Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Scratch That...Hummus.

There are a few things that I've been making from scratch for as long as I can remember...okay, two things: bread, and hummus. It's no coincidence that they go REALLY well together.

If your family is like our family than the tiny little $5 a pop hummus tubs that they sell in the grocery store are a joke to you. We could finish off one of those in about 10 minutes and look around for the next one. Plus, Five Bucks? For Hummus? Are you kidding me? It's bean paste for Goddess' sake. Then you can go on to the other reasons to make your own: the store stuff is slimey, and they fill it full of weird crap (sundried tomatoes? seriously?).

To make hummus you need:

A good blender or food processor. I specify good blender because this is a pretty thick paste and it stresses the motor on the lesser models. I have personally burned out the motor on two $30 blenders making hummus.

Chick peas, also known as Garbanzo Beans (which always makes me think of Gonzo from the Muppet Show). We favor "La Preferida" brand, which is frequently shelved in the "Mexican" section. It comes in big fat 29oz cans which makes a decent sized batch.

Tahini. This could possibly fall into the realm of "special ingredient requiring a separate trip to the grocery store" if you have a slightly less exotic pantry than I do. It's also the most expensive ingredient in the recipe, at about $6 a jar. If you happen to live in a neighborhood with a Middle Eastern grocery store, buy it there because it'll be cheaper, and come in a bigger jar. It doesn't spoil quickly as long as it's refrigerated, so even if you don't use it that often, you won't lose out on your investment. Tahini is a seed butter, so when you buy it it will have about half an inch of separated oil on top, like natural style peanut butter. When I first open a jar I pour the entire contents into the food processor or blender to remix it, and then pour it back in to the jar. If you refrigerate it after that the oil will emulsify in the fridge and it shouldn't separate back out (if it isn't so throughly mix it will tend to separate). You don't even have to clean the blender, you just make a batch of hummus right on top of the tahini dregs.

Garlic.

Lemon Juice.

Olive Oil.

I sometimes add a dash of toasted sesame oil to punch up the sesame flavor. If you stir fry you probably have this.

Notice I don't have measurements on any of this stuff. That's because I am too lazy to measure. This is very much "to taste" and you can easily adjust things as you go.

So...go get all that stuff. Then:

Drain the chick peas, and throughly rinse them under cool running water. I rinse all canned beans, and (although I haven't done a side by side comparison) I firmly believe that it cuts down on "wind" the next day. Let that sit in the sink and drain for a minute while you peel the garlic, one clove, two if you're brave, three if you don't have any friends and don't want any.

Add the garlic, about a tablespoon of olive oil, two or three tablespoons of tahini and two or three tablespoons of lemon juice to your blender and give it a good chopping. When there are no more big chunks of garlic add about half your chick peas. Adding them all at once clogs the blender. If the paste is too thick to blend, add water until it's thin enough to blend smoothly. This is a good time to do an initial taste test. I almost always add more tahini and more lemon juice at this point (and if you want a roasty toasty tasting hummus, a dash of toasted sesame oil is delicious...I think, although their are puritans in my household who do not agree). Then throw in the rest of the chick peas and (if you need to) more water to thin it out. If you are making hummus in a blender it will be a little thinner, in a food processor chunkier and thicker...personal preference as to which you like better. When you like the consistancy, then you can salt to taste and (if you must) add any junk you want, like chives or bacon bits or whatever the hell they put in those store tubs of hummus.

I don't add very much olive oil. I think a bit is great to improve the texture, but why add more oil than you have to? If you like really creamy hummus then you can, of course, add more oil.

I estimate this recipe to cost about $2.80 or so. $1.50 of that is the chick peas (so if you are a "boil your own from dry" kind of person the cost would be much less), and I'm (over) estimating a $1 worth of tahini, with about $.30 worth of pantry staples. If you use the big can of chick peas you'll end up with a tub of Hummus that is about two or three times bigger than the slimey stuff in the deli case, and the whole process takes about 15 minutes. This used to be my potluck staple, along with a store bought bag of pita chips, but I was at a pot luck last year where half the people brought hummus and the other half brought brownies...a good potluck in my opinion!

Ragnar...mmmmm...Garbanzo-licious.

PS If any of you have hummus making tips or favorite add ins (blech!) please comment! Just don't suggest that I peel the garbanzo beans because that's just flat out not happening.

1 comment:

Maime Bones said...

I have made walnuts with roasted walnuts before (delish) and by substituting the olive oil with roasted sesame seed oil (yum). i like to put sumac on top (its a salty/sweet marron spice that can be found at aladdin's, by me for free if you're interested!)