Now, in a perfect world, there’s only one hummus recipe I’d recommend, and that’s the one in Sami Tamimi and Yotam Ottolenghi’s fantastic book, Jerusalem, which should live in every kitchen. Theirs is a smooth, creamy, rich and deep hummus, and I’m not sure I’ve ever followed a recipe more often – if I’m going to someone’s house, I take some; if we’re having a picnic, I take some; if I’m cooking for vegans, I make some; if I’m cooking for meat eaters, I make some with a big pile of meat in the middle of it. So yes, it’s a crowd-pleaser, it’s delicious, and could well lay claim to being ‘the recipe which changed my life’.
But, it’s not a perfect world, is it? You don’t always have time to soak your chickpeas overnight, then dry fry them, boil them, process them and leave them to cool, however good the results may be. This recipe is for those moments, when you need to throw together something quick and very delicious in the time it takes to slice some bread, stick some leftovers on a plate and lay the table, which is exactly what we did for yesterday’s dinner.
At its heart, hummus is simply a blended mix of tahini, chickpeas and garlic, and whatever else you choose to do with it is your own affair, but these suggestions are mine. Tahini has been widely available in supermarkets for a long time now, but I often find that it comes in tiny, piddly little jars, is expensive and looks rather unedifying – I would recommend visiting your nearest middle-eastern grocer, or at the very least the ‘world’ aisle in a big supermarket, and trying to get hold of one of the large plastic jars, labelled in both Arabic and English. I’m currently working my way through a Lebanese one, and it’s cheaper and better than any European branded Tahini I’ve seen. Don’t worry about having too much, as I’m fairly sure it never goes off.
This is a good sized portion as part of a larger meal, but you could make it the main dish by sticking something substantial in the middle of the plate – some grilled meat and vegetables probably – and having a loaf of fresh white bread handy.
For this recipe, you’ll need a high speed find processor with a bowl. It’s possible you could get away with using a stick blender, but I have a feeling it would be hard work, and I don’t want to take any responsibility for breaking any kitchen gadgets.
As a side plate, or for four people with some grilled meat or vegetables, you will need –
- 1 can of chickpeas, drained
- 1 clove of garlic, crushed (big if you like your garlic strong, smaller if not)
- 120g light tahini paste (stir your jar thoroughly before measuring this out)
- 1/2 tbsp lemon juice, or the juice of about a quarter of a large fruit
- 1/2 tsp fine salt
- a jug of ice cold water
To garnish –
- 1 tbsp-ish toasted pine nuts
- A small bunch of flatleaf parsley, bigger stems removed and roughly chopped
- 1tsp paprika powder
- A spring onion, finely sliced
- A small handful of black olives, sliced
- Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
Drain your can of chickpeas in a sieve, take a generous tablespoon of them and set aside, and put the rest in your blender bowl, along with the crushed garlic.
Blend for a few seconds on a high speed, til you have a thick, rough paste. It might be extremely thick, and that’s fine. Scrape down the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula and set to a high speed again.
With the blender running. pour in your tahini, lemon juice and salt, then very slowly drizzle in about 100ml of the cold water. Stop and scrape down the sides again, then have a little taste. You’re aiming for a nice balance of salt, lemon-sourness and garlicky heat, so now’s a good time to adjust if you need to. You’re also aiming for a thickness similar to thick greek yoghurt – a mixture that’s wet but not at all runny. If it still feels too stiff, you can add a little more water, say a tablespoon, in the next stage.
Set the blender to high again, and now leave it running for a full five minutes. You’re aiming for the smoothest paste possible.
Set aside the blended hummus in a covered bowl at room temperature whilst you make your other preparations. It’s generally a good policy to leave it for an hour or so if you can, but if you can’t, so be it. Alternatively, at this stage you can pop it in the fridge and eat it at some point within the next few days. Just remember to take it out an hour or so in advance to let it come to room temperature (the flavour will thank you for this).
To serve, spread the hummus out in a thick layer on your favourite plate (something around the size of a vinyl LP suits me) and then scatter over your toppings, finishing with a hefty drizzle of the best olive oil you have and a liberal final sprinkling of chopped parsley.
If you’re able to eat this outside, my goodness, do. Either put a serving spoon on the plate, or let everyone dig straight in with slices or chunks of bread.