Hummus and I go way back. I couldn't imagine my college years without the chickpea dip. It was always there for me when I needed an impromptu dorm room dinner or when I had friends over. I love to dip into hummus with soft pita or even tortilla chips, never those awfully hard pita chips, which have the texture of wood chips. Hummus is now so popular that you can find it around the world, but this dish has Arabic origins.
It's not completely clear which peoples invented hummus, but you can find it throughout the Levantine region: Lebanon, Palestine, Israel, and Turkey. But you don't have to travel throughout the Middle East to find hummus for yourself. Every market sells it, but making your own is so much more satisfying, because you can flavor it to your personal taste. Plus, with a food processor, it only takes a few minutes to prepare. Start a party with an appetizer platter including hummus.
I like my hummus heavy on the tahini (sesame paste) and with roasted—not raw—garlic. A touch of lemon juice gives it just enough acidity to keep it well balanced. And good-quality olive oil is the key. Don't just serve the hummus alone, make a meze spread, which is a traditional way to start any meal in the Mediterranean. Have pita bread as well as strained yogurt, olives, capers, and my favorite, stuffed grape leaves (dolma). All the flavors are refreshing and the dishes cooling, making it perfect for summer entertaining.
Roasted Garlic Hummus
Note: Roasted chickpeas for the garnish can easily be purchased in the supermarket. Or roast your own: Toss 1 can chickpeas (drained, rinsed, and patted dry) with olive oil on a baking sheet. Roast at 400 degrees F. for 30 to 40 minutes. Sprinkle with salt.
1 head garlic
2 15-ounce cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup tahini
1/4 cup lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
1/2 cup olive oil
fine sea salt
rreshly ground black pepper
roasted chickpeas, for garnish
Slice off top 1/2-inch of garlic. Place on a piece of foil, drizzle with a little oil, and crimp into a packet. Roast in a 350-degree F oven for about 30 to 40 minutes. Carefully open packet and let garlic cool slightly. Squeeze garlic out of skin.
Combine the garlic, chickpeas, tahini, and lemon juice in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until mashed. Drizzle in olive oil and puree until emulsified. If too thick, add about 1/4 cup water. Season with salt and pepper. Pulse to combine.
Spoon into serving bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Garnish with roasted chickpeas. Serve with pita bread. Store leftover hummus in an air-tight container with a little oil drizzled on the surface of the hummus to prevent skin from forming. Yield: 3 cups.