the precursors of hummus

I’ve really, honestly, with the purest of hearts tried to like hummus. Super high in protein and dietary fiber, with some iron and calcium thrown in for fun, it’s one of those you-gotta-be-kidding-me-healthy foods. It’s just not for me, and I’ve come to accept that. The fella I share my home with, however, loves it. He could eat it for lunch and dinner every day.

When he first tried to make his own, the recipe he used was of the quick-n-easy variety, a step up, I suppose, from the powder in the box. You know, a can of this and a jar of that… It was all right, but it occurred to me that a from-scratch hummus would taste so much better (for him, of course; for me it still tastes like gritty garlic porridge), and it couldn’t possibly be that tough.

So we bought ourselves a pound of dried chickpeas (garbanzos) and a big ol’ bag of sesame seeds. These are the precursors of hummus. Not only does this extra effort produce a yummier product, but it’s way cheaper. For the price of a can of cooked chickpeas, you’ll get eight times as much from bulk dried beans. And tahini is pretty much toasted sesame seeds thrown in a food processor, so if you buy bulk seeds (not those 1-ounce bottles in the grocery store) it’s none too pricey. 

To prepare the chickpeas:
·Throw them in a pot and give them a rinse—you don’t know where those beans have been. Throw away any mutants. They’re your beans, so if you don’t like the cut of their jib, they’re gone.
·Cover the beans and then some with filtered water (it’s going to get soaked up into the beans so you might as well keep the lead and other nasties out) and walk away for 8 hours. Overnight or when you’re leaving for the day is perfect.
·After soaking, change the water. Again look for mutants. They’re a little bigger now and easier to spot.
·Simmer (covered) for about an hour to an hour and a half, depending on the size of your beans. Check every once in a while for tenderness. You don’t want them completely mushy but they should be softer than a nut. They’ll keep cooking and sharing moisture after you take them off the heat, so they should have just a bit of a bite to ’em.

At this point, I usually stick them in the fridge until Tom’s ready for them (a day or two). They also freeze fine.

To prepare the tahini:
·Line a pan with sesame seeds. They can be up to a quarter inch deep—you’re not really trying to brown them. I use my toaster oven, but it can get messy when you’re stirring them about.
·Toast away at 400°, checking them and stirring them every few minutes. This won’t take too long. You’ll know by the smell when they’re done because the oils are releasing, which is why you’re toasting them in the first place.
·Let them cool off just a bit before trying to get them into your food processor. And be prepared to lose a few during the transfer. They tend to stick, what with the oils being released, so be careful.
·Stand back and let the blade do the work. If you’ve ever made peanut butter, it’s the same idea. At first they’re just going to fly around and get cut up. Then they come together and get creamy.
·Toward the end, you can add a little olive oil (or sesame oil, I suppose) to get it to the consistency you like. If you’re putting olive oil in your hummus anyway, adding it here won’t hurt. Just don’t add it before the seeds are broken down into the buttery state.

This also stores in the fridge…for a while. Like a month with no issue.

Enough for one day! Maybe tomorrow we’ll throw it all together and call it hummus.

 

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