From Scratch: Homemade hummus is cheap and easy


Although hummus has been around since the time of the Crusades, this Middle Eastern bean spread seems to have hit the American market just a few years ago.

Those convenient little tubs I see in the supermarket are quite pricey, and of course, have preservatives added to extend their shelf life. With a few simple ingredients and a food processor, hummus is easy to make at home.

If you or your family are hummus devotees, give this recipe a try. It makes about 22 ounces for less than $2.

The beans: Start with one cup dried chickpeas (garbanzos). Buy any brand, but avoid unpackaged beans from a bin. They are usually not rotated efficiently, and you will end up with some beans that remain hard no matter how long you cook them. This is where the expression "tough beans" comes from.

Soak the chickpeas overnight or longer in water about two inches above the level of the beans.

You might be tempted to open up a couple of cans of chickpeas instead. Trust me. The flavor of the hummus will be far inferior if you use canned beans.

The next day, drain the beans and cover them with fresh water. Cook covered over medium heat for about 30 to 45 minutes or until you can squeeze one easily between your fingers. The cooking time depends on the freshness of the beans. Alternatively, you could use a pressure cooker.

Drain the beans, reserving the cooking liquid.

The next step may cause you to question my sanity. You can skip this step if you wish, but the finished product will not be as creamy. Here it is: peel the chickpeas.

Take each bean and pop off and discard the skin. Put on some music and get into the Zen of it. It's really not that bad. If you have young children, you might try to get them to do it.

Processing: Finally, add the ingredients to the food processor in the following order.

First, put in a garlic clove and process until it is finely chopped. The garlic flavor will intensify as it sits, so keep that in mind when considering whether to bump up the amount of garlic.

Next, add 3 tablespoons of tahini (this is sold in most major supermarkets) and the juice of 1½ lemons. Pulse for about 10 seconds.

Then add the chickpeas and one teaspoon salt.

With the processor running, slowly add some of the reserved bean liquid or cold water. Process until the mixture becomes light and creamy. You want it to be a little on the thin side as it will thicken a bit later.

To serve, mound the hummus in a bowl and make a little well in the center. Add a little olive oil in the well and sprinkle with paprika.

— Julie Falsetti, a York native, comes from a long line of good cooks. Her column, From Scratch, runs twice monthly in The York Dispatch food section.