Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Thick and Creamy Restaurant Style Hummus Done Two Ways

One night after having dinner with my husband at a little Indian restaurant on the outskirts of Boston, I declared that I had to stop at the closest supermarket for lemons and limes. Heaven forbid I don't have any fresh lemons in the fridge! My patient husband has learned to just roll with my food-obsessed ways. We ended up at an old supermarket that looked like it hadn't seen a remodel since the 1970's. While waiting in the checkout line, I grabbed an issue of Cook's Illustrated magazine. The recipe for restaurant-style hummus caught my eye. I knew I had to try it.

Growing up in a Lebanese family, I've eaten a lot of hummus. And still, I'm always looking for new ways to prepare it. For lunch the next day, I made the Cook's Illustrated hummus, dipping warm pita bread into it. After the first bite, I did a teeny happy-dance. A happy dance over hummus?  It might have been a just a few back-and-forth-swaying-motions. What can I say? I was hungry. The hummus was unexpectedly thick and rich. It hit the spot.

Restaurant Style Hummus With Green Chili Recipe Adapted from Cook's Illustrated Magazine's recipe for restaurant style hummus.

Some notes: 

I tweaked the Cook's Illustrated recipe a little, boosting the amount of lemon juice and finishing it with a sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds or pine nuts, fruity olive oil and a green chili pepper. Thai peppers are extremely hot but so delicious. They have subtle tropical undertones that I just love. Jalapeno peppers are also a favorite of mine. The result was a creamy hummus with a lemony, peppery kick and a festive presentation. Below this recipe is my hummus with smoked paprika chili oil, another delicious preparation.

I keep a couple of cans of chickpeas, a jar of tahini and some pita in my kitchen, so I can whip up this beloved Middle Eastern dip whenever the craving strikes.You can freeze pita bread until you're ready to use it, defrost it in a low oven. Once opened, store the tahini paste in the fridge. If you have access to quality fresh pita made with natural ingredients then grab more than you need and freeze the extra supply.

My favorite brand of tahini sesame paste is from Beirut. Maybe I'm partial to this brand because I'm half Lebanese. In any case, I've tried a lot of different brands. I love this one because it pours/stirs so easily even after being refrigerated. It's lighter in texture than most supermarket brands too, making the hummus creamier. I'm lucky to live in the Boston area where I can find it at Middle Eastern grocery stores. Here's the amazon link for it:   Tahini paste is ground hulled sesame seeds. Think of it as just another nut butter. Like peanut butter or almond butter, it's creamy and smooth. It gives hummus a wonderful depth of flavor.  Store it in the fridge. Regular grocery stores sell tahini too. Cook's Illustrated recommends Joyva brand, found in most supermarkets. It's a bit thicker than the Beirut brand. Here is the link:  Use what you can find. Make sure you stir it before using it in this recipe.

Sesame seeds are loaded with disease preventing properties, vitamins and minerals which are essential for optimum health. They're a good source of calcium, manganese, copper, iron, phosphorous, B1 and zinc. They're said to have cholesterol-lowering properties. They may be the oldest commonly known seed used for centuries by the people of the Eastern Mediterranean.  

Depending on my mood, I either add ground cumin to the hummus or I leave it out. A teeny tiny pinch is all that's needed, unless you really love cumin. If you don't like lemon juice, you can leave it out. The hummus will still taste great. But it does benefit from a little acid.  

Double this recipe if making it for 4 or more people or if you really love hummus. You can store the hummus in the fridge in an airtight container for 2 days. Serve it with pita and olives and you've got a fresh, healthy snack or a light lunch. Add it to your favorite vegetarian wrap. Dip grilled chicken or veggies into it. The sky is the limit.

I like to stuff it into pita with my quinoa tabouleh. Click on the link for the tabbouhleh recipe:
or serve it with my father's favorite tomato and cucumber salad:

Once you've made hummus a few times, you'll get the hang of it. Practice makes perfect. Enjoy!
You'll Need
  • 1 can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained. I used lower sodium chickpeas
  • 2-3 lemons. I like my hummus lemony. So I usually buy three. 
  • Generous 1/3 cup of tahini, well stirred. (see notes for information and my favorite brand which pours easily even after being refrigerated.)
  • 1/4 cup of cold water
  • 1/8 cup of extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling (optional).  I use unfiltered. 
  • Teeny pinch of ground cumin (optional) 
  • 1/2 teaspoon of toasted sesame seeds or a handful of toasted pine nuts 
  • Sprinkling of of finely diced or thinly sliced Thai or jalapeno pepper  
  • Sea salt or kosher salt to taste
  • Pita bread, carrot sticks, radishes, scallions, cucumbers and/or bell peppers for serving.

The Rundown
  1. Squeeze the juice of half of a lemon into the bowl of a food processor along with the chickpeas, tahini paste, salt, cumin and 1/8 cup of olive oil. Pulse to combine. Add the water, a tablespoon at a time while mixing in the food processor, until you reach your desired consistency. You want it to be thick and creamy, not watery or thin. Stop often. Taste often. Adjust salt, scrape down sides of the bowl and add more lemon juice if desired. I used the juice of one whole lemon in this recipe. Then I dowsed it with lots more lemon juice upon serving. Adjust the lemon juice according to your personal taste.  
  2. Toast the sesame seeds or pine nuts in a small dry fry pan on medium low heat until fragrant and golden, being careful not to burn them. Serve the hummus with a drizzle of best quality olive oil, a sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds or pine nuts and very thinly sliced or finely diced green chili pepper.      

Restaurant Style Hummus with Smoked Paprika Chili Oil Recipe 

I make my thick and creamy hummus (recipe above) buy instead of sprinkling a freshly diced chili pepper over the top, I top it with a complex, smoky-chili infused oil. This oil is also good on eggs and grilled chicken or fish. 

You can omit the red chili pepper in the oil if you don't want the spicy heat. Aleppo pepper is a pleasantly tart ground pepper with mild cumin undertones. It's sold in most Middle Eastern markets and at Penzeys Spices. The best paprika comes from Spain. They slowly smoke the peppers and grind them into a velvety powder. I like Safinter Smoked Spanish Paprika which I find at Whole Foods.     

You'll need:
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ground red chili pepper or Aleppo pepper (see notes)
  • 1/4 teaspoon of smoked Spanish paprika (I used Safinter brand.)
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil 
  • Kosher salt to taste
The Rundown:
Warm the olive oil on medium low heat with the red chili pepper or Aleppo pepper and smoked paprika and a dash of salt. Once warmed, set a side. The longer it sits the better it will be. Drizzle it over the restaurant style hummus and serve.

Light As Air Chickpea & Zucchini Fritters

My Father's Favorite Tomato & Mint Salad

Lemony Roasted Cauliflower


  1. Thanks so much! Thanks for stopping by and posting a comment. Happy Cooking! Jill