The Secret to Hummus

The Secret to Hummus

I love hummus. I love it on crackers, in a wrap, or on veggies. I''ll even eat it with a spoon from time to time.

I''ve always thought that I should be able to make hummus at home. After all, it''s really just mashed-up chickpeas, right? Sounds simple. But my hummus always came out sort of dry and gritty. The flavor was fine, but it didn''t have that smooth and creamy texture that I wanted. I was disappointed every time I made it... until now. I''ve finally figured it out!

I usually use canned chickpeas to make hummus, for convenience. I realized that most canned chickpeas are still pretty firm, so I tried simmering a can of chickpeas for a while until they were softer, and then used them in the hummus. Now I was getting somewhere! This was better, but still not quite the texture that I wanted. I added olive oil, a little at a time, until I got the consistency that I wanted. This was creamy, rich and good, but I felt like I had added an awful lot of oil (and therefore fat and calories) to what had been a very healthy recipe.

The next time I made hummus, I finally hit the right combination. I simmered the chickpeas as before, but saved the cooking water. When I pureed the hummus, I added in some of the bean cooking water little by little until the consistency was right. The result was flavorful and creamy hummus, just the way I like it. An added benefit of this method is that any nutrients which leach into the water while the beans are simmered are at least partially added back in with the cooking water. Here''s the recipe I ended up with. Enjoy!

Hummus

1 garlic clove, peeled

1 Tbsp. tahini

2 cups (1 can, more or less) cooked chickpeas, drained and rinsed (reserve the cooking water!)

ground cumin, minced fresh parsley, and lemon juice to taste

pinch cayenne pepper or red chile powder

Put everything in a food processor and blend until smooth. Add some of the reserved bean cooking water, little by little, until it''s creamy and thick.

Notes:

1. All of the seasonings are optional and can be varied to your taste.

2. Tahini is a paste of ground sesame seeds. It keeps for a very long time in the refrigerator, and can be left out of the recipe if you don''t have it.

3. As above, if you''re using canned chickpeas, simmer them until soft. Alternatively, start with dried chickpeas and cook them in a slow cooker until soft.

4. A food processor really seems to work best for this, but you can use a blender.

5. Hummus keeps really well in the freezer.

6. If you want to add more than one clove of garlic, I''d suggest roasting it first. With raw garlic, the flavor tends to tends to get more pronounced the next day so it is easy to overdo it. (Which isn''t necessarily a problem if everyone in your house is eating it!)

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