Toyonaka “I’m in Israel!” These are the words that happily ran through my mind as our plane touched down in
Tel Aviv last month. I kept pinching myself and telling myself that it was true … I was in Israel. This was my fourth journey to this beautiful country. My first trip was in 1974; ten years later I attended my nephew’s Bar Mitzvah; I returned with Sister Susan for a group tour in 2000; and now I was finally back. For such an ancient country, I felt surprised to see how much things had changed in the decade since my previous visit. I noticed way more shops and a lot more technology – basically everything seemed more modern. Thankfully – one thing seems to remain the same…hummus. One of my favorite things to eat, it remains a ubiquitous food in Israel. And it is goooooood.
Call me a bean lover and a huge hummus fan. Chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans) serve as a kitchen staple in my global kitchen. These beans are used throughout the Mediterranean areas of the world and I’ve learned to include them in all kinds of ways. I cook them fresh and have some frozen in small quantities for added protein in salads, soups, and even main dishes.
While I typically don’t like to boast, I’ll pit my version of hummus against almost anyone else’s. My recipe is adopted from Cooks Illustrated magazine – though I changed quantities and added my own twist. I begin with dried garbanzo beans, although canned beans are OK if you aren’t into cooking beans. After I soak and simmer the garbanzos, I combine them with freshly squeezed lime juice. Most recipes list lemon juice as an ingredient but I have to be different, and I always have a bag of limes in my refrigerator. My little “twist”, or signature, involves the addition of smoked paprika – a spice I simply adore. It adds another dimension to hummus – not readily identifiable to most – but it infuses a complexity to the final dish.
I use the savory spread to build a vegetable sandwich where I layer slivers of colorful peppers, thinly sliced cucumber, some pickled onions, shredded carrot, arugula … just typing this makes my mouth water. Or I serve hummus as a dip with blanched or raw vegetables, snow peas, carrot slices, and pita bread or even my seeded crackers. Hummus freezes for up to six months so when my mission is to prepare hummus, I do it in a big way and freeze a few pint containers. Yes, I know you can buy hummus at Costco, Trader Joes or most grocery stores in the US, but try making it just once. You might discover, as I did, that it is easy to prepare and way better than anything you can buy.
- ¼ cup juice from the garbanzo beans (if you make your own) OR ¼ cup water if from a can
- ⅓ cup fresh lime juice
- ⅓ cup tahini, stirred well (I use Joyva brand)
- 2 Tbsp organic extra virgin olive oil PLUS some to drizzle on top and garnish
- 14 oz can of drained, rinsed garbanzo beans OR 2 cups freshly cooked beans
- 1 clove garlic, cut into 4 pieces
- 1 tsp fine sea salt
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- pinch cayenne pepper
Combine lime juice and water (or bean juice if using homemade beans) in small bowl.
Whisk together tahini and the olive oil in second small bowl. It takes a bit of elbow grease to combine.
In a food processor, pulse beans, garlic, salt, smoked paprika, and cayenne. After it is chopped a bit whirl them together for about 15 more seconds. Scrape the sides of the work bowl with a rubber spatula. With the food processor running, add lime juice-water mixture in a steady stream through the feed tube. Scrape down the work bowl and keep processing for another 60 seconds.
With the machine running, add oil-tahini mixture in steady stream through feed tube; continue to whirl until the hummus is smooth and creamy, about 15 seconds, scraping down bowl as needed.
Taste the mixture and add more lime juice or salt as needed. Personally, I always add a lot more lime juice and a little more salt too. Put the hummus into a storage container and seal it, and store it in the refrigerator for at least an hour. I like to serve this at room temperature so take it out of the fridge in plenty of time. Drizzle generously with olive oil and serve.
This keeps really well in the freezer for up to 2 months and in the refrigerator for at least a week well covered.