How do I love thee, hummus? Let me count the ways.
Chickpeas. Tahini. Lemon. Garlic. Olive Oil. Cumin. Chiles. And that’s just the beginning of a long list.
Hummus is a thick Middle Eastern sauce or dip of pureed or mashed chickpeas flavored with lemon juice, garlic and olive oil or sesame-seed paste (tahini). When tahini is used, it technically becomes hummus bi tahini.
This dip from the Middle East is now ubiquitous in American restaurants, supermarkets and homes.
Tahini hummus is the kind that most Americans know. But as with any adopted food, we soon adapted it to suit our needs and wants. Now you can find dozens of types of hummus.
I’m a bit old-fashioned in that I want chickpeas, tahini and lemon in my tahini. In my mind, when you take away one of those three essential ingredients, it’s just another dip.
That said, I do enjoy playing around with different flavors and additions to hummus.
I almost always include garlic and cumin, two traditional ingredients, in my hummus.
But some of the other fun additions to hummus can include:
- Pine nuts
- Roasted red peppers
- Feta cheese
- Chopped artichoke hearts
- Chopped kalamata olives
- Sun-dried or oven-roasted tomatoes
- Diced chiles, such as jalapeño
Some people mix raw spinach leaves into hummus. I’ve seen people add diced avocado in addition to or in place of the tahini.
If you want to venture beyond the confines of standard hummus, you could try black beans in place of chickpeas, or orange juice in place of lemon.
Oh, and if you don’t have tahini, you can add toasted sesame seeds and turn them into a paste as you puree the hummus.
Add a little plain Green yogurt for creaminess and extra tang.
Roasted vegetables are good in hummus, too — beets and carrots being two prime examples.
If you can find some good-quality canned chickpeas, by all means use them for hummus. But great hummus comes from freshly cooked chickpeas.
Fortunately, the most popular kitchen appliance of the last 10 years — the Instant Pot — is great at cooking dried chickpeas from scratch with little effort. You don’t even need to soak them first.
If you don’t have an Instant Pot, a slow cooker is the next best thing, and even a pot on the stove works fine — provided you cook them very slowly in enough water.
Be sure to cook chickpeas for hummus until thoroughly soft, so as to facilitate a smooth puree. Also, thoroughly cooked chickpeas more easily shed their outer skins. These skins are completely edible, but if you want to go the extra mile for hummus with a lighter color and texture, try removing and discarding as many of the skins as you can. You can loosen the skins by gently rubbing them between your hands or two parts of a clean dish cloth. You also can use a food mill to press the meat of the chickpeas while catching the skins. If you don’t have a food mill, you will have to pick out the skins one by one. It’s a tedious business, but worth it if you can stand it.
Once you have cooked chickpeas, hummus comes together in just a few minutes in a food processor.
The proportion of chickpeas, tahini and lemon juice is negotiable — it can be varied to personal taste. Most recipes call for about ¼ cup each lemon juice and tahini to each 1½ cups of cooked chickpeas, along with smaller amounts of garlic, salt and olive oil — don’t skip the latter, as the oil helps adds a silky finish to the hummus.
For garnish, hummus often gets a drizzle of additional olive oil and often a sprinkle of hot paprika, ground red pepper or ground cumin.