Hummus is also one of those foods that I can remember eating for the first time (again with the food memories!), mostly because up until the very first bite I was resolutely convinced that chickpeas (garbanzos, as I was raised to call them) were the devil's food. Granted, I mostly ate them at church potlucks in traditional over-dressed-and-over-marinated three-bean salads. (Well, in true childhood eating fashion, I probably had them ONCE and made a judgment of Never Again.) But with that first bite, my mind was about to be blown...
Fastforward to 1991 and a girlfriend who loved to experiment with food. She was quite ingenious with a newlywed grocery budget--she knew how to turn random ingredients into a great meal. One of these meals regularly involved hummus. Imagine my surprise at how actually delicious it was; flavorful and unlike anything chickpea-ish I'd ever tasted before.
I go through hummus phases, where I make it a lot, then take a break... a few months later, I think, where's the hummus? and away we go again on a hummus jag. The past couple of weeks? Yeah, we're on a jag...
Makes 2+ cups
1 16 oz can (2 cups if you've cooked your own) chickpeas or garbanzo beans
1/4+ cup liquid from can of chickpeas (or water, if not using canned)
3-5 Tbsp lemon juice (depending on your taste)
1 1/2 tablespoons tahini
2 cloves garlic, crushed (roasted garlic is great for flavor, and you can up the number to 3-4 cloves, since the flavor is more mellow)
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
Put the garlic cloves in your food processor and whiz until they are chopped fine. Add the chickpeas, liquids, tahini, cumin, salt and olive oil, and puree until smooth. Taste and then adjust as you desire. (Here is where I often add another garlic clove, thinking it needs a little "boost," and then regret it later...)
For smoother hummus, legend has it (well, online sources, but it sounds like the work of a legend) that peeling the individual garbanzo bean is the way to go for truly creamy hummus. One day I may have just that much time on my hands. But I have a hard time actually thinking that the smooth would be worth it... who knows, maybe once I've done it, I'll never go back?
I DO know that letting hummus sit overnight in the fridge improves its flavor greatly, if you have that kind of patience. For me, I usually double the recipe and enjoy the first night, then have leftovers the second night and remark to myself how a) wonderful it is, I should always leave it to deepen the flavors, or b) wow, why did I add that third garlic clove?
And, lastly, there are always lovely variations to be had with hummus. I think one of my favorites is roasted red pepper, which is easily accomplished with a few strips of either fresh or canned roasted red peppers hopping in the food processor along with the rest of the ingredients. And I always like a few chopped kalamata olives on top or mixed into the hummus as well (see picture above!).
If you enjoy hummus as much as I enjoy hummus, let me know what variation you prefer or if there's an ingredient you add that I'm missing. I'm always up for a new twist.