creamy homemade hummus with fresh herbs

creamy homemade hummus

Make homemade hummus! It’s so worth it, miles away from the stuff you buy ready-made, which is often loaded with things you’d rather avoid, like preservatives and cheap soybean oil. Yes, it takes more time than popping a lid off a plastic container. You need to soak chickpeas (best to do while you’re sleeping) and then cook them. I didn’t bother making my own hummus regularly but recently it’s become a ritual. No, a necessity. I eat it for breakfast, spread on whole grain toast, topped with a soft-boiled egg.

My ideas about hummus changed after an eye-opening dinner at Zahav in Philadelphia. We had an amazing meal (omg, the lamb!), but later I couldn’t stop thinking about Zahav’s hummus recipe. It was like nothing I’d had before.

I’ve since learned that Israeli-style hummus stands apart from most of the options in grocery stores. It’s made with a lot more tahini, for one thing. At Zahav, it’s served warm on a plate, not cold in a bowl alongside raw carrot sticks.  It’s almost liquid, incredibly smooth and very sensuous, with a texture like whipped cream.

creamy homemade hummus with cilantro

I’ve tried different recipes and methods, including one that required peeling each individual chickpea, which was where I drew a firm line. Sorry. I want really good hummus, but it has to be a fairly simple process.  I’ve landed on this recipe, my current favorite.

I add fresh cilantro and basil which turns the hummus a lovely pale green, but it’s equally delicious just plain.

A note on ingredients: After making so many batches of hummus, I found that using the freshest dried chickpeas and tahini paste is important. I used to get frustrated with tahini that was hard and separated and chickpeas that were so old they took all day to cook. I like Soom tahini  because it tastes amazing and pours out so easily, and the freshest chickpeas I’ve found are grown in Washington state. They come in a burlap sack labeled with the harvest date and the actual field they were grown in.

homemade hummus with fresh herbs

Yield About 3 cups

This hummus tastes best freshly made. If you're not serving it right away, keep refrigerated up to 5 days.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dried chickpeas
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 plump garlic clove
  • Fine sea salt
  • 1/2 cup tahini
  • Juice of 1 lemon and 1 lime
  • Good handful fresh herbs - I like a mix of cilantro, basil and parsley 
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • Cold water
  • Smoked paprika (optional)

Instructions

  1. Soak the chickpeas in plenty of water overnight. Drain and put them in a saucepan with the baking soda, garlic, 2 teaspoons salt and 3 quarts water. Cook until tender. Depending on the freshness of your chickpeas, this can take 30 - 90 minutes. Drain. Pull out the garlic and discard.
  2. Measure out 2 cups (the remaining chickpeas are for garnishing the hummus) and put into a food processor with the tahini, lemon and lime juice, herbs, olive oil, cumin and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. 
  3. Puree the mixture at least 3 minutes, dribbling in cold water 2 tablespoons at a time until velvety smooth.
  4. Scoop some hummus onto a shallow bowl or plate and spread it out with the back of a spoon. Drizzle with olive oil, top with some chickpeas and a few herb sprigs. Sprinkle a little smoked paprika over the top, if you like. 

summer squash with basil butter

My first attempt at growing summer squash didn’t work out so well. We’d just bought a mod 1950s stucco house in Miami, with a carport, terrazzo tile floors and a postcard backyard, most of which was occupied by a cracked concrete patio slab. The gaps and crevices in that patio supported an alarming number of tenacious tropical weeds that I never, ever learned to control.  In fact the whole outdoor landscape in South Florida was a challenge to my New England senses; verdantly evergreen, crawling with super-sized insects and iguanas.

Up to that point, I’d been an apartment dweller. The only plants I’d cultivated were a ficus tree and assorted pots of herbs on a windowsill. But I was inspired by a little book on vegetable gardening I’d picked up at a thrift store, Angelo Pellegrini’s The Food Lover’s Garden, published in 1970. The book seemed romantically old-school to me. Pellegrini was an Italian immigrant of my grandparents’ generation,  a college professor “with an instinct for the good life.”

I wanted to start living my own good life, growing my own food in my own yard, imagining that the everlasting summer climate would be paradisiacal for vegetables. But the profuse garden outlined in the good professor’s book, full of all manner of “herbaceous edibles,”  was in temperate Washington state, not the subtropics. Long story short, when I finally paid attention to what was growing and thriving in my neighbors’ backyards I realized I’d have much better luck growing bananas and coconuts. (I did.)

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raw and roasted cherry tomato salad

August is the month that feels most like summer to me, when days melt lazily into each other and the sun feels that much warmer. It’s the perfect time to unplug. When we lived in the Midwest, my kids would start the new school year in early August, which never failed to feel strangely out of step – it was always September when I was growing up. This year it felt nice to push our vacation into that last full month of summer.

We spent a few weeks on the coast of Rhode Island; almost every day was so clear and beautiful, each sunset outdoing the last. I didn’t want it to end.  Nothing makes me happier than looking at the ocean all day, and planning dinner around produce from the local farmstand – at this point in the summer that would be tomatoes, sweet corn, blueberries…and more tomatoes.

The cherry tomatoes I found at the market the other day were hard to resist, in a rainbow of colors. Usually my daughter eats them up by the handful straight out of the pint basket, as if they were the cherries they’re named after. Before they disappeared, I got the idea to make a cooked and raw salad,  to get a little bit of the intensity I love about roasted tomatoes along with the burst of juicy freshness from uncooked ones.  [Read more…]