Nothing says party like a three-way!

Do you remember my rant about expensive grocery store dips?  Hummus is one of the worst offenders.  I make hummus at home, um, often.  Sometimes it just feels like a hummus day.  Other times we have unexpected guests dropping in and I know that in 5 minutes or less I’ll be able to get something on the table for them.  It’s comfort food to me, it’s party food for my buddies, and it costs about $3.00 to make a tub for you and 20 of your closest friends.  Hummus is perfect for 2 am feeding frenzies served with torn up pitas (I’d rather keep my finger tips than investigate post-bar knife skills) or leftover veggies.  It’s also great in a wrap with just about anything, as an extra layer in a layered dip, or even as a thickening base for certain types of soup stocks!  No kidding.  I went there one day out of desperation alone and was pleasantly surprised at how well my hummus and ham with green stuff Pureed Chickpea and Prosciutto Soup with Sage turned out.

Anyone can make hummus in about 5 minutes flat, assuming that you have a food processor or a sturdy blender.  After it’s made, why not show some of your personal flair?  Think of your hummus batch as tabula rasa and try some of your favourite flavour combinations.  In case you need some inspiration, I will share some of mine.

First let’s make some basic hummus.  One batch of hummus, using 1 can of chickpeas, will yield about a cup and a half.  If you have 3 or more people in the room I strongly suggest that you double the recipe as this will be gone sooner than you can say, “Hey guys, would you like some hu-” 

Let’s also talk very briefly about texture.  Hummus should be rather smooth and spreadable – something that you can dip a carrot into and get a nice coating, and that you can also spread like peanut butter (not the chunky kind.  Okay, bad example).  However, it should not be soupy, in a silky puree, or lumpy with bits of chickpea fighting for breath.  Generally I’m flexible, and I’ll tell you to do whatever tastes good to you, but on this point I stand firm.

Finally, I like a flavorful, bright and citrusy hummus.  It probably has more lemon than what you get in the grocery store, but I can guarantee that it also has way more taste and fewer unnecessary fats and preservatives.

Basic Hummus

  • 1 19 oz can of chickpeas
  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/4 cup fruity extra virgin olive oil * 
  • 1 lemon
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt or sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne **    
*  Note 1:  There are very few ingredients here, and you can actually taste the difference that a good quality EVOO makes.  Oh god.  I just said EVOO.  I channeled Rachel Ray.  I have nothing to say for myself.
** Note 2:  This won’t make it spicy, but if you are nervous about any heat at all then I suppose you can omit it.
*** ALSO WORTHY OF NOTE:  If it looks like I have way more than 1/4 cup of olive oil, or 1 can of chickpeas, it’s because I do.  I’m showing you the pictures I took when I did the hummus trio because, well, let’s be honest – I wasn’t going to do it twice.  Either way, you’ll understand the intention.
Put the garlic, olive oil and tahini in a food processor and blend for about 30 seconds until it is uniform and there are no chunks of garlic.
Drain your can of chickpeas….
…..and toss these in the processor.  Squeeze a lemon in, throw in your salt and spices, and blend it until the desired consistency is reached.  Scoop it into a bowl, and if you want to be traditional then drizzle a bit of extra virgin olive oil (just a bit!) on top, and sprinkle with sweet paprika.
Yes, it is that fast.  You’re done.
TIP:  Because I’m a bit fussy on texture, you should know that sometimes your chickpeas might be drier and starchier, and sometimes your lemons just don’t yield the juice that you want.  If your dip is too thick, you can pulse it again with a bit more olive oil or cold water (which is more important to you?  Taste or calories?  Then make the call accordingly) but only add a bit at a time because it won’t take much.
Hummus Three-Ways
When I go to a party I don’t like to arrive empty handed, and most of the time when my “Seriously, what can I bring?!” question comes up it is met with the answer of, “Uh, how about those dips….I really like those dips.  You know, the trio.”  Nothing says love like a trio of hummus.  The beauty of doing a hummus trio is that it’s so very fast and easy.  Oh, and cheap.  I should mention cheap.  Triple your recipe for basic hummus, divide it into thirds, and you can leave one plain or do them all up in different ways.  So, let’s start by tripling our recipe for hummus, or thereabouts.  
  • 3 19 oz cans of chickpeas
  • 6 tbsp tahini
  • 3 – 4 cloves garlic, depending on size
  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 large, luscious lemons
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt or sea salt
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne
Puree your olive oil, garlic, and tahini – just like before.
How big is your food processor?  Is it large enough to be able to safely hold all of the above ingredients and still do it’s magic?  Does it look like this?  
Note:  it should NOT look like this.  If your food processor is like mine then put every ingredient other than the lemon juice into a big bowl and give it a stir.  Make sure that the spices and salt mix in a bit.  You will want to puree this mixture, with the lemon juice, in 2 batches.  At the end, mix the two batches back together.  Why am I giving you an extra step, you ask?  Because even if you THINK that everything fits, if it looks like the picture above and your processor is stuffed to the gills not only will you have trouble blending things properly but the liquid will likely start to leak out the top, bottom and sides.  All of that glorious lemon juice that you just squeezed will be gone, and you will have to send someone else out to the store (you can’t go, you have chickpea hands and you’re busy!) and he will NOT be happy about this new task, and you’ll hear a lot of griping and moaning, and despite the fact that you will have barely finished cleaning the sticky mess off the counter by the time that he gets back you will still be treated like a Kitchen Devil.  So….don’t over fill the processor.
Once it’s all mixed, divide it into 3 bowls and get ready to PLAY!!!  Here are some ideas……

Variation 1:  Black Olive Hummus

  •  3/4 cup briny black olives, preferably kalamata
  • 1 – 2 sprigs of fresh oregano, or 1/2 tsp of dried
Pit the olives and chop them up.  If your oregano is fresh, chop it up too at the same time!  If you have dried, meh, nothing to worry about.  
When you have a relatively fine mince, drop it into your hummus.  You just need to stir and you’re done!

Variation 2:  Indian Style Spicy Hummus

  • 1.5 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp very hot paprika  OR 1/2 tsp chili powder + 1/2 tsp paprika + cayenne to taste
  • 1 tsp cumin
* Note:  If you like it spicier, add more cayenne
Throw these all into your hummus.  I LOVE the bright and exciting colours!
Mix it in, with another 1 tbsp of olive oil because all of that spice will dry it out otherwise.

 Variation 3:  Lemon and Dill Hummus

  • 1 tbsp lemon zest (from 1/3 lemon)
  • 1 tbsp dried dill weed, or 2 tbsp fresh
Zest 1/3 of the lemon into your bowl which is about 1 tbsp loosely packed.  This will be more than enough.  Why is the bowl empty, you ask?  If you’re doing this one, I suggest zesting the lemon before you make the hummus unless you have an extra lemon on hand.  Trying to zest a juiced lemon is an exercise in patience, to say the least.
So…throw in your dill and stir it up.  And you’re done.
That was disgustingly easy, wasn’t it?  Any easier and it would be a sin, I swear.  Plus, now you have SO MUCH DELICIOUS HUMMUS!!  Ooh yeahhhh…….
Serve these with pita wedges and veggies if you like.
So you don’t like my variations?  Fair enough.  Why not try any of these:
1.  Roasted Red Pepper Hummus:  puree 1/4 cup of roasted red peppers with your hummus.
2.  Mexicali Hummus:    Add 1 finely minced jalapeno (or as much as you like for heat and flavour), minced coriander and 2 limes instead of the lemon.
3.  Sundried Tomato Pesto Hummus:  Finely chop 2 – 3 large oil packed sun dried tomatoes, a handful of fresh basil, and 1/4 cup parmesan cheese.
4.  Spinach and Feta Hummus:  Add 1/2 cup of chopped cooked spinach (why not use the frozen kind where the work is done for you?) and 1/2 cup of crumbled feta.
5.  Roasted Garlic Hummus:  Omit the garlic in your recipe, and instead add 1/2 bulb or about 6 cloves of roasted garlic.  Don’t worry, it won’t be overwhelming because roasted garlic is so sweet and mild.
6.  Chipotle Hummus:  Puree with 1 canned chipotle pepper, or 1 adobe pepper.
7.  Avocado Hummus:  Puree hummus with the flesh of 1 ripe avocado.
Now you have 1 basic hummus recipe and TEN (10!) variations.  Surely that is inspiration enough for you to go out and enjoy!!

Music to munch by:  You’re My Flame by Zero 7

  • http://glark.org Glark

    Mmm… I’ve being living off store-bought hummus and pita in a rental for the past week and after reading this I am a) angry there’s no food processor here and b) the hungriest I’ve been ever.

  • Nanco

    I’ve been making my hummus without a recipe for a while, and now I realize that I’ve been skipping an ingredient: I don’t use any oil. I asked a friend whose hummus is always tasty what her secret is, and she shared that she doesn’t drain the chickpeas. This gives you the moisture you’re missing from the oil. I try to buy chickpeas that don’t have EDTA, since I don’t get to rinse it off!
    I use a Magic Bullet (and can commiserate with Glark, as I have no food processor). It usually turns out okay, but next time I’m going to follow your recipe and I’m quite sure it’ll be better.

  • http://www.choosy-beggars.com Tina

    Hey Nanco! A lot of people use water as a ‘thinner’ instead of oil (ha! Get my joke? Because it’s less fat? HA HA!! I know, I know…) but you really miss out on a lot of flavour. Olive oil is relatively good for you, and it imparts so much rich taste that I love it. Hey, what about a compromise? Reserve the chickpea liquid (as long as it is the clear liquid and not the goopy stuff that’s full of starch), only add 1 – 2 tbsp of olive oil, and then add the liquid as needed to get the right consistency?

  • Nanco

    That sounds like a good plan!
    I also have occasionally added some plain yogurt (just a little) and it’s been really good.

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  • Jason

    Tina, I’ve always made my hummus by pressing the canned chickpeas through a food mill to remove the ‘skin’ on the outside of the peas. The texture comes out far creamier than anything I can get in the store, but have never (I don’t know why) just pureed the peas with the skins on. Have you ever tried this and have you noticed a difference in texture from just dumping the rinsed chickpeas into the food processor?

    I also like to put a little labneh into my hummus for a little tartness and creamy texture.