If you spend any time with young children, you will be familiar with the “What _____ would you be if you could be a _____?” game. Creative, imaginative and often silly, kids are able to come up with all kinds of descriptions and explanations for why, if given the opportunity, they would like to be an animal, toy, superhero, etc.
If we played this game and you asked me, “Sarah, what food would you most like to be if you could be a food?” I just might say hummus. Before you laugh, consider the pros of hummus and ask yourself if you wouldn’t want to be deemed any one of these things: popular, versatile, substantial, dependable, unpretentious and frequently taken to parties. How could you lose?
Having survived the post-holiday hangover, January feels all about getting back to basics. Simple foods with few ingredients; hearty but not heavy, just restorative, wholesome food. Humble hummus, with its handful of ingredients, fits the bill nicely. If you have never made it before, I urge you to resist picking up an expensive tub at the deli and instead, making your own batch. You will be glad you did when it’s sustaining you through a long afternoon at work or impressing dinner guests as they whet their appetites before the main course.
If you like a rough, rustic texture to your hummus, use a mortar and pestle or even a potato masher to make this delicious dip. I always use the food processor for hummus because I love how dreamy-creamy you can get it. If you’re in a hurry or to make this almost too simple, use canned (drained and rinsed) chickpeas.
1 C dried chickpeas, soaked in fresh water overnight
¾ C tahini (sesame paste)
¼ olive oil + more to serve
½ C water
¼ C lemon juice
4 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
1 Tbsp salt
smoked paprika and freshly ground black pepper to serve
Drain the chickpeas from their soaking water and rinse with fresh water. Place them in a saucepan and add enough water to cover them by about 1 inch. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 1 hour or until you can squeeze a chickpea easily between your thumb and forefinger.
Once they are cooked, drain them and rinse them again (there might be some ugly but not harmful scum on the surface of the water – it won’t hurt you). Toss the chickpeas into the food processor, if using, and add the tahini and olive oil. Pulse until well chopped and partially incorporated. Add the garlic and lemon juice and process for about 30 seconds. The mixture will be thick and smooth. Thin with water to a “dipping” consistency. Season to taste with salt. To serve, drizzle with a smidgen more olive oil and sprinkle lightly with fresh pepper and smoked paprika. Serve with pita or other flat breads, or vegetables.