Buying hummus at the store used to be good enough for me…until I had the hummus at Azar’s – the local Middle Eastern restaurant – and a darn good one at that. But then sometimes you are driving by and thinking “Gee, wouldn’t it be great to swing by and have a nice plate of hummus and hot pita?” only to find that they are closed on a Saturday morning!!! Not that I necessarily expected them to be open on a Saturday morning, but when you want hummus, you WANT hummus. Luckily, my hubby found an amazing recipe on smittenkitchen.com and did a little tinkering so that now, anytime, anyhow, we have delicious hummus on hand.
One of the things that makes the biggest difference, and this was confirmed by the woman behind all the good food at Azar’s, is soaking and cooking your own beans. Luckily, while they are soaking, the beans don’t need a lot of attention. Just give them something good to read.
What you will need for the only recipe for hummus you will ever have to use for ever more:
4 cups dried garbanzo, or chickpeas
7-8 garlic cloves
1 cup fresh lemon juice (keep a few lemons around in case you want to add more juice to taste)
1 and 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 15-ounce can of tahini (we prefer Joyva, but there are perfectly good other brands out there!)
Your first step is just to place about three cups of dried beans into a large bowl and fill with water, almost to the top. You want the beans to have lots of moisture to suck up!
Then set them aside, preferably in a cool place, and let them soak overnight.Or you could start them early in the morning and cook them that evening. Whatever works for your schedule. Soaking them for 12-24 hours (we usually soak for around 12 hours) reduces your cooking time by about a half an hour.
You’ll want to rinse the beans completely before putting them in a pot for cooking. Add enough water to cover the beans with an inch or two of water. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt (we like to air on the less-salty side, you can always add more when you are getting ready to serve it!) and simmer for an hour or two. You can check on the beans by removing one and cutting it in half – you won’t want to see any white chalkiness, that is an indication that they aren’t cooked through!
NOTE: When the beans are done cooking, DON’T FORGET TO SAVE SOME OF THE LIQUID! I forget about half the time, and I assure you, it’s always annoying!! The extra garbanzo liquid really adds some richness and garbanzo-y flavor, which is one thing I really love about this recipe.
The beans will now be shiny and hydrated, and once they are cooled, it’s time to prep your other ingredients.
One of the other key methods to this hummus recipe is the garlic mash. We have a mortar and pestle, which works great for this, but you could probably use the end of a large knife (carefully and at your own discretion..no injuries on my watch!) or the handle end of a ice cream scoop.
Put your garlic cloves into a bowl, or the mortar and sprinkle over 1 teaspoon of salt. This helps to break down the garlic and makes for a nice blending in once you add it to the other ingredients.
Once you have it nicely blended, set next to your cuisinart. Next, move on to your lemons. Depending on their size, you will need anywhere from six to ten lemons – the fresher the better. You will need about a cup. You might want some extra to adjust the flavor, but we generally use 1 cup.
We have a great lemon juicer, yellow and with a hinge. However, if you don’t, you can always squeeze them over your fingers to catch the seeds, or pour through a strainer, which we usually do anyhow, when you are done.
Now you are just about ready. I would recommend giving your tahini a few swirls with a spatula so you aren’t stuck trying to free it from the container when you are mixing everything together.
Now that you’ve got your beans, tahini, lemon juice and garlic paste, it’s time to begin! I have tried to think of alternatives to the cuisinart, but it really helps if you have one. I haven’t ever tried it in a different appliance, but you might be able to make something happen with a blender..although you might have to mix it in batches…
First you want to combine the garlic paste and lemon juice. Make sure they are mixed completely and that you don’t have any globs of the garlic paste trying to escape the container. Scrape in the whole container of tahini, blend until smooth and combined. Here you can either add 1/2 cup of water or 1/2 cup of the preserved bean liquid, we use the bean liquid for a more potent flavor.
Next, add about four cups of the cooked beans and blend, adding more bean liquid and lemon juice to adjust the consistency and flavor to your liking. And blend, blend, blend. Let that baby blend. Seriously. Blend longer than you think you have to.
To serve, spread hummus onto a plate, sprinkle with paprika and drizzle olive oil and chopped parsley on top. We are still working on a good pita recipe, but you can usually find something to suffice at the grocery store. And hey, if pita isn’t your thing, carrots are great, bell peppers are great, tomatoes are great, pretty much anything is great dipped in this hummus. Which is why it is a staple in our fridge!!
You can certainly go a little more easy on the parsley than I did here, but hey it’s good for you! Since you will likely have left-over beans, they go great on salads, as a snack all by themselves or toasted or fried up in any number of dishes. Garbanzo beans are a great way to add some nutrition and flavor to your meals!
Happy Hummus Eating!