Hummus is one of those dishes that is wonderfully versatile. It can be served traditionally as a dip with soft pita bread or you can serve it as a dip with crudité, crackers, tortilla or potato chips. It also makes a great sandwich spread, replacing the fat laden mayonnaise. I’ve used it in place of tzatziki on gyros and even served it as a side dish with kabobs. If you have kids who don’t care for the texture of legumes, hummus is a great way of sneaking some variety into their diets.
Nutritionally, hummus has a lot to offer. It’s high in iron, vitamin C, folate, and vitamin B. It’s also loaded with protein and fiber. The tahini, (a paste made from sesame seeds) which is used in traditional hummus recipes, is a source of an important amino acid called methionine. Studies suggest that methionine may increase life expectancies, prevent colan cancer, and decrease age related illnesses.
Hummus is usually made from chick peas (aka garbanzo beans) but I have made it from a variety of left over dried beans. The flavor and texture may be a little different but it’s always delicious I like to mix it up a bit by adding different spices, herbs, and vegetables to my hummus. Some suggestions include: finely minced sundried tomatoes and basil pesto; pine nuts and roughly chopped roasted red peppers; thinly sliced fresh chili peppers and cilantro; mashed roasted garlic cloves and gramam masala; finely chiffonade sage and chopped walnuts; diced grilled eggplant and fresh tomatoes; finely minced hard boiled egg and kalamata olives.
Here’s a basic recipe to get you started. It’s so simple because you just throw everything into your food processor or blender and let it go until it’s smooth.
Juice of 1 large lemon
1/4 cup (59 ml) tahini (you can use less or omit altogether if you’re not a fan)
One 15-ounce can chickpeas/garbanzo beans, drained (or any other bean you want to try)
1 large garlic clove, finely minced
¼ cup good quality extra virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
Kosher salt to taste
Start with the juice & tahini. Process until well blended. Add the beans, garlic, olive oil, and salt. Blend until very smooth, scraping down the sides a couple of times. Taste and adjust your seasonings. If you are going to add any garnishes, stir in, then scrape into a serving bowl. Top with a swirl olive oil and whatever other spice or topping you would like to add to make it pretty and serve.
Hummus will keep for a couple of weeks or so if you will flatten the top and drizzle enough olive oil to fully cover. Then just refrigerate. Before serving, stir the olive oil into the hummus and you’re off.