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Sunday, April 24, 2011

~Hummus a Little Tune~ chickpeas, sesame, roasted garlic, lemon... music to my ears!

Some of my favorite things about spring:  the birds, the new buds on the trees, the voices of people back in the down town, the clink of bat and ball at the baseball fields, and the anticipation of the Walla Walla Farmers' Market.  I thought I'd get ahead of the market with a version of one of my favorite things available there:

~Roasted Garlic & Sun dried Tomato Hummus~

1/4 Cup Tahini
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup of dried chickpeas (prepared as here)
1 teaspoon flake salt
White/Pink Pepper
1 Medium bulb roasted garlic
2 Tablespoons chopped sun-dried tomato
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon Sweet paprika
Ground Sumac ~OR~ Sweet Paprika & Olive oil (for topping)

2C toasted sesame seeds
1 C Vegetable oil
1/4 C Olive oil
1/4 C Roasted sesame oil
pinch salt

SPECIAL TOOLS: Food Processor
                              Large Cook Pot

Yield: about 2.5 Cups 

For this recipe, let me introduce the star of the show right off:

Chickpeas!  These little guys are full of all kinds of goodness like iron, calcium, phosphorus, manganese, vitamin B6, folate, thiamine...  all things our bodies need for things from blood cleansing to boosting mental acuity!  But to get into these little wonders, you'll need to coax them out of their shells, or skins as the case may be:

For any recipe using chickpeas, I can't bring myself to use canned.  Any part of a recipe you can prepare at home always makes for a better end product.

Rinse 1C dried chickpeas in cold water to remove any dirt or dust.  You may want to sift through the chickpeas one time just to be sure there are no chickpea-sized stones... only takes one to ruin your day. 

Put the peas in a large pot and add just enough water to cover them with at least 1" of liquid.  Cover the pot and let them sit to soak overnight, at least 8 hours.  Just like anything, the trick for good hummus is PREPARATION.  

Now that the chickpeas are soaking away, prepare the tahini.  If you're going to use canned tahini skim ahead if you like.  Here is my recipe:

Tahini is very basic but I like to mix the recipe up just a bit.  Often there are only 2 ingredients, olive oil and toasted sesame seeds, but for hummus I choose to make a mixture of olive, vegetable and sesame oils for better flavor balance.  Pure olive oil is fine sometimes but with an almost 1:1 oil:seeds ratio here, it can lend a far too bitter taste and drown out the sesame nuttiness to some extent. 

In a food processor (NOT a standard blender as you'll end up spending all day scraping the sides) combine sesame seeds, salt, and 1 C oil.  Pulse a few times then turn on the blades and drizzle in the remaining oil, blending further until you have a nice smooth paste.  Place your tahini in the fridge overnight while the chickpeas soak.  The time relaxing in the cold also helps to bring up the flavors!

In the morning check out the chickpeas!  Overnight they've soaked up their original weight in water and swollen to double in size but they're still not quite done.  They still need to be cooked and skinned...  but not yet!

Before you get the chickpeas going, start preparing the garlic.  Preheat your oven to 350f.

With a very sharp knife cut the top from a medium garlic bulb, just enough to expose most of the cloves.  Place the bulb in an oven safe dish and drizzle with a small amount of olive oil then cover with foil and rest 20 minutes.  Roast your garlic for 45 minutes to an hour at 350f.

Once the garlic is in the oven roasting, get the beans cooking!

Rinse the peas in cold water to remove any excess starch and residue then add enough water to cover them.  Bring the whole lot to a simmer and cook for one hour, skimming the starchy foam from the surface of the boiling water as you go.
When the beans cook, some of the starch is cooked out of the flesh and skins and floats to the surface.  if its not removed it can lend a gummy texture to the end product... no thanks...

When all is said and done, remove the garlic from the oven and rinse the peas well in cool water one final time.  While the garlic cools at room temp, take the time to carefully remove the skins from the peas.

This can seem tedious but it is very much key to getting a smooth, delicious hummus.  Put on a CD, set yourself in front of the sink and get to work.  It's worth the effort!
Once you've got the skins off, toss the peas in a clean bowl and set them aside for now.

Finally ready to get to the actual Hummus part of this *whew*

Start by tossing tahini, 2 tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper, lemon juice, and flavor elements (in this case sun dried tomato and roasted garlic) into the bowl of a food processor.  Again you should NOT use a blender for this.  The tiny, tapering bowl optimized blades just cant get the paste ground fine enough for that elusive creaminess we're after.

Turn on the machine and blend until you have a pretty uniform mixture, taking the time to stop and scrape the sides of the bowl now and again.  Once you've achieved an even mix you're happy with, turn the machine off.  Add a small hand full of beans to the bowl and blend to a thin paste, then scrape down the sides and add the remainder.  Blend until combined thoroughly, adding water, more olive oil, or lemon juice as needed to achieve the texture you're seeking. 

~~Ingredient Spot~~

Although you can top your hummus with almost anything like pistachio, black salt, white pepper, olive oil, paprika, cumin or a host of other things, traditionally (and in this recipe of course) it is topped with a small amount of olive oil and a spice called Sumac Powder or Σουμάκι (soo-MAH-kee.)  Sumac (deriving its name from the Aramaic word "summaq" meaning "dark red") spice is ground seedpods of the Rhus Coriaria sumac plant and has a very sour but earthy lemon flavor.  Although there is no true substitute for sumac powder, the color of sweet paprika is a good match and the lemony flavor can come from simple lemon juice or zest.

~~Ingredient Spot~~

There it is!  A truly creamy, delicious hummus with all the good stuff!  Whether it's sun dried tomato, garlic, pistachio, tahini, sumac, key lime, almond, mint and yoghurt, eggplant, dill, cucumber... whatever flavors you might choose hummus offers two guarantees: Delicious AND good for you!  how often do you really find that in recipes?  Try it and I bet you'll like what you get!  Keep on experimenting everyone!



yummy supper said...

Cam, what a fantastic recipe! You offer so much more than the standard recipe I usually use for quick lazy hummus. Love the tips on the homemade Tahini and the roasted garlic and sundried tomato are inspired touches. Makes me so hungry!
Love you,

Unknown said...

Hey Cam!
Told you I'd find the blog. Love it! Can't wait till I have some time to read and catch up on some of your older posts! - Bethany (from Home Depot ;))

Unknown said...

Excellent recipe!!