/> a mother's heart » Blog Archive » tasty tuesday: homemade hummus

One of my family’s favourite snacks is hummus.  As a child, I had no exposure to this Middle Eastern staple, as my parents don’t enjoy it.  But as an adult, I’ve discovered the joy that is hummus – chickpeas, tahini (sesame seed paste), and other ingredients combine in a luscious way to create a high-protein, healthy treat.

Brendan is no different than me – his eyes light up when I make it and he gets to be my official “taste tester” to see if it needs a little more sea salt or garlic.  Yesterday, I made a batch for a homeschool co-op potluck and when it was done, I told him he could have a spoonful – to get a clean spoon from the drawer.

He came back with a ladle.

I sent him back to try again, but that’s how much he likes this hummus recipe.

I’ve discovered, through the years, that if my chickpeas aren’t soft enough (via cooking), the hummus won’t be smooth enough.  There’s only so much a food processor can do to tough beans.  And I discovered (quite by accident) that adding olive oil in a slow drizzle while the food processor spins creates the creamy texture of commercial hummus.

This recipe is easy, but you will want to plan ahead if you don’t have tahini on hand.  I’ve tried a few different brands and found the best tahini to be procured in a halal market.  Any market that has halal meat caters to Middle Eastern customers and the shop keepers will be able to advise you on the best tahini they carry.  I also find a great price on dried chickpeas at halal markets – and chickpeas are in my food storage.  You can keep tahini in your cabinet (not the fridge), but it works well to keep it inverted if you live in a region that actually… I dunno… gets cold. It helps to keep the oil and the sesame paste incorporated to invert the jar.  Here in Arizona, it’s not such an issue and I can shake my jar to fully incorporate the oil and sesame paste that would otherwise separate.

This recipe is modified from my dear friend Jeanette‘s sister, Sharon.  Sharon took the instructions from her Lebanese husband, Abe.

Sue’s Hummus
  • 1 ¾ c. cooked chickpeas (or 1 can, reserve the liquid)
  • the juice & zest of one large lemon (or two small lemons)
  • 5 T. tahini
  • 3 large cloves of garlic, peeled & sliced
  • ½ c. of olive oil
  • sea salt to taste

Cook your chickpeas until the skins split and they are soft – the softer, the better.  I use dried chickpeas and soak them overnight, then use my pressure cooker for 15 minutes on high to get them to the correct softness.  If you use canned beans drain the water in which they are packed and use fresh water to cook them until very soft; reserve the cooking water no matter what method you use.

Place the chickpeas in your food processor bowl with a large ladle-plus (about 1½ ladles-full) of cooking liquid.  Whirl on high (or the equivalent of puree) for 2 minutes.  The mixture will thicken up – if you feel it’s too thick, add a bit more cooking-liquid so you don’t burn out your food processor’s motor.

While that’s spinning and pureeing, go ahead and peel & cut your garlic (slices are fine) and get ready to add the garlic to the food processor.  Add the garlic and continue to whirl another minute or two.  While that’s taking place, zest your lemon(s) on a microplane grater and set the zest aside.

Pull out your tahini and stir, if necessary.  If your tahini has separated, you will need to use a bit of force to recombine it – don’t be afraid.  Tahini is just like natural peanut butter – the weight of the ground sesame seeds (like the weight of ground peanuts) will separate from the natural oil that exists in the seed over time.  Add tahini and whirl again on high/puree for another minute-plus.

Slice your lemon(s) in half and squeeze the juice, over a strainer (unless you want seeds in your hummus – I don’t!) in to the bowl of your food processor.  This should deposit a scant half-cup of lemon juice in to your hummus, which is about right.  Whirl again for a minute or so.

You’re now at the stage where you’re going to let the food processor go on its own – lid on, plunger out.  While the food processor whirls on high/puree, you will drizzle the olive oil in      s l o w l y.  You’re not only adding healthy oil to the hummus, but the slow drizzle added to the spinning food processor blade is emulsifying the oil to create a creamy texture.  Just like drizzling oil slowly in to a homemade mayonnaise will emulsify the oil to make the creaminess of the mayo, so will drizzling in the oil while making hummus.  After the last drop of the oil is added, whirl without the plunger for another minute or two, adding in pinches of sea salt to taste.  Stop the machine and taste your hummus – adjust to taste at this point.  If you like more garlic, add garlic.  If you want it a little saltier, add sea salt by the pinch.  When you’re satisfied with the final outcome, place in a bowl and garnish the center with your reserved lemon zest.

Serve with fresh pita, celery sticks, or a spoon – your choice.

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