Monday, July 25, 2011

Meatless Monday: Homemade Hummus

About a week ago, I was out shopping with my boys at the local health food store and at the cash register was a container of hummus and some chips for customers to sample.  My four-year-old (who, I'm proud to say, is usually pretty willing to try anything new) dug in. He loved it! I eventually had to tell him to stop, as he kept stuffing his mouth with the hummus-laden chips (I also had to keep him from doing a double dip).   I almost added a container of the pre-made hummus to my grocery bill, but I realized that I already had almost all the ingredients to make a batch of it at home. All I needed was some tahini and we'd have homemade hummus in no time.

Although hummus alone doesn't exactly constitute a meatless meal, it's great in a meatless diet/meal because it serves as a complete protein, as well as a good source of iron.  Granted, it is high in fat (as in, the good kind of fats) and calories, so eat it in moderation. We love to snack on it with tortilla or pita chips. It's also a great dip for vegetables. It also serves well as a spread on sandwiches -- you can bypass the meat and use hummus instead. Or just eat it plain with some pita bread. Yum!

Here's the recipe I use for hummus -- I think I may have gotten it from an issue of Everyday Food or Martha Stewart Living. I like it because it's a good, basic recipe -- you can take it as it is or adapt it to your tastes with various spices and mix-ins (peppers, different beans, extra garlic, etc.).

Homemade Hummus -- makes about 3 cups

2 cans (15.5 oz.) of chickpeas (also called garbanzo beans)  {Note: when I was buying the tahini, the lady at the register suggested using Great Northern beans. She also said that she's used black beans in the past. Feel free to experiment!}
1/3 cup lemon juice (it took two fairly large lemons for me to get that much)
1/4 cup tahini (stirred well)
2 cloves of garlic
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 1/4 tsp. kosher salt

When you open one of the cans of chickpeas, save 1/4 cup of the liquid. Then, empty both cans into a colander; rinse and drain, shaking off excess water.

Some thoughts on tahini: For those not familiar with tahini, it's similar to peanut butter except that it's made from sesame seeds. A jar or can of tahini can run anywhere from $5-10, depending on what brand and size you buy and where you get it. I got mine at Whole Foods for about $6. That may seem kind of pricey, but a container of this stuff goes a long way, especially if you're only using 1/4 cup of it at a time. An opened container of tahini stores really well -- either on the shelf or in the refrigerator. The general consensus on storage is, if you're going to use it up fairly soon (like in a few months), store it at room temperature; otherwise, keep it in the fridge (where it can last a year -- some say even longer!).  Before you use the tahini in your hummus, be sure to stir it really well since the oil and paste separate.

Put the chickpeas, lemon juice, tahini, garlic, reserved liquid, cayenne, and salt into a food processor. Pulse and process until the consistency is nice and smooth.

And that's it -- fresh, homemade hummus in mere minutes. If you like, you can garnish it with some extra virgin olive oil and a dash of paprika. Store in an airtight container (mine's in a glass canning jar) in the refrigerator for about a week or so.

Note: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have disclosed.

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