Homemade hummus is a delicious, nutritious thing. My daughter Dahlia will wolf down a remarkable amount, radishes being her preferred delivery vehicle (well, after fingers that is, but I try to discourage this practice for politeness' sake even if I really couldn't care less).
For years, I made my hummus with canned chickpeas (the fancy, organic ones of course) boosted by loads of raw garlic, lemon, and cumin. And truthfully, the results were pretty good…certainly better than anything store-bought. But I knew I was cutting corners by not cooking my own chickpeas from scratch, and once I made the switch I really was rewarded with better (much better, as in worth the fuss better) hummus in the end.
The first few times I went full-monty, peeling each. And. Every. Chickpea. One by one. You can imagine how tedious a task that is—akin to peeling fava beans. A real labor of love that, I must admit, yields the most exceptionally silky, luscious hummus ever. Pureeing canned chickpeas is obviously the easiest route; peeling individual home-cooked chickpeas is hands-down the most arduous. I’ve come to a sort of middle ground—I split the difference, peeling until I basically get bored. Or not peeling at all. Homemade hummus with freshly cooked chickpeas is better whether you peel them or not - just to a different degree of yum.
But now that I’ve got my own personal version of the process down, I’ve realized that I generally end up making too much homemade hummus for my household of three to finish. In fact, that’s often the case with me and dried beans—I get so excited about having perfectly creamy, starchy beans that I just dump the whole bag’s worth into the pot (they look so little when they’re uncooked.)
I needed to rethink my habitual tendency: instead of soaking and cooking a whole pound of dry chickpeas, why not just soak and cook a cup’s worth? With a smaller quantity of cooked chickpeas, I could puree them with my mini food processor…and I’m more likely to peel my way through a higher percentage of the lil’ legumes. And at the end of the whole hoopla, I have a perfect amount of homemade hummus—a generous, but totally finish-able portion.
Hummus is a lovely summer-weekend-away goodie; of course it’s great with toasted pita and crunchy fresh veggies, but it’s also wonderful alongside that leg of lamb you might be planning on grilling. I’d even consider smearing it on my hamburger bun for something a little different. If you do serve it as a “dip”, be sure and go with the traditional presentation—instead of spooning it into a bowl, spread it on a plate so that you can get a well-seasoned bite every time. Don’t be tentative with the olive oil, and if you can take some kick, a good amount of cayenne is mouth-tinglingly delicious.
Whatever you decide to do with it, you’ll be amazed at how decadent a properly made homemade hummus can be.
Makes about 2 cups
1 cup dry chickpeas, soaked overnight
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon kosher salt, more as needed
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, more as needed
3 tablespoons tahini
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1/8 teaspoon ground cumin, more as needed
Coarse sea salt, as needed
Radishes, fennel, cucumbers, crisp pita bread, for dipping
1. Drain the chickpeas. Combine chickpeas, 6 cups water, bay leaf, and a very large pinch of salt. Simmer chickpeas, skimming off any foam from the surface, until they are very tender, about 1 hour. Drain, reserving cooking liquid. If you feel like peeling the chickpeas while they are still warm and feel good pressed in between your fingers, go ahead. Or skip it and don't bother. It's great either way.
2. In a food processor, combine chickpeas (try to do this while they are still warm, they will be grind into a smoother hummus if you do, or reheat before pureeing), 1/2 cup cooking liquid (also warm is good here), 1/3 cup oil, tahini, lemon juice, salt, garlic, and cumin until smooth. Add more cooking liquid if you like a thinner hummus.
3. Spread hummus on a plate. Drizzle liberally with oil and season with coarse salt, cumin, and cayenne, if desired. Serve with veggies or pita bread.