Tuesday, April 10, 2012

How to Make Better Hummus (from Ruth Reichl)

 I love hummus, and make it often for casual parties when I'm asked to bring something.  (That or my famous all-green tomato-free FAQ safe guacamole.)  This way you provide ultimate yummies for others, and whether asked or not, can show that #foodallergy safe food does not have to be bland or boring. Win win!

Here are some tips from Ruth Reichl (editor of Gourmet magazine) to make a simple dish even better, but I'm warning you now it will take a little patience.  I'll try some or all these techniques next time... 

If you can't find dried garbanzo beans in your grocery store, you can find them in health food stores, Middle Eastern or Indian markets, usually at a better price since too.

I of course skip the garlic and use either a tart vinegar to replace the lemon juice. Also, I've learned from Claudia Roden's Book of Middle Eastern Food that another uniquely delicious and lovely addition is pomegranate molasses. Available in Middle Eastern and some health food stores.

Here's the link to all the tips, just the recipe is below.



1½ cups dried chickpeas
1 tablespoon baking soda plus ¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ to ½ cup raw (as opposed to roasted) tahini
1 lemon, juiced
1-2 garlic cloves
salt, to taste
olive oil, to taste
parsley, to taste
cumin, to taste
1. Put the chickpeas in a colander and go through them carefully, discarding small stones and broken peas.
2. Wash the chickpeas, and put them in a bowl with enough water to allow them to double in volume. Stir in a tablespoon of baking soda and soak them overnight.
3. Drain and rinse the chickpeas and put them in a large pot. Cover with about 5 cups of water (the water should be about 2 inches above the beans) and add the remaining ¼ teaspoon of baking soda. Bring the water to a boil, turn the heat down, cover, and cook over low heat until the chickpeas are very soft; it should take about two hours. If the water cooks away, add more. Drain, but reserve the cooking liquid.
4. Rub the chickpeas between your fingers under cold running water to remove the skins. Put on some music; it’s a time-consuming process.
5. The chickpeas should be cool now. Put them in a food processor with the garlic, and lemon juice, a quarter cup of the cooking liquid and the tahini. (How much you use will depend on your taste; traditionally you’d use about half a cup, but I find that makes the sesame flavor too dominant for my taste.) Process for 4 or 5 minutes, until it is smooth and creamy, with the dreamy texture of just-made frozen custard. It should be very soft and smooth. If it’s too thick add more liquid. Add salt to taste.
Now’s the fun part. You have just created a lovely canvas. Top it with a glug of good olive oil, some chopped parsley, a smattering of ground cumin. Or toast some pinenuts in butter and top the hummus with that. Add cayenne, zatar, chopped onions or some pomegranate seeds. Be creative, or just revel in the best hummus you’ve ever had on its own.

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