Homemade Hummus [Recipe]
Growing up in Ireland in the 70s and 80s fancy food generally meant a salmon en croûte, a Baked Alaska or a prawn cocktail on half an avocado topped with Marie Rose sauce. Findus Crispy Pancakes were the height of cool. Then pizzas arrived – hideous things that could be heated under the grill. We thought they were delicious because we had no frame of reference – we didn’t know how good pizza could taste. We drank instant coffee with pride. We had a coffee percolator that was dragged out a few times a year when my mother entertained, but the coffee was left sitting for hours and it tasted awful – the instant stuff was so much nicer.
When I first went to America I was fascinated by the range of food available. I would spend hours at the supermarket, browsing the aisles. I’d only ever seen jalapenos in jars – here they had them fresh. The bakery section would churn out fresh flour tortillas by the hundred, bagging them by 10s and 20s. Who needed that many tortillas, and why would you want them fresh? Back home they came in packs of six and generally had quite a long shelf life. They were also ridiculously expensive at over €3.00 per pack. I have since discovered that making tortillas at home is easy – and incredibly inexpensive. But the food companies had us over a barrel – we didn’t know how to make these foreign and exotic foods ourselves and so were prepared to pay a premium for them.
Hummus falls into this category. I can’t remember when I first tried it, but I know it was expensive when it initially became available in Ireland. I’d never heard of chickpeas (garbanzo beans) and didn’t know where to source them or how to turn them into luxurious, creamy hummus. If I’d known how easy it was I would never have paid for those tiny supermarket tubs.
Hummus is simply a blend of cooked chickpeas with olive oil, lemon juice, tahini (sesame paste) and some seasoning. If you use tinned chickpeas it does not require any cooking or any specialist equipment, although a blender will speed things up. Good olive oil and tahini can be expensive, especially if they’re organic, but the other ingredients are relatively cheap. The cost of the ingredients and the easy-peasy blending simply do not justify the prices charged by supermarkets. Plus, you get a far superior product free from preservatives or thickeners.
Chickpeas are now widely available, both tinned and dried. The hardest ingredient to find is likely to be the tahini. I make my own (which is really easy – it’s just toasted and blended sesame seeds), but you can generally find it in the health food aisle. An alternative is to use peanut butter, which is not traditional but has a similar taste when blended into the hummus. You can also just leave it out – the hummus will still be creamy and delicious.
Hummus is wonderfully versatile and its uses go way beyond a dip for crudités. Because of the lemony tang and creamy texture it works well with smoked salmon. Chickpeas have a high protein and fibre content, so hummus makes a great meat-free sandwich filler. It is delicious as a dip with chips or crackers. It is a great alternative to mayo on a burger, or serve with barbecued meats such as lamb or pork, rolled into a smoky flat bread for the ultimate kebab.
Creamy, Tangy Hummus
1 x 400 g | 15-16* oz tin chickpeas (garbanzo beans) or 100 g | 3.5 oz dried chickpeas
½ tsp baking soda (bicarbonate of soda) – only required if using dried chickpeas
1 small clove garlic, peeled
50 mls | 4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
½ lemon, juice only (about 5 Tbsp)
1 heaped tsp tahini or peanut butter (both optional)
½ tsp fine sea salt
*In Ireland, chickpeas come in a 400 g tin as standard. I have discovered that in the US the size of the tins can vary. 15 oz tins are common, but some brands do 15.5 or 16 oz. These extra ounces won’t impact the recipe, especially since 1/3 of the weight is liquid that you will strain off.
- If using dried chickpeas, place the chickpeas in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil and boil rapidly (without a lid) for 10 minutes. Strain the chickpeas, cover again with plenty of cold water (at least 3 times the volume of water to chickpeas), add the baking soda and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover with a lid and simmer gently for 45 minutes or until the chickpeas are just soft. Strain and allow to cool before proceeding.
- If using tinned chickpeas, strain the chickpeas through a colander or sieve and rinse well with cold water. Allow excess water to drain before proceeding.
- Pour the prepared chickpeas into a food processor. Add the garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, tahini or peanut butter (if using) and salt to the chickpeas. Blend until the hummus reaches your preferred consistency. A very smooth hummus works well as a dip. A slightly chunky hummus (as shown) is great as a sandwich filler.
Disclosure: This post is not sponsored in any way. It does contain links to products that I have personally selected and recommend. If you purchase products via the links in this post I receive a teeny, tiny commission.