Hummus, to my mind, is like applesauce: store-bought versions are no substitute for the real deal. Fortunately, the two have many other similarities. Both are incredibly easy to make. Both only require a few, easily obtainable ingredients. And particularly when made at home, both are not just good eating but good to eat.
Although few people get excited about applesauce these days, hummus remains hugely popular. Anecdotally, I know this because I get more requests for made-from-scratch hummus than any other creation at Twice as Tasty catered events. Neil Irwin of the New York Times supports this view by ranking hummus among “foods that have generally had staying power.” When you combine it with homegrown veg or Sourdough Pita Chips and flavor it with roasted garlic, hummus is guaranteed to fly off the table.
If the bulb has a long stem, cut off the top of the bulb to just above the individual cloves. Wrap the entire head of garlic in foil. Bake at 350°F for 30–45 minutes, depending on the size and age of the head, until the paper around the cloves begins to brown and the cloves are slightly soft to the touch.
Let cool just enough to handle if using as a warm spread; it’s fine to let it cool to room temperature for Roasted-Garlic Hummus (see below). To use, break a clove from the head and cut the tip from the clove or peel away the outer layer so that you can squeeze it from its papery skin. Store any unused cloves in the refrigerator for a few days. Roasts 1 large head.
Tips & Tricks
- Although roasted garlic will always taste best with homegrown bulbs, it’s on my winter creations list for two reasons. First, you can use stored heads as easily as freshly dug ones. Second, if you didn’t grow your own, you can buy garlic in any market at any time of year.
- Even if you’re roasting 2 or 3 heads at a time, you can use a toaster oven in winter or place it alongside a main dish baking at the same temperature in the full-size oven. In summer, throw it on the grill with tomatoes and other produce. Don’t bother with the foil if grilling; it will be easier to tell when it’s finished.
- If you’re planning to use an entire head in one go, you can cut the tops off the cloves before roasting; when it’s done, squeeze the entire head to release all the cloves at once. It’s best to drizzle precut cloves with a bit of olive oil before wrapping the head in foil so that the exposed edge doesn’t harden while roasting.
- I prefer the flavor of roasted to fresh garlic in most dips and spreads, including hummus (see below), Grilled Onion Dip, and Baba Ghanouj. It’s also delicious with sourdough, whether spread on slices of bread for Gorgeous Grilled Cheese or sprinkled on Thin-Crust Pizza.
Twice as Tasty
The New York Times reports that 90% of nutritionists rated hummus as healthy in a recent survey. But it notes hummus was seen as “significantly more healthful by nutritionists than by the public.” Perhaps hummus is getting a bad rap from consumers because recalls have been issued for some of their favorite brands, including Sabra and Trader Joe’s in the United States and Avoca in Ireland.
Health and recalls are both reasons to make your hummus at home. Hummus remains undoubtedly healthy: low in calories and fat and free of sugar. The recalls are related to manufacturers’ finding Listeria monocytogenes on their processing equipment. Fortunately, these bacteria are easily avoided by basic good practices in home kitchens: clean hands and tools, a refrigerator set at the proper temp and cleaned regularly, and food promptly wrapped and chilled for short-term storage. But the ultimate reason to make hummus at home is that it tastes so good.
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
5 cloves Roasted Garlic, slightly mashed
2 tablespoons lemon juice
5 tablespoons tahini
1–2 tablespoons plain yogurt (optional)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 teaspoon ground cumin
1/3 teaspoon paprika
1/3 teaspoon ground coriander
pinch of cayenne
olive oil to taste
Cover the dried chickpeas with 2 inches of cold water, cover the pan, and let it sit overnight. Replace the soaking liquid with fresh water, add the baking soda, and bring the chickpeas to a boil, skimming off any foam that forms. Reduce to a simmer and cook the chickpeas for about 90 minutes, until you can pierce them with a fork. Scoop out 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid, and then drain the chickpeas.
Combine the chickpeas and cooking liquid in a food processor with all remaining ingredients except the olive oil; puree to the desired texture. Transfer to a serving or storage container and stir in olive oil to taste. Store in the refrigerator and eat within 1 week. Makes about 2 cups.
Tips & Tricks
- I prefer to cook dried chickpeas for hummus; I think the texture is better. If it seems time consuming, you can always cook a larger pot of chickpeas and get two meals in one by using some in a soup or other dish.
- The baking soda helps the chickpeas to soften while cooking. Don’t add salt to the cooking pot; it has the opposite effect.
- In a pinch, you can substitute one 15-ounce can of chickpeas for the dried chickpeas in this recipe. Be sure to check the label and buy the can with the least amount of salt: even those labeled “low sodium” can be surprisingly salty. Drain and rinse the canned chickpeas, and then use fresh water instead of cooking liquid in the recipe.
- Don’t substitute straight sesame oil for tahini; the flavor and feel won’t be the same. You can make tahini from scratch by pureeing 2 tablespoons sesame seeds in a food processor and then blending in 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and finally up to 1/4 cup tepid water until a paste forms. This makes about 1/2 cup of the paste.
- The texture of the finished dip is up to you—make it smooth or leave some chickpeas unmashed. The yogurt also adds to the smooth, creaminess of the hummus, but you can leave it out if desired.
- Serve hummus with Sourdough Pita Chips or vegetables for dipping, or spread it in a pocket of Sourdough Pita Bread before filling your sandwich. For a party table, I love to pair hummus with Baba Ghanouj.