Serious Eats: Recipes

Essentials: Hummus

Sometimes I recall that I grew up without hummus and am amazed. It seems like such a natural kid-food, but it just wasn’t around in Houston then (now it is—my childhood, we’re talking decades ago now, people). I discovered hummus in my Yankee college town, at a little bakery that slathered it on a large, soft pita and wrapped it up with sliced tomatoes and onions. It dripped all over the place but was heavenly, especially during finals when one’s brain couldn’t be expected to function on dining-hall fare alone.

As a single girl in Manhattan, I had to be careful about buying hummus because I could eat a whole container over the course of an idle afternoon. What began as a little snack would end up a crime scene featuring me splayed out on the sofa with a magazine, eyeing an empty plastic tub and a half-full bag of baby carrots with horror: what have I done? My Lebanese friend warned me that hummus was full of fat. My Israeli friend taught me which brands would do (Sabra) and which would not (all the other ones) and convinced me to buy a vat of tahini. I learned some (some) self-control and self-sufficiency, and now I make my own hummus.

Right now my favorite version is from The Art of Simple Food. Although it turned out magically well the first time I made it, it’s been good but not mind-blowing on subsequent attempts. The first time was good enough that I keep trying to recapture it. I used to make the hummus from How to Cook Everything, and I’m intrigued by a recipe that appeared this month in Food & Wine. The chef in the magazine says that hummus is the hardest thing to get right, but for me, without an Israeli frame of reference, it’s seems hard to get hummus wrong. Mine is inconsistent and probably not up to Israeli standards, but boy, does it taste good to me.

I haven’t seen garlic scapes in the New York markets yet (maybe they are there for the early birds? I’ve been waking up late) but tossing a small handful of garlic scapes into the food processor instead of garlic is also very nice.

About the author: Robin Bellinger recently escaped a career in book publishing, which was cutting into her cooking time. Now she's a freelance editor and can bake bread on Tuesday afternoon if she feels like it. She lives in Midtown Manhattan with her husband and blogs about cooking and crafting at home*economics.

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