Last night I went to a potluck and I have to admit, I was dreading it a little.
It’s not that I don’t love my friends or cooking for them, but I have been feeling queasy this week (I contracted some nasty food poisoning on my vacation–that’s what I get for not cooking my own meals!) and have not had much energy for anything, especially food.
But I have a food blog. Not only did I have to bring something, it had to be impressive!
I needed something quick, easy and delicious, made mostly from ingredients I have laying around. Hummus was my answer. Hummus is a Middle Eastern style dip made of chickpeas. Remember all that talk about how easy and delicious homemade beans are in the pressure cooker? Well chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans) are no exception.
Hummus is a perfect potluck contribution because it is easy to make, easy to transport and exotic enough to be impressive. Also, homemade hummus is way better (tasting, but also for you) than anything you can buy at the store… no offense to Trader Joe’s.
You can make the basic recipe with beans, tahini, garlic and spices, but I have added a couple extra ingredients if you want to take your hummus to the next level.
- 1 cup dried chickpeas
- 2 cloves of garlic
- tahini to taste
- 1 Meyer lemon
- 1/2 tsp paprika (gourmet paprika or fresh ground sweet chili powder is best)
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (or more if you’re feeling spunky – optional)
- pure olive oil or canola oil
- good quality extra virgin olive oil
- sea salt to taste
- preserved lemon (optional)
- parsley (optional)
I always have tahini in my fridge, but if you do not it is fairly easy to find. Tahini is a paste made out of sesame seeds with a consistency similar to natural peanut butter (the oily kind). It has a delicious smokey flavor and I use it to garnish many different dishes.
Olive oil is a key ingredient in this recipe, but it is important to understand that you cannot put extra virgin olive oil into a blender, or it will turn unpleasantly bitter. Use either pure olive oil or canola oil for blending, then add a good extra virgin olive oil on top as a garnish. Your extra virgin olive oil should have a bright green color, not a dull yellow or brown.
You can use canned beans if you are in a pinch, but I don’t recommend it.
Here’s what to do:
Pick over, rinse and soak the dry chickpeas overnight in excess water (they expand quite a bit). The next day rinse them again, put them in a pressure cooker and cook on high until done (mine works in 12 minutes). Once they are cooked, use a slotted spoon to move chickpeas from the liquid into a large bowl. Reserve the liquid. Throw out any chickpea shells that have separated from the bean.
If you do not have a pressure cooker, you can boil the chickpeas until they are soft, about an hour and a half. Add more water if necessary.
While the beans are cooking place whole, unpeeled garlic cloves into a toaster oven and bake at 400 for 3-5 minutes (I like them less cooked). Let them cool a bit then remove the peel, which should come off easily.
Add the garlic to your beans (mince it if you prefer to add it raw), along with 1/2 cup (or whatever) of the liquid they cooked in, 2 tbsp pure olive oil, 1/2 tsp of salt and lemon juice to taste (I use the whole thing).
Also add 2-3 tbsp of tahini (honestly I eyeball it and keep adding tahini until I’m happy with the taste) and the other spices. I recently purchased some amazing New Mexico chili powder from Tierra Vegetables and a few slices of preserved lemon from Boulette’s Larder that added incredible dimension to this already wonderful recipe. I am particularly impressed with the preserved lemon, which contributed a unique, rich lemon flavor unlike anything I have ever tasted.
David Lebovitz claims that making your own preserved lemons is not very difficult if you want to try. Rinse the lemons before adding them to your recipe, I added 5-6 slices.
Blend the ingredients together using a hand blender. If you do not have a hand blender you can use a regular blender or food processor. They work the same but are harder to clean.
Puree the mix until smooth, adding more liquid if necessary. Once the hummus is creamy, taste it with a clean spoon and adjust the salt, lemon and tahini.
When finished, move hummus to a tupper (for potluck) or serving bowl. Use a spoon to make a crater in the center, garnish with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with paprika and chopped parsley. California extra virgin olive oil is the best choice, in my opinion, and Trader Joe’s has a great one that is affordable. In San Francisco, however, I like to use Stonehouse olive oil. They have a store at the Ferry Building.
Serve with warm pita wedges or bread.
Hummus can be modified in a million different ways. It is fantastic with roasted peppers, eggplant, sun-dried tomatoes, herbs and different kinds of nuts.