How about some homemade hummus?

Hummus is one of those party favorites that’s hard not to dip into, but if you quiz the average person on how to make the stuff, they might respond with something like, “Hummus? Hmmmmm.”

Hummus has been a Mediterranean staple for eons, and its popularity here in the U.S. has exploded in recent years, to the joy of pita chip makers everywhere. It’s a creamy mixture that, in addition to being a dip, is also wonderful used as a spread on sandwiches in place of mayonnaise or dressing.

The stuff sells like wildfire at places like Trader Joe’s and Henry’s Farmers Markets, and is also commonly found in mainstream stores as well, usually costing several dollars for a small tub.

But here’s a secret: Hummus is actually a snap to make, and doing it yourself will only cost around a buck fifty. Heck, you don’t even need any cooking utensils (well, OK, a can opener, if that counts). The only device required is a blender or food processor.

As for what goes into hummus, that, too, is surprising, in a very good way. Hummus’ main ingredient is the garbanzo bean, also known as the chickpea. Chickpeas get their name because, if you look closely at their rough texture, there is what appears to be a tiny bird’s beak sticking out on one side of the bean, which itself can resemble a chick’s head. And you thought the Man in the Moon was cool.

One of other ingredients is tahini, which is sesame seed paste. You can find it in a can, usually in the same aisle as peanut butter. The stuff has a texture that is smooth like creamy peanut butter and a similar property as the real stuff, where the oil rises to the top. After you open the can, be sure to mix it well. Tahini costs around $5-$6, but it will last a while in the refrigerator.

Because the main ingredient in hummus is a bean, the stuff is jam-packed with nutrients and fiber. The great thing about it, though, is you’d never know that what you’re eating can be so healthy and filling.

Ready to dip into something different? Get out your blender and let’s give this a whirl.

Hubba-Hubba Homemade Hummus
(Serves 2-4)

  • 15-ounce can garbanzo beans
  • 3 ounces water
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 ounce lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1/8 teaspoons black pepper
  • Garnish: Paprika, chopped Italian parsley’
  • Music for making it: Today I’m feeling romantic, so it’s the Valentine’s Day soundtrack. All together now: “Awwww.”

Step 1: Open the can of garbanzos, drain, rinse well under cold water and dump the beans into the blender, along with the rest of the ingredients. Draining and rinsing will help reduce some of the, shall we say, after effects of beans. To get the zest off a lemon, you get to buy a cool little tool called a zester (IKEA sells this inexpensive one). Or you can use a vegetable peeler. Lemon zests are packed with flavor; just make sure you don’t scrape up the white part, called the pith. It’s yuck.

Step 2: Put a lid on the blender or food processor and pulse a few times. The mixture will be thick. Between pulses, scrape the sides with a spoon or spatula to get everything back to the bottom. Pulse and repeat until it reaches the consistency you like. If you want a thinner mixture, add water a small bit at a time.

Step 3: Taste the mixture and make any final adjustments such as adding salt, a squeeze of lemon juice or more black pepper. Scrape the mixture into a bowl, making sure to get as much as possible from the side of the blender’s jar. Sprinkle some paprika and chopped parsley over the top – they both add a nice bite – and serve with pita chips, pita bread, carrots or whatever else your imagination and pantry can provide.

Congratulations! You’ve just made hummus, an affordable, nutritious, delicious treat that is a favorite among vegetarian health nuts and junk-food addicts alike. After you get this basic recipe down, try experimenting with additions such as olives, cilantro, sun-dried tomatoes or even jalapenos.

Thanks to Erin in Seattle for requesting this recipe. Is there something you’d like to know how to make? E-mail me @ matt(at)iwanttocook.com

5 Comments »

  1. paula said,

    May 13, 2010 @ 12:43 pm

    looks great! i bet erin will want to make some when she is home this weekend.

  2. I Want To Cook » Please your palate with some parsley said,

    May 25, 2010 @ 7:59 pm

    [...] for example, is hummus (try the recipe!) with only some paprika on [...]

  3. Cherine said,

    June 2, 2010 @ 1:40 am

    Your hummus looks perfect:)

  4. carswell said,

    June 2, 2010 @ 7:56 am

    Please, please, please use a real garlic clove and not garlic salt. It will add so much more depth of flavour.

  5. pj4mski said,

    July 18, 2010 @ 5:38 pm

    I also agree with carswell. I used real garlic cloves. I also reserved the bean juice and used it instead of the water. I will definitely try this recipe again and I will try adding some other ingredients as suggested. It was delicious and so easy to make!

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