Hummus Mastery

I’ve blogged basic hummus recipes before, and while I was never displeased with my hummus creations, I never stopped experimenting with this fundamental recipe. My primary goal in working on this recipe was to create a smoother hummus. Word on the street was that using dried garbanzos, as opposed to canned, would yield a smooth result. I did not find this to be true, but I did find that getting the proportions right with dried beans and balancing it all with the rehydration process was just not worth the trouble. The results I got weren’t especially smooth and the quality was spotty. I eventually scrapped the notion of using dried beans.

All this trial and error resulted in much extra hummus being produced, so I ended up bringing my experiments to work to unload on my co-workers. One of my co-workers at the time, Scott, is a vegan, but also a former employee at Aladdin’s Eatery, a Middle Eastern chain restaurant in our area. As chains go it is actually quite good due to their emphasis on natural foods and ingredients, and I have long admired their hummus and baba. What Scott revealed to me about the way they make hummus was positively shocking… they don’t use garlic. He told me that garlic is in fact not a standard ingredient in traditional hummus. Every recipe for hummus I have seem in my life uses garlic; how garlic weaseled its way into the standard ingredient list, I do not know. It’s not that hummus is bad with garlic. It can be quite tasty. But what I discovered following Scott’s revelation is that hummus can be even better without!

healthy-hummus-recipesSARAH’S MASTERFUL HUMMUS

1 (15oz) can of Trader Joe’s Garbanzo Beans, rinsed and drained
3 tablespoons sesame tahini
1/3 cup olive oil
juice of one or two lemons
1/2 teaspoon salt
dash of cumin
1/4 cup water
paprika, for garnish

Combine the garbanzos, tahini and oil in the food processor. Juice the lemons, making sure to strain out the seeds. Add lemon juice, salt and cumin to the processor. I usually use 1/4 cup of water, but you may want to use more or less, depending on the consistency you want. If you like a thicker hummus, add less. I recommend adding water one tablespoon at a time while processing to find out how much you need to reach your desired consistency. Adding more liquid will also enable the food processor to make the hummus smoother. Serve with chips or pita bread, garnish with paprika and drizzled olive oil.

I have tweaked this recipe many times, and have done side-by-side comparisons with Aladdin’s hummus (I make a batch for comparison whenever I get Aladdin’s take-out). Over this past weekend I did the same, and it’s finally gotten to the point where they are nearly indistinguishable. Any subtle difference in flavor is probably due to differing source ingredients (I’m sure I don’t use the exact same tahini brand as they do, for example), but the general balance of flavors is the same.

If you don’t have a Trader Joe’s nearby, you can, of course, use another brand of garbanzos, but I would recommend using them if you have a TJ in town. I discovered that Trader Joe’s garbanzos are significantly better tasting than other brands of canned beans after using them in my Garbanzo Salad. They are the only garbanzos I will use, now, for the salad, and they make a big flavor difference in the hummus, too.

One final note about the lemons: I usually double this recipe and use three lemons, so technically, I use one and a half lemons for a recipe of this size, but the flexibility to go up or down in lemon flavor is up to you!

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