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Hummus Perfection - Vegetarian Times

Hummus Perfection

Discover the secret to great homemade hummus from an artist who learned it from the Bedouins
Hummus Perfection

Known as the poor man's food in the Middle East, hummus is a deliciously versatile dish. It can be eaten as a snack or with any meal of the day (in Israel, it's even served for breakfast). A nomadic Bedouin tribe taught me the recipe for Classic Hummus when I worked in the Sinai Desert. Their secret was to cook the chickpeas to a very soft consistency so they could be easily ground with a mortar and pestle. I've adapted the recipe for a food processor. Another thing I learned from the Bedouins is that hummus is best made with warm chickpeas—the heat helps cut the garlic's acidity. I make Classic Hummus about twice a week for my family. It's an easy and delicious way to add protein to our diet and keep us feeling satisfied between meals.

What You'll Need

dried chickpeas

baking soda, optional

tahini (sesame paste)

garlic

lemon juice

large saucepan or stockpot

food processor

Start with chickpeas cooked from scratch
For hummus with unbeatable flavor and texture, soak and cook the chickpeas yourself. All you need is 1 pound of dried chickpeas and, if you don't mind losing a few nutrients in exchange for supersmooth texture, 1 teaspoon of baking soda. This recipe makes 6 cups of cooked chickpeas, which might sound like a lot, but keep in mind that leftovers freeze nicely in a zip-top freezer bag.

1. Pour 1 lb. dried chickpeas on flat surface, and pick through to remove any stones or broken chickpeas.

2. Rinse and drain chickpeas. Place in large bowl with 10 cups water; let soak 8 hours, or overnight.

3. Drain soaked chickpeas, then rinse and drain again, and place chickpeas in large pot with 10 cups water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, partially cover, and simmer 90 minutes, stirring in 1 tsp. baking soda, if using, after the first hour. Remove from heat, cover pot, and let stand 30 minutes. Skim off any chickpeas that have floated to top. Drain well.

Classic, with a Twist
Hummus can be doctored up with the following flavorings, which get added during the last minute of blending time, then garnished with toppings.

Parsley Hummus Blend in 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and Za'atar.

Sun-dried Tomato Hummus Blend in 1/4 cup sun-dried tomato pesto. Top with olive oil, chopped olives, and smoked paprika.

Roasted Pepper Hummus Blend in 3/4 cup roasted red peppers. Garnish with smoked paprika and chopped parsley.

Spicy Hummus Blend in 1 Tbs. harissa (or 1 tsp. cayenne pepper mixed with 2 tsp. olive oil and 1/2 tsp. minced garlic). Garnish with 2 Tbs. olive oil, 1/4 tsp. smoked paprika, and dash of chopped parsley.

Green Chile and Cilantro Hummus Blend in 3 to 5 Tbs. canned fire-roasted green chiles and 1/3 cup chopped cilantro. Garnish with olive oil, chopped green chiles, and chopped cilantro.