Sunday, December 19, 2004

Roasted Garlic Hummus

I was first introduced to hummus by my undergraduate biology advisor, but didn’t start ordering it in restaurants until graduate school. Within the last year or two my SO and I finally figured out how to make hummus easily, and only today did we try to make a roasted garlic version (which makes it a perfect end-of-the-week recipe blogging post). The roasted garlic has a mellower flavor than the raw garlic in the standard version, so more can be used without making the dish too sharp in flavor. The roasted garlic was so good that this will now be our standard hummus recipe.

For those not familiar with hummus, it’s a traditional Middle Eastern spread that is very tasty on warmed pita bread or raw vegetables.

1 whole head garlic, to be roasted
2 15 oz cans cooked chickpeas, drained and rinsed with water
1 cup tahini
2/3 cup lemon juice (~2-3 lemons)
2 medium-sized cloves raw garlic, finely minced or pressed with a garlic press
salt to taste (~1/2 teaspoon sea salt is what we usually use)
water (~7/8 cup is what we usually use)
extra virgin olive oil, sweet paprika, and kalamata (or other) olives, for serving

1. Roast the head of garlic in the oven. To do this, slice off the top 1/3 of the head (to expose the tops of the cloves), place in a small oven-proof dish (e.g. a ramekin), fill the dish with water so that the bottom ~1/3 of the head is immersed, drizzle with a little bit of olive oil, cover with foil, and bake in a 325F oven for 1 hour (until soft). Let cool before using to make handling easier.
2. In a food processor combine the chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, raw garlic, roasted garlic, salt, and enough water to start the mixture blending (~1/2 cup).
3. Process the mixture until it is mostly smooth, adding water until it is the desired spreading consistency (we use ~7/8 cup total, but it varies). It typically takes us a couple of minutes of processing to get to the right consistency; it should be spreadable but not runny.
4. Taste to check for salt and consistency.
5. Spread on a plate or in a bowl, sprinkle some paprika on top, drizzle with olive oil, and place some whole olives on top (if desired).
6. Serve with warm pita bread (or whatever you desire).

If you don’t want to take the time to roast the garlic, you can omit the roasted garlic and increase the raw garlic by 2 cloves to make standard hummus, which is what we’ve done in the past. Eliminating the roasting allows this dish to be made quickly (all the ingredients store well), making it a great snack.

Tahini (sesame seed paste, aka tahina) is a critical ingredient of hummus, and should be available at most specialty markets that carry Middle Eastern food; I’ve also found it in stores that focus on organic / bulk foods like Whole Foods Market. Specialized Middle Eastern markets will likely have the supplies cheaper than other stores (especially pitas; our local Middle Eastern market sells a package of six for $0.40).

Modified from Scott, David 1983. Recipes for an Arabian Night: Traditional Cooking from North Africa & the Middle East. Pantheon Books, NY pp 15-16.

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