Sunday, April 19, 2015

Chicago-inspired hummus

I've written about hummus (hummos?) before, and how it's usually non Middle Eastern people who take really creative spins on the dish because it's almost too sacrilegious for us to stray far from our traditional recipes.

Well, today this Middle Easterner is going to share with you a really insane twist on the classic, which is inspired by Chicago and Greek flavors. Full disclosure: I didn't come up with this combination. (I told you, we just can't mess with our hummos!) But after trying it at a work party I was absolutely blown away by it. So much so that it's now become my go-to dish to bring to gatherings.

The "recipe" itself is incredibly simple and has only 3 main components: hummus, feta cheese, oil-packed giardiniera (which apparently only exists in Illinois and a handful of Midwestern states).

First spread a layer of hummus on a dish or platter (I used a 9" pie plate here). Then cover with a few spoonfuls of giardiniera (drained), and top with crumbed feta cheese (hand-crumble the fresh kind instead of using prepacked crumbled feta; you'll not only save a few $ but the feta won't be quite as dry)

If you want to throw this dish together in record time just go ahead and use some pre-made hummus (my favorites are Trader Joes Mediterranean hummus and Sabra). But if you have a few extra minutes to spare I'd recommend making the hummus yourself to elevates this appetizer to a whole 'nother level!

I've shared my recipe for hummus using canned chickpeas, which is extra creamy if you take the time to remove the annoying skins on each individual pea. But today I'll share my recipe for hummus using dried chick peas, which is naturally super silky smooth!

Yours in breaking out of her people's comfort zone,

Basic hummus, adapted from the Jerusalem cookbook

Warning: this recipe requires you to soak the chickpeas the night before. So don't forget to start this the evening before! :)

As I've said before, hummus is a recipe that needs to be tailored to personal tastes. Use the cooking method I'm describing below, but feel free to modify the amounts of lemon juice, tahini, and garlic based upon what you like. Personally, I love lemon and I'm not a big fan of sesame in general. So I bumped up the citrus by 2 TBSP and reduced the tahini by half from the original recipe. I also cut the garlic by half, because I find that raw garlic can easily overpower hummus (especially after you let the dish sit in the fridge for a while; the flavors become much more pronounced). But if you're a garlic- and tahini-loving fiend, then by all means just keep adding until you're happy with the finished product!

1 1/4 cups (250 g) dried chickpeas
1 tsp baking soda
6 1/2 cups (1.5 L) water
1/2 cup tahini paste
6 TBSP fresh lemon juice
2 small/medium cloves of garlic
1.5 tsp salt
up to 6 1/2 TBSP (100 mL) ice-cold water

  1. The night before, put the chickpeas in a large bowl and cover with at least twice their volume in cold water. Leave to soak overnight on the counter.
  2. The next day, drain the chickpeas. Place a medium saucepan over high heat and add the drained chickpeas and baking soda. Cook for about 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the water and bring to boil. Cook, skimming off any foam and any skins that float to the surface. 
  3. Cook the chickpeas for 20 - 40 minutes (or longer; the cooking time will depend on the type and freshness of your pea). Once done they should be very tender, breaking up easily when pressed between your fingers but not super mushy. Drain the chickpeas when they're finished cooking.
  4. Place the chickpeas in a food processor and process until you get a stiff paste. With the machine still running, add the tahini paste, lemon juice, garlic, and salt. If your hummus needs to be thinned out a bit more, add some or all of the ice-cold water and process for about 5 minutes, until your hummus is smooth and creamy.
  5. Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let it rest for at least 30 minutes.


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