
- 1/4 c Extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 c Tahini
- 1/2 t Cumin
- 1 t Salt
- Pepper to taste
- Seasonal option (see below)
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 2 T Water
- Food processor (as small as a 3 cup food processor works well)
- Fine mesh strainer
- Small (3 qt) pot for boiling
- Small sauce pan
As mentioned above, first boil the chickpeas in water (about 4 cups) on the stove with the baking soda over medium heat. Once brought to a boil, bring to a rolling simmer for 20 minutes. Keep an eye on things as it will have a tendency to want to boil over. Once time is up, remove from heat and run through the mesh strainer, following up quickly with a cold spray of water until you notice the shells starting to break free of the chickpeas. You may have to do the rest of the separating by hand, which shouldn’t take more than about 4-5 minutes. Dispose of the skins, and transfer the chickpeas to the food processor to rest. Meanwhile, work on flavors–I’m going to stick with my favorite classic, roasted garlic, for now, but you can substitute in anything from shallots, to fresh herbs (I’m partial to rosemary or thyme), or simply skip the additional flavoring if you’re cooking for a picky crowd.
If you’ve chosen to go the flavor route, combine olive oil and garlic (whole but void of skin) over medium-low heat and cook until garlic is browned slightly on both sides and the kitchen has the aroma of roasted garlic (about 8 minutes). Turn off the heat, allowing to cool slightly, and then combine with the chickpeas in the processor. Pulse 3-4 times.
Add in the remaining ingredients except the water, and blend thoroughly. Add water, and blend for a few seconds, then taste and amend the flavors if necessary. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Serve cool adorned with your favorite spices and some additional olive oil (pictured: cayenne, za’atar, olive oil).
This recipe will serve a group of 6 as a dip and will store in the fridge for up to a week.
Winning Flavor Combinations
- Roasted garlic and thyme
- Roasted shallot
- Fire-roasted peppers and garlic
- Jalapeño (diced, lightly cooked) and cilantro
- Sun-dried tomatoes
- Spinach (lightly cooked) and feta
- Roasted carrots and cumin
- Roasted garlic and rosemary