A Middle Eastern favorite that has taken on global appeal in the last 20 years, hummus is a perfect party dip that you can shape to your own tastes. Add roasted red pepper, pumpkin, edamame, canned chipotles, avocado or onion to the mix. For garnishes, try black olives, pomegranate seeds, cilantro or basil leaves, or a dry, crumbly cheese like cotija.
“The Hurt Locker” Hummus
3 cups (about 1 1/2 pounds) dried garbanzo beans, picked over, soaked overnight in cold water and drained, or 6 cups canned garbanzo beans, drained, reserving the liquid
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided use
8 large garlic cloves, peeled
1 tablespoon salt, or more, to taste
1/2 cup tahini (see note)
Crushed red pepper, to taste (optional)
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Toasted pine nuts, for garnish
Chopped mint leaves, for garnish
Sumac, for garnish
Place the garbanzos in a pot of lightly salted water to cover by several inches. Bring to a boil over high heat. The beans will begin to foam within 5 to 10 minutes. Remove the foam with a skimmer and continue to cook, partially covered, until the beans are tender, 1 to 3 hours. Add boiling water to keep the garbanzos covered until they are soft. When done, remove 1 1/2 cups cooking water, then drain the rest. Return the beans to the cooking pot and, when cool enough to touch, remove the skins.
Process the garbanzos, 1/2 cup olive oil and 1 cup of the drained cooking water in a food processor until creamy.
Pound the garlic with 1 tablespoon salt until it is a creamy mush.
In a small bowl, mix the tahini, red pepper, if using, and lemon juice. If it is too thick, add water (not more lemon juice). Stir the tahini mixture into the garlic and salt. Stire this into the garbanzo mixture, adjust the salt, season with pepper. Check the consistency. If it is too thick, add some of the remaining cooking water until it is smooth.
Spoon hummus into a serving dish. Warm the remaining olive oil. Make a spiral or fan-shaped swirl in the hummus and fill with the warm olive oil. Garnish with toasted pine nuts around the edges and a sprinkling of chopped mint on top. Sprinkle sumac over the top of the whole. Serve with warm pita bread or pita chips.
Note: Tahini, a sesame seed paste, is available at many supermarkets, specialty grocers such as Central Market or Whole Foods, or at Middle Eastern markets.
Makes 6 servings.
Adapted from “Little Foods of the Mediterranean” by Clifford W. Wright