Hummus is touted in the current Mail Tribune food section as a health-savvy and satisfying snack for kids, as well as adults.
Indeed, Charlotte Observer writer Kathleen Purvis called it “the Middle East’s answer to peanut butter.” But whereas peanut butter is a sticky issue in some schools, hummus has a lower allergen risk and is readily adapted with alternate ingredients. The additions of vegetables and fruits, such as the beets and avocados suggested in this week’s story, even raise the nutritional profile of hummus.
The profile of hummus itself is on the rise. In 2006, the dish ubiquitous in so many countries was found in only 12 percent of American households. That’s now up to 20 percent and growing fast, according to the Observer.
But how to make hummus at home that’s as creamy as a Lebanese deli’s? Save the liquid from the can of chickpeas and add it to the hummus while it’s pureeing in the food processor. The Raleigh News & Observer goes one step further and advises pureeing the hummus longer than you think is necessary, for at least five minutes. Its recipe is posted below.
Of course, the creamiest hummus ever made in my own kitchen was the handiwork of my dear friend, a frequent traveler to the Middle East. She insists on peeling the membrane from each and every chickpea, a laborious process that does remove some of the legume’s fiber but certainly makes for a silky spread.
It’s even better served with the Middle East’s iconic spices: za’atar and sumac. My friend brought me a stash from her last trip. Although I’m keeping them viable in the freezer, I’m looking forward to spices from her next adventure.
Until then, I’ll be using this classic recipe, delicious no matter where in the world it’s eaten.
1 (15 1/2-ounce) can chickpeas
4 garlic cloves, peeled
3 tablespoons tahini
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (a little more than 1 lemon)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for optional garnish
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
Greek olives, for garnish (optional)
Toasted pine nuts, for garnish (optional)
Pita chips or pita bread, for serving.
Set colander over a bowl. Drain the chickpeas into colander. Set aside chickpeas and liquid separately.
Puree the garlic in bowl of a food processor, then add drained chickpeas, the tahini, cumin, salt, lemon juice, oil and crushed red pepper and puree again. Let processor run for 3 to 5 minutes, adding 1/4 cup at a time of reserved chickpea liquid until desired consistency is reached. (You may use entire amount of reserved chickpea liquid.)
Serve with the optional garnishes, if desired, and the pita chips or pita bread.
Makes 12 servings.
Recipe from “Aromas of Aleppo: The Legendary Cuisine of Syrian Jews,” by Poopa Dweck (Ecco, 2007).