Got a Hankering for Hummus?
Blame it on my great grandmother from Lebanon, but I grew up devouring hummus. I love it with pita bread, on sandwiches, and even with vegetables (when forced). Back in the 70s and 80s, hummus was about as exotic as you could get, so imagine my joy when I finally saw hummus being marketed in grocery stores. However, my joy immediately turned to horror as I noticed the price! WHAT? For hummus? I am here to tell you that not only is hummus incredibly simple and inexpensive to make, but it is also a very versatile and a healthy staple to have on hand.
First, some basics. When I was growing up, there were really only five ingredients in hummus (chickpeas, salt, olive oil, lemon, and tahini, which is sesame seed paste). Nowadays, you can find recipes with all sorts of roasted vegetables and flavorings, which is totally awesome (and healthy and yummy). But for our purposes, and to keep it simple, here is a base recipe for hummus. And believe me, once you make it, you are going to think, “Is that all?”
Extra Easy Hummus - 4 servings
- 1 (15 ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained (reserve the liquid; this is key)
- 1 clove garlic, crushed (although I always use at least 2)
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin (if you aren’t a fan, you can halve this)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- Lemon juice (I always add at least a few teaspoons)
Note: You may notice that I’m missing a key ingredient, tahini. Tahini can be a barrier for some cooks. It’s expensive and sometimes can only be found at specialty stores. It also has a consistency that can be difficult to work with (think really dried up natural peanut butter that needs to be mixed). For someone like me with a sesame allergy, I just cannot consume it, so I now omit it from my hummus recipes, with no noticeable loss of flavor. If you miss the taste of tahini, you can add a little in and use more of the chickpea liquid reserve, or you can use sesame oil instead of olive oil.
Place drained chickpeas in a blender, food processor, or large bowl (if you are using an immersion blender, as I do)
- Add garlic, cumin, salt, and olive oil.
- Blend on low speed, gradually adding the lemon juice and reserved chickpea liquid until the desired consistency is achieved.
- Pour into a serving bowl and garnish with parsley and olive oil (very traditional), a little paprika, whatever you’d like, or nothing at all!
If you are looking for ways to introduce hummus to your family, think of it as a healthy peanut butter type food, meaning it can be part of a snack or side or the main protein. You can serve it as an after-school snack with cut-up vegetables (cucumbers, carrots, etc.), or as a side or first course (with those same cut-up vegetables, or cut-up pita bread). It can also be smeared between two slices of regular bread, pita bread, or a wrap, with or without vegetables and/or chicken on top.
However you decide to eat your hummus, I hope you and your family enjoy it and all the nutritional benefits it brings!
– Tanya Runci, BA, MA, ADE, NBC-HWC