October 9, 2013

Smooth and Creamy Hummus


I thought I'd continue with the theme of healthier Game Day snacks. In my last post, I talked about buffalo cauliflower bites, a lighter and healthier version of that Game Day stalwart, buffalo wings.

Another quintessential Game Day (or any day) snack is chips and dip. When I was little, that meant Lays potato chips with sour cream and onion dip. Tortilla chips with guacamole came later. These days, it's pita chips and hummus. 

Truth be told, I usually buy my hummus. I'm partial to Trader Joe's edamame hummus, with its distinctive green color and garlicky bite. I've made hummus a few times and it's been fine. But somehow, when I've made it, it's always had a grainy texture that turned me off.

I might not have even tried this hummus recipe if it hadn't been billed as "smooth and creamy." The secret is cooking the chickpeas with a little baking soda. The baking soda works on the skins so that they come right off the chickpeas. They float to the top of the cooking water from where you can easily skim them off. No skins, no grainy hummus.

The flavor didn't blow me away at first. But that was easily fixed. A drizzle of good olive oil, a sprinkling of pine nuts, a dusting of smoked paprika and I was in business. Next time I'll cut back a little on the tahini and throw in some extra garlic and lemon juice.

You can really play around with this recipe. Add a chipotle pepper, toss in some fresh herbs, or add chopped olives or roasted peppers. In other words, take this basic recipe and make it your own.

Soak dried chickpeas overnight in cold water.

Drain. Then heat for a few minutes with baking soda, until the skins start to peel off.

Cover with water and bring to a boil.

Cook until tender, skimming off any foam and skins that rise to the top.

Drain, then place cooked chickpeas in a food processor.

Process until you get a stiff paste.

With the processor running, add the following through the feed tube: tahini paste, lemon juice, garlic, salt and ice water. Let the processor run for five minutes, until you get a gloriously smooth and creamy hummus.


Smooth and Creamy Hummus

Recipe slightly adapted from Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi an d Sami Tamimi

*I cut down a little on the tahini and amped up the lemon juice and garlic.

1 1/4 cups dried chickpeas
1 tsp baking soda
6 1/2 cups water
3/4 cup tahini (light roast)
6 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
6 cloves garlic, crushed
6 1/2 Tbsp ice cold water
Good quality olive oil, pine nuts and paprika, to serve (optional)

1.    The night before, put the chickpeas in a large bowl and cover them with cold water at least twice their volume. Leave to soak overnight.

2.    The next day, drain the chickpeas. Place a medium saucepan over high heat and add the drained chickpeas and baking soda. Cook for about three minutes, stirring constantly.

3.    Add the water and bring to a boil. Cook, skimming off any foam and any skins that float to the surface. The chickpeas will need to cook for 20 to 40 minutes, depending on the type and freshness, sometimes even longer. Once done, they should be very tender, breaking up easily when pressed between your thumb and finger, almost but not quite mushy.

4.    Drain the chickpeas. Place the chickpeas in a food processor and process until you get a stiff paste.

5.    Then, with the machine sill running, add the tahini paste, lemon juice, garlic, and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Finally, slowly drizzle in the ice water and allow it to mix for about five minutes, until you get a very smooth and creamy paste.

6.    Transfer the hummus to a bowl, cover the surface with plastic wrap, and let it rest for at least 30 minutes. If not using straightaway, refrigerate until needed. Make sure to take it out of the fridge at least 30 minutes before serving.

7.    Serve with a drizzle of good quality olive oil, a dusting of paprika and a sprinkling of pine nuts.

Serves 6

Note: This hummus will keep in the refrigerator for up to three days.