Hummus is a tasty spread that I learned about in the Middle East on a fabulous vacation. I love it so much that I would like to share the recipe with you, my beloved readers. It is made from cooked chickpeas (ceci in Italian) and sesame seed paste (called tahini), flavored with lemon juice, olive oil and various spices such as paprika, coriander and sumac. Hummus is usually served as “meze” or small appetizer with Arabic bread (like pita bread) or fresh veggies (carrots, celery, bell peppers, fennel); it can also accompany grilled chicken, fish or eggplant. The flavor is mild and nutty, slightly acidic because of the lemon juice, which gives a pleasing balance of flavors.
The name hummus literally means chickpeas in Arabic. The full name in Arabic is hummus bi tahini, or rather, chickpeas with tahini. Hummus is an ancient dish. Even if chickpeas are native of the Middle East, they have been a staple of the Mediterranean Basin and Italian cuisine for hundreds of years. If you want to enjoy other recipes prepared with chickpeas please check Chickpea and rice salad, Chickpea flatbread, Chickpea salad.
Besides being very tasty, chickpeas are also very nutritious. They are rich in iron, vitamin C, folate and vitamin B6. Chickpeas are also an excellent source of protein and dietary fiber, while tahini is rich in amino acids and monounsaturated fatty acids. Hummus is a good choice for a nutritious vegetarian dish.
280 g (10 oz) dried chickpea or 650 g (1 ½ pounds) canned chickpeas (drained and without the skin)
2 bay leaves (if you use the dried ones)
60 ml (¼ scarce cup) iced cold water
5-6 tablespoons tahini paste
3-4 tablespoons lemon juice
Paprika or sumac
Extra virgin olive oil for serving
1. Soak the chickpeas in cold water, in a large glass container, overnight. The next day, rinse the chickpeas under cold running water. Then in a saucepan with plenty of water, boil them with the bay leaves for 60-90 minutes. Remove from heat, rinse and remove the skin. Rinse again and drain. Put some chickpeas aside for garnishing
2. Place the chickpeas in a blender and puree; add a pinch of salt
3. Add the water little by little to reach the consistency of a paste. You can always add more water at the end. If you add too much, you cannot remove it. Add the tahini and lemon juice. Blend again until you get a creamy consistency, but not too soft. Add a pinch of salt if necessary. Garnish with chickpeas, paprika or sumac and olive oil. Serve immediately.
Note : How to keep hummus for 1-2 days in the fridge : store in tightly closed container cover with some plastic paper to keep out moisture. – Paola