Friday, May 3, 2013


A few years ago I couldn't have told you what hummus was. Now rarely a week goes by that I don't eat some. The first few times I tried it I was not overly impressed. Now I get hankerings where I just have to have it. 1001 Foods You Must Taste Before You Die (Frances Case, pg. 729) notes that hummus is of Middle Eastern origin and consists of mashed or pureed chickpeas (also known as garbanzo beans) flavored with tahini, garlic, lemon juice, salt and often olive oil. Although it is generally spelled "hummus" in the U.S., an Arabic word meaning "chickpeas," I have seen other spelling variations including hommus and in British English it is "houmous." When I have had hummus in Middle Eastern style restaurants the hummus usually has olive oil liberally added to it on top. 
Hummus at Taim in Greenwich Village
Hummus at King O Falafel in Kissimmee, Florida
Hummus at Green Gables Cafe in Coral Gables, Florida
Hummus at Mediterranean Grill in Redlands
 I looked up a number of traditional recipes and they all contain the ingredients set forth above. For two 15 or 16 oz. cans of garbanzo beans, you add 3 tablespoons to 3 full lemons worth of lemon juice, 1 1/2 tablespoons to 1 cup of tahini, 2 or 3 cloves of crushed garlic, 2 tablespoons to 1 cup of olive oil and 1/2 to 3/4 of a teaspoon of salt. One of the ingredients, tahini, is itself one of the 1001 Foods, and is made from sesame seeds soaked in water and then crushed. The crushed seeds are soaked again, in salt water. The bran sinks and the floating kernals are skimmed off, toasted and then ground into a paste. 

I am finding more and more variations of hummus. I find hummus made out of various kinds of nuts, including macadamia nuts, walnuts and almonds. The ground nuts replace the tahini (which of course is ground sesame seeds). I did a post recently on incredible macadamia nut hummus at Cafe 118 Degrees in Winter Park Florida.
Macadamia Nut Hummus at Cafe 118 Degrees in Winter Park, Florida
Several recipes I find for it on-line call for one part of macadamia nuts to four parts of chickpeas. Recipes for walnut hummus have a similar ratio of walnuts to chickpeas and walnut oil instead of olive oil. I have also had hummus with various kinds of vegetables, including red pepper hummus, zucchini cilantro hummus, garlic hummus and kalamata olive hummus. 
Greek Olive Hummus by Sabra
Recipes for these types of hummus usually add the vegetable ingredients along with the traditional ingredients, but some, such as a zucchini cilantro hummus omit the chickpeas, and some, such as a garlic hummus, omit the tahini.  Other variations replace the chickpeas with other types of beans or peas, such as black eyed pea hummus and edamame hummus. These variations make a great thing even more fun. 
Cilantro and Jalapeno Hummus from Trader Joe's
I've been making some of my own variations of hummus. My first try at nut hummus was walnut hummus. I did it without any reference to existing recipes and made a number of errors. First, I didn't soak the walnuts, and second, it was mostly walnuts without any chick peas or tahini. It was extremely difficult to get it to blend and it was very strong and pasty.
Walnut Hummus
Next I tried pecan hummus. I used 2 cups pecans, but this time I soaked them, 2 cups of canned chickpeas, 1 tablespoon of squeezed lemon juice, 3 tablespoons of chicken broth, 1 teaspoon of garlic and 3/4 tablespoon of salt. It was heavy on the salt, but had a nice flavor. 
Pecan Hummus
Then I used a variation of the same recipe. I soaked 2 cups of roasted macadamia nuts, 2 cups of chickpeas, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, 3 tablespoons of chicken broth, 10 leaves of fresh basil, and 1/2 a teaspoon of salt. I found that it was too bland, so I scooped about 3/4ths of the mixture into a separate bowl, and mashed about 4 small avocados into it, with some additional sea salt. It was much better. Then I heated up some olive oil in the microwave, infused it with a fairly significant amount of cayenne pepper and some salt, and poured the mixture over the macadamia nut, avocado hummus. This was a dish I served on Mother's Day and it was fantastic. Probably not as good as what I had in Florida, but it was well-liked by Judy.
Macadamia Nut Avocado Hummus with Cayenne Pepper Infused Olive Oil

1 comment:

  1. Mmmmmm. Gotta have some. The one from Mediterranean Grill looks good. Do the serve breakfast?