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After writing about my experiments with vegan and plant based foods here, I’m going to really try to focus on those types of recipes this summer. Rather than trying to adapt traditional meat or dairy rich foods, I am going to choose traditionally plant based recipes, like this hummus. This is a very easy and basic recipe that can be spiced up once you get the original version right.
Hummus is one of those go-to foods that I start craving when the sun comes out. The weather finally seems to be improving here in Ireland, so I whipped up a batch of this hummus to keep me going for a few days. Since I’ve discovered these jarred chickpeas, I have been completely converted.
These large jars are roughly the equivalent of 2 normal sized cans, and they have very little liquid in them so they are packed tightly. For this recipe, it’s a good idea to still rinse the chickpeas under the tap anyway to remove some of the goopy liquid. They are the closest I’ve found to homemade (i.e. from scratch) cooked chickpeas and you don’t need to plan a day in advance if you have a few jars of these in the cupboard. They might seem more expensive, but remember they are actually great value by weight! I’ve seen them for sale in Marks and Spencer, as well as in smaller speciality shops like Fallon and Byrne and Lotts and Co.
And yes, your eyes do not deceive you, that is a gigantic 3kg tub of tahini in the photo! I ordered it in a moment of madness, but it is actually really good value and will keep me going for a LONG time! Besides, you can never have enough tahini in the house…
This hummus will keep in the fridge for at least 2 or 3 days. Drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil on top to prevent from it drying out. I like to garnish it with a pinch of sumac, a tart, almost citrusy spice that you can find in good delis and Middle Eastern shops. A little goes a long way and it looks so pretty scattered over the top. If you have a food processor, use that. Otherwise a jug blender will work well, but you may need to scrape down the sides a bit more and blend for longer to achieve the same consistency. Be patient – it’s worth the extra effort!
1 x 660g jar or 2 x 400g tins of chickpeas (Spanish or Italian brands seem to be the smoothest in my experience)
juice of 1 large or 2 small lemons
1 large or 2 small cloves of garlic
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp sea salt
3-4 tbsp light tahini, according to taste
3-4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
pinch of sumac to garnish (optional)
extra virgin olive oil to drizzle
In a sieve or colander, rinse the chickpeas under the tap to get rid of the starchy, goopy liquid.
In a food processor or blender, add the rinsed chickpeas, garlic, cumin, sea salt and 3 tablespoons each of the olive oil, lemon juice and tahini.
This recipe is completely adjustable according to your own tastes, so if you prefer a really garlicky or lemony hummus, add as much or as little as you like. But I’d advise you to add it slowly and see how it tastes rather than dumping it all in at the beginning. Depending on the quality of your chickpeas, you may also need to add a few tablespoons of water as well. But add it carefully – a tablespoon at a time! If you find you’ve added too much, a bit of extra tahini usually helps to thicken it up again.
I have also found that the secret to super smooth hummus is to blend for longer than you normally would. This will probably warm up the hummus slightly, but you can always chill it in the fridge if you prefer to serve it cold.
This hummus travels well for a packed lunch or picnic. I love to scoop it up with toasted pita bread, sliced carrots and peppers, and more controversially, slices of apple! It also works really well in sandwiches or salads, or as part of a large platter of party food.
Once you get the hang of it and see how ridiculously easy it is, you’ll wonder why you ever bothered to buy overpriced hummus in a tub! You can add Greek yogurt for a creamier dip, although it will not keep as well in the fridge. You can also add roasted red peppers – the ones you find preserved in oil are best. Or roasted beetroot, sweet potato, red onion, sun dried tomato – the possibilities are endless!