Embellished Hummus

June 30, 2022

I wasn’t expecting to have so many requests for my staple hummus recipe when I posted on stories today. I kind of assumed that most of us have a back pocket hummus recipe, because it’s one of those true staples that seems like second nature to me, which can be dressed up, or down, depending on the season, your mood, and what you have in your pantry. More than anything, it’s a crowd pleaser. Once again, the humble hummus regains its rightful place on the throne of foods-we-need-to-continue-making.

I tend to use jarred chickpeas in water, purely for convenience, but this recipe works well if you have the time to cook the chickpeas in their dried form. However, having a jar in the pantry does mean that you can make a batch in minutes.

Traditionally hummus in the Middle East isn’t flavoured, but for me, there are so many possibilities to dress it up and turn it into something really special, which can be served as a great tartine (an open-faced) sandwich on griddled sourdough bread, but it’s also lovely with a plate of raw seasonal vegetables (I love cucumber, cherry tomatoes, kohlrabi, radishes, etc). The next day I might eat it with some slow-roasted summer vegetables (think finger-sized whole peppers, baby courgettes, tomatoes) flecked with plenty of fresh marjoram, basil and mint from the garden.

The key to making a good hummus is the quality of the tahini. Try to find high quality tahini from natural food stores or even better, markets specialising in Middle Eastern ingredients. I buy large pots of Lebanese tahini paste, which has a thinner consistency and without the clagginess other tahini’s can sometimes have.

If you decide to cook your own chickpeas from dried, bear in mind it takes about 1 cup (140g) of dried chickpeas to make 2 cups (350g) of cooked. Rinse the chickpeas well and cook them in plenty of water, replenishing if necessary. I also like to add a strip of kombu seaweed to the pan when I am cooking pulses, which helps make them more digestible, and half a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda to help soften them. Ensure you cook the chickpeas until they are really soft.

For a very smooth, whippy hummus, I recommend a tip I picked up from Ottolenghi, who adds ice cubes at the end of the blending time. This really does make the dreamiest textured hummus, so I encourage you not to skip this step, and you will soon be on your way to the creamiest dreamiest hummus that ever did exist.

The world’s your oyster when it comes to embellishments, but for this version I used pomegranate arils, chopped pistachios, freshly chopped parsley, sumac, a drizzle of cold pressed olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice. Other great options include; za’atar, finely chopped preserved lemon (or capers), fresh thyme and marjoram, rose harissa, other chopped toasted nuts (such as hazelnuts or pine nuts) or toasted pumpkin seeds, chopped cured black olives or sun-dried tomatoes, marinated artichokes, or mushrooms – the possibilities are endless… Have some fun and create your own embellishments.

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Embellished Hummus


Ingredients

Scale

For the hummus:

1 jar (300g drained weight) chickpeas in water, rinsed well

1/2 cup (120 g) tahini paste

2 tbsp cold pressed olive oil

Juice & of 2 organic lemons & finely grated zest of 1

1 garlic clove (or more if you like it garlicky), peeled & minced

1 tsp sea salt or pink Himalayan salt

3 ice cubes

1/8 tsp chilli flakes (optional)

For the embellishments:

1 tbsp unsalted, shelled pistachios, coarsely chopped

3 tbsp pomegranate arils (about 1/4 pomegranate, arils removed)

1 tbsp parsley leaves, finely chopped

Sprinkle of ground sumac*

Drizzle of cold pressed olive oil

Good squeeze of lemon juice


Instructions

Add the chickpeas, tahini paste, olive oil, garlic, salt, chilli flakes (if using), lemon juice and zest to an upright blender or food processor. Blitz until smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides a couple of times to ensure everything is well-incorporated.

For the final blitz, pour in 4-6 tablespoons of ice cold water (depending how thick you would like it). Blitz briefly for a few seconds until the hummus is light and whippy.

Spoon the hummus into a serving bowl (if not serving straight away, store in a sealed container in the refrigerator).  Sprinkle over the pomegranate arils, chopped pistachios and parsley. Sprinkle over the sumac and drizzle with some extra cold pressed olive oil.

Leftover hummus can be stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.


Notes

*Ground sumac is widely available in Middle Eastern markets. It has a tangy, lemony flavour and has long been used in Europe to add tartness to many dishes.

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