Hummus

Chickpea Puree

Not only is hummus a classic spread beloved in Syria, Lebanon, and Israel, but versions of it seem to appear in every supermarket refrigerator case here in the United States. It has become the perfect appetizer and probably is lunch for many a person trapped at a desk. Serve hummus with warm pita bread or spears of cucumber, radish, carrot, and green onion. It also can be a rich and creamy garnish for falafel.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dried chickpeas, soaked overnight and drained
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste
  • 6 tablespoons tahini (sesame paste)
  • 2 large cloves garlic, any green sprouts removed, minced
  • ½ cup fresh lemon juice, or to taste
  • pinch of cayenne pepper, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • sweet paprika to taste
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
  • pita bread, warmed

Method

Put the chickpeas in a 2-quart soup pot, add the water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until very soft, about 1 hour or more. Add the 2 teaspoons salt after 30 minutes. Drain the chickpeas, reserving the cooking liquid, and transfer them to a food processor. Pulse to puree. Add the tahini, garlic, lemon juice, cayenne, and cumin, if using, and puree again.

Pulse in enough cold water to achieve a spreadable consistency and season with salt to taste. If you are serving it right away, spoon the hummus onto a shallow plate and smooth it with a spoon or spatula. Sprinkle with the olive oil, paprika, parsley, and toasted pine nuts. Serve with the pita bread. If you make the hummus hours in advance, the mixture will thicken as it stands, so you will need to thin it with the reserved cooking liquid to regain the proper consistency.