February 5, 2010
Take it slow: Make Hummus
It makes me think of how, back in the days of cooking by the hearth, women used to spend one day of the week doing all the baking, another doing the washing, etc. Most of what I know about that probably comes from reading the Little House books and visiting Old Sturbridge Village when I was young. I do know that in these modern times, we have choices. There are stores with aisles and aisles of food that could sustain us and we would never have to think about turning on the oven or dirtying a dish. But that, of course, is not the choice I make.
Most of the time, I want to be connected to my food as deeply as possible. I'm not sure why as cooking and eating is a constant cycle and things that are edible are also usually perishable. It must be this life cycle and the need to be a creative part of it that fuels my desire to be connected with what I eat. There are many ways to do this and I look forward to the day that I can also grow the ingredients for the food I prepare. For now, though, I find small ways to take part in the life of eating.
I make hummus nearly every week. Mostly I make it because Ray really likes it for lunch and its something I can make instead of buy that he will enjoy. It is a great staple food to have in the fridge for snacks or meals. If you don't make a lot of things from scratch, this is a good place to start and its a small, really simple way to shift from buying to making. In a culture that is full of the ready made and an obsession with instant gratification, its empowering to know that you can create something yourself, rather than having to pay for it. I believe it is important for everyone to make this shift in some way, whether by knitting, quilting, playing a board game instead of going to the mall, or, well, you could try making hummus!
I make this in a food processor but I am sure you could make it by mashing the chickpeas and stirring everything together, it just might not be as smooth. If you are doing it by hand, make sure to finely chop the garlic and cilantro and then experiment with mixing it to a consistency that you like. You can use canned chickpeas, but I usually use dried ones which I soak in water overnight and then cook in their soaking water. I bring them to a boil and then simmer for a couple of hours until they are soft. You can also let them boil for about five minutes, turn of the heat and leave them covered while you are at work, they should be almost totally cooked when you get home.
2-cups cooked chickpeas (see above), with some of the cooking liquid (if you are using canned chickpeas you can use water as the liquid, if needed
1/2 cup tahini, or to taste
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled, or more to your taste
Juice of 1 lemon, or to taste
Salt and pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin, paprika or other spices to your taste
1/4 cup chopped parsley or cilantro
As you can see, all ingredient amounts can be changed or modified according to your taste. You can also add fresh spinach, roasted red peppers, roasted garlic or other ingredients and flavors. But to make this basic recipe: Put all of the ingredients in the food processor. Process for a minute or two. Taste and adjust flavors as desired. For a looser consistency add the cooking liquid. For a very smooth consistency, continue to process for 2 or 3 more minutes. Serve with bread, crackers, veggies or whatever you would like. Store refrigerated in an airtight container for up to a week.