Impatience plays a big role in my life, in terms of my eating habits. Like this weekend, when I made hummus.
Sometimes, when you wake up early in the morning on Saturday with loads of free time ahead of you, you feel like planning a big menu and spending the day in the kitchen. Other times, you’d just as soon eat cereal rather than putting in any actual effort. But that’s not always the healthiest option.
A quick and easy bean spread like this one is just the thing, full of savory flavor, and packed with nutrients and fiber that you need to get through the day.
I don’t remember the first time I had hummus, but I can almost guarantee I didn’t like it, not right away at least. I’m sensitive to certain textures and flavors, and to me, hummus is different than other appetizer-like spreads.
It’s not dairy-based and made with something like cream cheese or sour cream, and it’s not exactly a dip, but more of a spread, at least the way I like it. But it is still creamy, and it can be super satisfying.
Made with chickpeas, hummus originates in the Middle East. It’s the kind of thing you’re sure to find at hookah bars and specialty grocers or, if I remember right, that tiny Arabic kebab place I stopped in one time where the owner gave me free falafel, because I told him I’d had it before, and he said his would be better.
Today, hummus has become so popular that you can find it just about anywhere, at farmers markets and lining the shelves of your local grocery store.
Over the past few weeks, after repeatedly seeing it and hearing about it in so many places, I finally caved. On Friday night, I rushed straight from the office to the store, in search of a can of chickpeas.
With near-instant gratification in mind (I had lots of things I wanted to do this weekend!) I whipped up a big batch, and I wasn’t disappointed. Whether you’re using fresh or dried herbs, adding a dollop of store-bought roasted garlic from a jar or making your own from scratch, you won’t be, either.
A Note on the Beans
Let me cover two things about canned chickpeas before we go any further:
1. Apparently, there are people who will say you are committing hummus sacrilege when you use canned chickpeas instead of dried. If you are one such person, I promise, I am not out to ruin the hummus experience for you.
Others even painstakingly peel every skin from every single bean before dropping it into the food processor. I am not one of these people, and I don’t think my resulting creations suffer as a result. I’ll let you be the judge.
2. Chickpeas are garbanzo beans. Garbanzo beans are chickpeas.
Though different cultivars of Cicer arietinum do exist, with some being larger and others on the smaller side, these all come from the same species of plant. You may also hear them referred to as gram, or Egyptian peas. This was something I did not know until recently.
Texture and Flavor: Find Your Fit
Since my very first taste, way back when, one of the defining characteristics of this spread stands out to be above the rest: texture.
The kind that I prefer is creamy and thick; it’s stable enough to hold its shape when you dollop a bit onto your plate, like mortar that you would spread on bricks, smooth and sturdy and substantial.
I like it best slathered on hot, buttered pita, its cool paste-like consistency dissolving on my tongue.
Others might like it a bit thinner, made with a few extra glugs of olive oil, or chunky with whole chickpeas thrown in for garnish before serving.
Personally, I like cold hummus. But if you like yours hot, by all means, give it a quick pop in the microwave or heat it up on the stove at the end. A drizzle of melted butter on top provides an extra-decadent experience.
In terms of flavor, there are nearly endless taste variations out there. The garbanzos themselves are sort of a blank canvas, just begging for the addition of herbs and spices.
This particular recipe stands out because it doesn’t use tahini. I know purists may deem this unorthodox choice to be a deal breaker, but there are some eaters out there who don’t like the somewhat bitter taste of sesame seed paste, and others who are allergic. Maybe this is why I wasn’t a fan of the first version that I tried.
In my case, I didn’t want to buy a whole bottle of tahini for just one recipe (though I could use the rest of it to make banana smoothies!), so I used what I had and still managed to make something delicious. For this version, I’ve left it out, but you can feel free to add a tablespoon or two to taste if you like.
Also, this is garlic hummus, and I am a firm believer that most foods are improved with a little garlic thrown in. A few pinches of fresh oregano adds a lovely herbal Mediterranean flavor.
So, here’s what I recommend: start with the basics, then do a bit of exploring and make it your own. I hope you land on a favorite soon, and that you make this recipe regularly.Print
Roasted garlic adds depth to traditional chickpea hummus, plus fresh oregano, lemon, and a dash of cayenne to make this homemade dip extra special.
For the Roasted Garlic:
- 1 head garlic
- 1 tsp olive oil
For the Hummus:
- 1 15-oz. can chickpeas
- 2 tablespoons minced roasted garlic
- 1–2 tablespoons tahini (optional)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon fresh oregano leaves (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
- ½ teaspoon salt (or more, to taste)
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
To Make the Roasted Garlic:
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Using a sharp knife, slice off the top of the head of the garlic. Drizzle with olive oil, rubbing the oil into the exposed clove tops. Wrap tightly with aluminum foil.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes, until cloves feel soft when pressed. Remove from the oven, open the foil packet, and allow to cool. Reserve 2-3 cloves for this recipe, and save the rest for other uses.
To Make the Hummus:
- In a food processor, process the chickpeas, garlic, tahini if you choose to include it, olive oil, lemon juice, oregano, salt, and cayenne (if using) until it reaches the desired consistency.
- If hummus is too thick, simply add olive oil in small increments 1/2 teaspoon at a time, and pulse to mix. Adjust seasoning to taste.
Cooking By the Numbers…
Step 1 – Measure Ingredients
Wash the produce, and measure all of the ingredients so you have them ready.
Using a garlic press, mince the garlic. Juice the lemon, and separate the oregano leaves from their stems.
Step 2 – Puree
Add all of the measured ingredients to your food processor. If you like a bit of heat in your hummus, you can add 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper to enhance the flavor.
Pulse, scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula, then process until the mixture is smooth.
Step 3 – Adjust Consistency
If the hummus is thicker than you like, add olive oil 1/2 teaspoon at a time.
Pulse until combined and the texture is to your liking.
Step 4 – Season
Season with salt to taste.
Roasted Garlic = Savory Heaven
Roasted garlic is the key to the intense, savory flavor of this hummus. Slowly roasting the garlic gives a richness to the flavor that can’t compete with what raw minced garlic has to offer.
Adding the tang of lemon juice and herbaceous, floral oregano flavor notes really gives the creamy dip some extra life.
No one will be able to resist when a bowl is set in front of them. Plus, the heavenly smell of roasted garlic will fill your home, making your mouth water the moment it hits your nostrils.
Forget candles; when you have roasted garlic filling your home, no other aroma is necessary.
What do you love to add roasted garlic to? For even more deliciousness, try this classic homemade bread recipe.
Be sure to tell us what you think in the comments below. And don’t forget to give the recipe a rating!
Photos by Meghan Yager, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published on February 2nd, 2009. Last updated: June 22, 2020 at 18:11 pm. With additional writing and editing by Allison Sidhu.
Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.
About Shanna Mallon
Shanna Mallon is a freelance writer who holds an MA in writing from DePaul University. Her work has been featured in a variety of media outlets, including The Kitchn, Better Homes & Gardens, Taste of Home, Houzz.com, Foodista, Entrepreneur, and Ragan PR. In 2014, she co-authored The Einkorn Cookbook with her husband, Tim. Today, you can find her digging into food topics and celebrating the everyday grace of eating on her blog, Go Eat Your Bread with Joy. Shanna lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with Tim and their two small kids.