Garbanzo bean. Chickpea. Ceci. What do these three little legumes have in common? Well, they all happen to be the same bean, and the star of the most perfect food in the world, HUMMUS!
Here’s what. I’ll bet you never made your own hummus. Probably because you think that it requires some involved set of skills that you don’t possess. Aha, this is not true! If you knew how simple it was, you would never buy that overpriced stuff in the little plastic tub that tastes ruefully of citric acid and cheap oils. All you need are a few inexpensive ingredients, usually ingredients that you always have on hand anyway, and you can whip up a batch in about ten minutes. The best part of hummus is that it is one of the healthiest things you can eat. High in protein and fiber, plump with good fats, it’s also a great bacterial stave because it requires a healthy dose of raw garlic.
Aren’t you convinced?
Here’s what you’ll need: About three cups of ceci, 1 1/2 lemons, a large garlic clove, olive oil, and tahini. Just what is tahini, anyway? Tahini is toasted, ground sesame seeds. This lovely paste is the ingredient that gives hummus its depth of character and unctuous mouth feel. You will also need your mortar and pestle, and a blender.
Now, I make my own ceci for my hummus, but you don’t have to. Canned are just fine. Just be sure to drain and rinse them before use. I also mortar my garlic because it tames the ‘burn’ that garlic can have when eaten raw. There is nothing worse than getting a chunk of garlic in a mouthful of hummus, so, if you can spare an extra 3 minutes, mortar your garlic before you add it to your legumes. If you really want to be lazy, and this, my friend, is ultimate laziness if you can't mortar a clove of garlic, then just toss the whole clove in the blender (when we get to that part), but this I do not recommend!
Let’s get started.
For all of you who have your canned beans ready, just hold your horses while I explain to the purists how to make ceci from dried legumes.
I’m taking a cup and a half of dried ceci and soaking them for 2 hours. It’s amazing how they double in size. Have a look.
Incidentally, 1.5 cups of dried ceci makes 5 cups of cooked. Compared to a can of ceci for about a buck, making your own will run about 30¢.
Drain the soaked ceci and rinse. Add to a pot, enough fresh water to amply cover, a couple of cloves of garlic and a fine dose of olive oil.
They take about 2.5 - 3 hours to cook, and should be very tender when done. No crunch. If the water runs low (like any bean, be sure they’re always fully submerged in water, no heads poking through the surface), just add more as they cook until they’re done.
Mortar your garlic. My monster clove yielded this much.
OK canned goods, feel free to jump back in. Get about 3 cups of ceci into the blender. This will make a good-sized batch.
If you made your own, put a spoonful of the ceci cooking liquid into the blender to make blending easier. If you are using canned, make sure you rinse your legumes before adding them to the blender, and pour in a little water to lubricate the process. Just a bit. Don’t use the liquid from the can. It’s generally too salty and kind of snotty and gross.
OK. Get your lemon-and-a-half ready, along with your tahini, a couple of heaping tablespoons. Mmmm. You might like your hummus more or less lemony, so, adjust according to taste. The same for the tahini. Adding more tahini will make for a richer tasting hummus.
Add the tahini, lemon, mortared garlic and a pinch of salt to the whole shebang.
Get a good dose of olive oil in there. And don't skimp. Mmmm, liquid sunshine.
Now blend. You will have to pulse in the beginning to get it going, and stir it about with a spatula (with the machine off, of course, unless you want bits of spatula in your hummus). But don’t be tempted to add more water or lemon until you finagle it a bit, or you will wind up with soupy hummus. This is what it looks like when you finally get the machine going. Nice, smooth, thick. Sometimes I like a thicker hummus so I can use it for sandwiches. In this case, I use a food processor and add more tahini, then stir in some parsley to make it attractive. Mmm!
You may have to stir it a few times through the whole process to get it going again. If it truly is too thick, add more olive oil, water, or lemon. Just taste first before you decide which one. You don’t want to indiscriminately add more lemon and make it too tart. If it’s tart enough, add more water and/or olive oil. When it’s smooth, taste for seasoning, correct with salt and olive oil. Et voila! Hummus.
I like to splash some olive oil over the top when serving it to guests. And a dusting of paprika is always pretty. Start to finish, this took about ten minutes. And look how much it yields. All in all, this giant batch cost me about 90¢ because I made my own ceci, and it's infinitely better tasting to boot!
Mangia bene, vivi felice!