Foodie Files: Hummus

   I have been a lover of hummus for as long as I have been attending Iftaar dinners at the masjid (at least 15 years). Sadly, the masjid was the only place I could find decent hummus. Back in the day, store-bought hummus left a lot to be desired. The flavor was bland, and the texture was lumpy. At least that was the case until Sabra came along with its robust flavor and smooth texture. And hefty price. If you haven’t guessed by now, I’m super frugal when it comes to grocery spending. The meals we eat in my household are directly related to the current sales at Publix, and it will take an act of congress for that to change. 

I need my hummus fix, but can’t see spending $4 on that little bitty container of Sabra. Thankfully, my friend Maisoon makes a mean hummus, and wasn’t shy about sharing the recipe: 

2 29oz. cans of garbanzo beans (I used Goya)

¼ cup of tahini (sesame paste)

juice of 2 lemons

4 cloves of garlic

¼ cup of extra virgin olive oil

salt to taste 

1. Empty the cans of beans into a pot, liquid included. Add two cans full of water and simmer until the water is almost completely gone. Cool completely.

2. Sautee/brown the cloves of garlic in the olive oil.

3. Add all ingredients to a food processor, mix to desired consistency.

4. Enjoy! 

When cooking the beans, you will notice that the skin separates from the beans and floats to the top. It isn’t harmful, but feel free to scoop them out with a slotted spoon. I’ve heard people say that removing the skin improves the texture. Maisoon uses a Ninja blender to puree her hummus, which purees everything thoroughly and results in a nice, creamy hummus. My cheap food processor requires a bit more effort, but less so when I scoop the skin out.

The amount of garlic you add really depends on your preference. 4 cloves is listed as a guideline, but I tend to go heavy on the garlic. Browning it in the olive oil makes it much less pungent. You could probably roast it in the oven as well, but be sure you still add that olive oil to the mixture. Olive oil is a must for a good batch of hummus.

Please note that bottled lemon juice is by no means an acceptable substitute for juice from fresh lemons. About a year ago, there was a lemon shortage and I couldn’t find them anywhere in stores. I used bottled lemon juice instead, and ended up tossing the entire batch of hummus because no one would touch it.

As for the salt, I normally add about a teaspoon. You really don’t need much, since the beans are already salted.

Also, you can be really flexible with hummus. Add some roasted red peppers, basil pesto, or any other extras that appeal to your taste buds. I prefer mine plain, but I won’t turn my nose up at hummus with chopped olives sprinkled on top.

My kids love hummus, and it’s one of the few ways I can get Little Linebacker excited about veggies. On nights that my mother in law volunteers to keep the kids, I am perfectly happy with hummus and veggies for dinner. We used to be content eating it with celery, carrots and pretzels, but I’ve recently started expanding my choices to include veggies I normally pass over in the produce section. Check the produce section at your grocery store, and don’t shy away from those sugar snap peas. I hope you love this recipe as much as I do!

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