I am not a classically trained chef. I am Lebanese.
In my family, we don’t eat to live – we live to eat. We cook food, so we can eat food, so we can talk about how good the food we just ate was. By the time we’re done doing all that talking, we’re usually ready to do more eating. It’s a vicious, delicious cycle.
I’m fairly confident that this food obsession among the Lebanese extends beyond my family. No word of a lie, there is a sweet old man at my gym named Albert who – as soon as he found out we’re both Lebanese – started talking my ear off about food. It’s usually a one way conversation that takes place on the mats where I stretch or do abs after working out.
“I had tabbouleh for lunch, but it didn’t hold me over so I had to cook up some kibbeh,” he’ll say. Or, “I want to get a pizza for dinner. You think I should get a pizza? I really should be good and have some salad with chicken, but a little pizza couldn’t hurt, right?”
I must have gotten a word in edgewise once because Albert was able to make the connection that he knows my uncle. This small world situation has kind of caused his ramblings to take an interesting turn. “I’ve seen your uncle eat pasta at (insert Italian restaurant name here). I’ve seen him eat stuffed grape leaves at (insert any Mediterranean restaurant name here). I’ve even seen him having dessert at (insert bakery of your choice right here).”
I have no idea how Albert knows my uncle. All I know is…Albert, this post is for you.
While there are many dishes one could classify as Lebanese, hummus is probably the most well-known. When I was a kid, hummus was that stuff on the table that you’d try to trick your sibling into thinking was peanut butter. Although hummus is tasty, it tastes nothing like peanut butter, which is why that stupid joke was so funny.
Somewhere along the way between childhood and my adult life, hummus became cool. It’s a very trendy food, probably because it’s so healthy and completely customizable. You want some roasted red pepper in your hummus? Have at it! Like a little extra lemon? Who’s stopping you? Got no one to make out with tonight? Go ahead and add an insane amount of garlic.
I messed around a lot in my kitchen before achieving my hummus-making goals. While this is a very basic recipe – in my humble opinion – it is the best.
Start by opening a can of chickpeas and running them under cool water in a colander. Let them hang out in the sink to drain while you gather the other ingredients, most of which you’ll probably already have on hand.
All you’ll need is some lemon juice, salt, garlic, olive oil and tahini. Did I throw you there with the tahini? Don’t be intimidated – it’s just paste made from sesame seeds – and your grocery store should stock it. Typically, tahini is located conveniently enough above the hummus selection. Don’t chicken out and put the pre-made stuff in your cart. You can do this.
Throw everything – all at once - into a blender or food processor and let ‘er rip!
I have found that good tools make all the difference here.
A high quality food processor or blender truly helps to get the smooth, creamy consistency we’re looking for. If your hummus is still a little thick or chunky after processing it, transfer everything to a bowl and whip it with a hand or stand mixer. An extra step, yes, but a worthwhile one.
Adapted from All Recipes
Yield: 3 cups
Prep Time: 5-10 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes
Total Time: 5-10 minutes
2 cups canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/3 cup tahini
1/4 cup lemon juice
3/4 tsp salt
2 cloves garlic, halved or minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
Place everything into the bowl of a food processor or blender. Blend until smooth. Transfer mixture to a serving bowl or keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to one week.
It’s so easy and affordable to make hummus at home. I promise once you whip up one batch you’ll never go back to store bought.
Oh, and I think Albert would approve.