I don’t want to sugarcoat this for you, so I’m just going to say it: I am not a patient person. Some of you are, I bet. You’re the ones who wait in line at the post office, on your half-hour lunch break, with a package you’re mailing to your military friend, and when the clerk charges your credit card but doesn’t (!) stamp (!) your package (!) so that, days later, it gets sent back to you, you go right back to the post office with a smile on your face, explaining the situation while you wait for 20 minutes again to get the OK to mail the letter you already paid for.
I want to be best friends with you people like that. Or at least, I want to be patient like you. (And I want it RIGHT NOW.) This is a slow journey, you can tell.
One redeeming factor—if you can call it that—is what impatience does for my eating habits. Like this weekend, I had hummus.
I don’t remember the first time I had hummus, but I can almost guarantee I didn’t like it, not right away. Hummus is different than other appetizer-like spreads. It’s not dairy-based like cream cheese or sour cream, and it’s not exactly a dip, per se. You don’t stick potato chips in it—well, you could, I guess, in the way that you could stick sesame sticks in chocolate pudding (not that anyone here does that, ahem) but you probably wouldn’t.
Hummus stems from the Middle East, and it’s the kind of thing you’re sure to find at hookah bars and specialty grocers or, if I remember right, that tiny Arabic kebab place I stopped one time and the owner gave me free falafel, just because I told him I’d had it before, and he said his would be better. [It wasn’t, and I haven’t wanted falafel since.] Actually, today, you can find hummus just about anywhere, even your local grocery store, at least if it’s anything like mine. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been seeing and hearing about it in so many places that, I kid you not, Friday night I rushed straight from the office to the store, in search of a can of chickpeas.
Two things about canned chickpeas before we go any further: 1) Apparently, there are people who will say you are committing hummus sacrilege when you use canned chickpeas instead of dried. If you are one such person, I promise, I am not out to ruin the hummus experience for myself, or anyone reading for that matter. And if you’re inviting me over for your version, why, I’d love to, thank you. Name the time.
2) Chickpeas are garbanzo beans. Garbanzo beans are chickpeas. (Very technically, garbanzo beans are larger, chickpeas are smaller, but here in the U.S., the terms are used interchangeably.) This was something I did not know.
What I did already know about hummus, at least since whenever I’d tried it first, is its defining characteristic: texture. Creamy and thick, it’s stable enough to hold its shape when you dollop a chunk onto your spoon, like mortar spread on bricks, I think—smooth and lumpy, sturdy and substantial. I like it best slathered on hot, buttered pitas, its cool paste-like consistency dissolving on my tongue.
This particular recipe caught my eye because it doesn’t use tahini (Purists! Don’t leave! Even without tahini, hummus can be good!), and I didn’t want to buy a whole bottle of tahini for just one recipe. Also, this is garlic hummus, and I am a firm believer that most foods are improved with a little garlic thrown in.
The introduction for this recipe online said it’s perfect for people who’ve never had hummus, an ideal introduction, you might say.
I’d add it’s also an ideal way to get reacquainted, a happy reunion for someone who’s been busy running errands or running those errands again—or, you know, something like that.
Roasted Garlic Hummus
Adapted from Saad Fayed, About.com
Roasting garlic is my favorite part of this whole recipe: Take a head of garlic, chop off the top third, and wrap the rest in aluminum foil. Bake at 400 degrees for about 35 minutes. The smell is intoxicating—you may not want to leave your kitchen, ever.
Oh and also: Personally, I like cold hummus, but if you like yours hot, by all means give it a quick pop in the microwave or the stove at the end.
1 can chickpeas/garbanzo beans (15 ounces)
2 tablespoons roasted garlic
1/2 Tablespoon lemon juice
2 Tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon oregano
(Salt, if desired)
In a food processor*, process beans, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice and oregano until desired consistency. If hummus is too thick, simply add olive oil in small increments (1/2 teaspoon) until desired consistency. Season to taste.
*Who needs a food processor when you have a stick blender? Kelley, if you’re reading this, I owe you again on this one. The stick blender has opened up a whole new, easy-to-clean world of smoothies, soups and now, hummus.