Cooking on the Cheap: Almost Hummus

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July 14, 2009 by skwishface

A while back, my friend Dave presented me with a bowl of what could either have been peanut-butter-cookie batter or baby food, paired it with Fritos Scoops, and called it a snack. I was dubious. Not the least because Dave is a bachelor who partakes joyfully of copious *ahem* inhaled herbal supplements. So this bowl could hold a nightmare, or pure GENIUS.

Turns out, it was genius. Fiery, dragonbreathy, zingy genius. So I stole his recipe, tweaked it, simplified it, and devoured it.

Almost Hummus (prep time: about 7 minutes. cost: <$5)
2 cans garbanzo beans (aka – chickpeas)
2-3 cloves garlic
1/4-1/2 cup lemon juice
1-a million tbsps olive oil
salt/pepper/cayenne pepper to taste

Electricity not optional.

Electricity not optional.

 The reason this is “almost hummus” and not “actual hummus” is the lack of a key ingredient. Tahini.  It’s sesame-butter and very Middle-Eastern and adds a certain flavor that makes hummus hummus. Problem is, I really can’t stand tahini. It’s got a very strong flavor that is somehow simultaneously flat. Like it’s dull, but it has alot of presence on the palate. Look at me talkin’ all fancy! Anyway, I think it’s gross, so I leave it out. If you like it, add it in. I can’t advise on how much to add, because my answer will always be “none”.

Dave would squeeze his lemon juice fresh. He would even zest them. Single people have that kind of time. But there’s about ten minutes left before The Kids wake up from a nap, and I don’t have fresh lemons, and I’ve never owned a zesting device, and there’s this big, lovely, convenient bottle of lemon juice in my fridge, so ….

Normally I use my food processor for this dish, but it’s big and clunky and I always feel obligated to make a HUGE batch if I’m going to use it. My appliances guilt-trip me into food over-production. Since I only wanted to make a medium-sized batch of hummus, I chose to use my blender. I would come to regret this decision.

Moving on! First the garlic …

Beaten, stripped, and dropped on whirling blades. Garlic gets no love.

Beaten, stripped, and dropped on whirling blades. Garlic gets no love.

You gotta smash the cloves to get the papery skin off easily. Food Network would have you do this with your bare hand or the flat of a blade. Both options sound like madness to me, so I just grabbed a handy can of beans. Then peeled the little treasures and dropped them in the blender. No need to be dainty with them, since they’re about to get all blended up anyway.

Next, the beans! Garbanzo beans are not only fun to say (gar-BONZO!), but they also smell really manky. Is that a word? How about “funky” or “like feet”? Delicious and nutritious and really, really odd-smelling. Best to rinse them in a strainer:

So pretty once the funk is washed off.

So pretty once the funk is washed off.

Then drop your beans into the blender right on top of the garlic. Add your lemon juice:

glug glug glug

glug glug glug

How much lemon juice? Meh, depends on how zippy you want your final product to be, how tart the juice is, etc. You’re not depending on the juice for texture – that’s what the olive oil is for – so really just go with your taste here. You can always add more, but you can’t take away. There is such a thing is TOO tangy.

Next, add a touch of seasoning:

... Just a touch.

... Just a touch.

It’s all “to taste” with the seasonings. And really, you can use anything. I just happen to enjoy the slow burn of cayenne pepper. But please, whatever you do throw in there, do yourself a favor and be generous with the salt. The lemon juice will go a long way towards brightening up the flavor of this stuff, but it can’t do it alone. Salt: it’s good for your soul.

But maybe not for your health. So take into consideration all the protein, vitamins, fiber, antioxidants, and healthy fats to be found in this dish, and ask yourself if the salt is worth it. (hint: it totally is)

Once you’ve added the seasoning, start up the blender. While it’s whirring, drizzle in the olive oil:

Thus.

Thus.

I’m always paranoid about opening the top of an active blender. Like maybe the blades will see their chance and FLY INTO MY EYES or something. To date, this has never happened.

Anyway, drizzle in the olive oil till the mixture is as smooth as you want it. Then turn off the blender and scoop your hummus into an attractive serving dish (read: tupperware). Try to get the stuff out of the very bottom, and curse the day you ever bought a blender.

ARGH!

ARGH!

As you can see, I prefer a more rustic texture to my hummus. And by “rustic” I mean “I’m too impatient to blend it up until it’s perfectly smooth, so sue me”.

Final step: devour!

Helloooooo dragonbreath!

Hello, lover.

The raw garlic and the peppery goodness can make this a dangerous snack. Have breathmints handy. Or just feed it to everyone around you, so you’re all breathing fire equally.

I like this for dipping veggies or crackers (most especially cherub tomatoes, as shown above). Dave would tell you to use Fritos Scoops. My idea is healthier, but Dave’s is way more fun.

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