hummus

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 closer

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.

Ingredients:
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)

Directions:
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.

Shanna Mallon started Food Loves Writing back in 2008, as a way to remember her grandma and write about her life through food. Since then it's become a place leading her to a lifestyle of eating whole foods, a new home in Nashville and the love of her life, Tim. Follow Shanna on Twitter @foodloves, keep up with Food Loves Writing on Facebook and stay inspired with the monthly newsletter.

This Post Has 18 Comments

  1. My First Kitchen

    I totally use canned chickpeas in mine. And I had a similar experience to your falafal guy except with hummus. I went to a little Jerusalem market, and I asked the guy if his hummus was good. His response? A slightly offended “It is the best!” Oops. And, umm, I think mine is better. At least to me. It’s almost against all things good to say that, but oh well. I do use tahini, but the man likes hummus, so we eat it quite a bit. Anyway, great post. It made me laugh and reminded me that I haven’t made hummus in a few months. Time to get crackin’. And I’m sorry about the wait at the post office. I waited to half an hour to find they wouldn’t ship my package at all because it was in a wine box even though there was no wine. DANG. IT.

  2. Lan

    i loooove hummus, it started off rocky but now, i just love it. i’ve made it once and really, it’s just so much easier to buy it already made.

    fyi, you can actually print out shipping labels from usps online. if your office has a mailman already dropping off and picking up mail, s/he’ll take packages too. ever since the holidays i’ve been printing out my own labels and i doubt i’ll ever walk into another post office during my lunch break again.

  3. The Duo Dishes

    It’s about the spice! Either cayenne, Tabasco or red chili powder in there. Really gives it ooomph! It’s probably more a spread than a dip? Hard to say. We like to dip stuff in it and slide it on sammies. :)

  4. Jennifer

    I totally love hummus. (I never thought about buttering the pita — mmm!)

    Having no tahini is fine by me — I had been reading so much about its health benefits that I bought a big, expensive jar of it. It did not taste very good — some flavor I can’t put my finger on was just not doin’ it for me. Plus, as you said, we don’t want to buy all that much just for the little that goes in the hummus.

    I’ll definitely try your recipe; it looks easy and delicious! I love it that it uses basic, normal ingredients.

    Kalamata olives, feta cheese, and tomatoes would be a lovely addition/garnish for this, by the way. A restaurant near me has the most awesome Mediterranean hummus using those toppings.

    Thank you for your blog. I really enjoy it.

  5. Kiet

    I recently had the pleasure of eating hummus at an office party, it was absolutely to die for and since I liked it so much I decided to make some for my family. The recipe calls for Tahini but the grocer I go to does not carry Tahini and so I used peanut butter as a substitute. It turn out to be quite good, so for those of you who are willing to experiment a bit, the next time you make hummus, try peanut butter as a substitute for Tahini. You will be amazed.

    Another similar spread is baba ganoush, has similar consistency and testure as hummus. There are many variations to making this delightful spread and I am sure if you google it, you’ll find the one recipe for you. Enjoy eating!

  6. Molly

    Good post. You reminded me why this almost ubiquitous spread is so delicious. We generally used canned beans for humuss, dried beans for falafel…I like the creamy texture that’s so hard to get with dried beans.

  7. Shannalee

    *One quick note to everyone: My hummus is lumpy, isn’t it? I think the pictures make it look that way, but honestly a little extra blending in the food processor or with a stick blender would knock that problem right out.

    OK, now that that’s out of the way –

    Kendra: Are you serious about the wine box? I wonder what would happen if someone had a regular box that did have wine in it and said it was something else random like glasses or china or something – that’d be fine? Ah, red tape.

    Lan: Clear something up for me – how do you weigh things? Like, if you do your stamping/whatever at home, how do you know how much it weighs? That is the ONE reason I never did it, so if you have a secret, I am so in. (And brilliant about using the work mail bin. I don’t know why I never thought of that!)

    TJ: I know! Roast garlic is AMAZING.

    Montague: You’re nice. Thanks for saying that!

    DD: I’m a little wary of spicy things, so I need to ease myself into more kicked-up versions. Small steps, right?

    Rachel: I went there one weekend in college – so random, especially since I never got to Disney! I remember the food was the best part.

    Jessica: I’d love to know what kind the homemade version you had was?

    Jennifer: How great would it be to make this in the summer and have fresh, sliced tomatoes on the side? You’re right – that sounds so good. And thanks for your nice compliment. You’re very kind.

    Kiet: Peanut butter? Really? How intriguing! I don’t know if I’ve ever tried baba ganoush before, but I’m interested. Thanks for the tip!

    Molly: Another kind encourager. Thank you for making me feeling a little better about the canned beans!

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  9. Lan

    i guess. i err on the side of caution and overpay probably. if you company has a stamper thing, a weight/scale is probably attached to it. i could use my company’s but i’m pretty lazy about walking over and weighing my package.

    i figure the extra i am paying in postage evens out in regards to the time and gas i am saving.

  10. Gemma

    Mmmm roast garlic…

    Houmous, baba ganoush, and tsatziki are the holy trinity of dips in our house. They are mostly bought (in my defence it is from a Turkish shop) and chickpeas are mostly (or always) canned. I’m just not organised enough for dried.

  11. Kiet

    Yes, peanut butter. Tahini is sesame paste, if you don’t already know and has about the same consistency as tahini and is something easily found in every household. The very reason I use peanut butter is so I don’t have to spend money buying a large jar of tahini for one or two dishes and the rest just sits for an indefinite amount of time, quite wasteful, really.

    As for the baba ganoush, it’s roasted Egg plant and garlic process into a spread. Most Baba Ganoush recipes call for Tahini, I use peanut butter as a Tahini substitute and instead of using fresh garlic, I roast mine. It is quite lovely. Enjoy cooking!

  12. Shannalee

    Lan – You know what I should do? Grab a bunch of those flat-rate boxes/envelopes to have on hand. Then I’d already know the rate. It’s still tricky with military stuff though because of customs forms, argh.

    Gemma – I love tsatziki. Like, love, love it.

    Kiet – I’m mentally adding baby ganoush to my list of things to try. Thanks for the tip!

    Belle – Oh, I’m so glad!

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