Improved Hummus

I clipped this recipe out of Vegetarian Times magazine, probably 20 years ago. It had a monthly column where less-healthy recipes would be improved by reducing salt or fat while improving the flavor. Back then, it seemed more of a counter-cultural magazine, sticking vegetarianism into the face of a meat-eating consumer culture. Sort of a Mother Jones of food magazines. But times change, and it slowly became more and more like a “women’s magazine” – by which I mean a magazine that assumes that men never read it. There were a lot of natural makeup and lifestyle features. I don’t blame them. You gotta go with your demographic strengths or disappear.

I am a big fan of hummus (even un-Improved), and always have some in the house. Every once in a while, though, I have to make this. It’s the lemon juice mixed with lime juice; it’s that touch of cayenne pepper and mint. Unlike the excellent store brands, there’s no vegetable oil added – the only fat comes from the sesame tahini.  If you cook the chickpeas yourself, you also have more control over how much sodium is in the dish.

2  19 ounce cans chickpeas, drained, 1 can’s liquid reserved
3-½ cups home-cooked chickpeas, cooked without salt, 1 cup liquid reserved

5 tablespoons sesame tahini
4 cloves garlic
juice of 2 limes
juice of 1 lemon
1/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh parsley leaves

2 teaspoons mint flakes
1/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh mint

½ teaspoon dried rosemary
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

¼ teaspoon salt (when using canned beans)
½ teaspoon salt (when using home-cooked beans)

Put ½ cup bean liquid, juice, garlic, and sesame tahini in blender; blend until smooth. Add chickpeas, a cup at the time, blending each time. Add all other ingredients, alternately turning and starring the chickpea mixture with rubber spatula, and then processing until smooth.

Serve as a dip with pita bread, raw vegetables or taco chips; spread on a sandwich in place of mayonnaise or mustard; or spread it on toast with breakfast; or use it as a sauce for spaghetti. (To a cup of hummus, stir in a ladle full of pasta-cooking-water and a tablespoon of olive oil.)


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