Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Not So Ho-Hum Hummus

Do any of you remember the movie "Annie Hall" with Woody Allen and Diane Keaton?  It's probably my all-time favorite as it is a mirror of my life.  I LOVED the part where SHE said that, in her family, the greatest sin was to raise your voice and HE said that in his, the greatest sin was to pay retail.

And then there was the night she found a "roach as big as a Buick" and made him come over in the middle of the night to kill it.

I can SO relate to all of that (even the roach part, as that is exactly what happened this morning in my kitchen -  I'll spare you the details).  Growing up in a WASPY atmosphere, I could have been a double for Diane Keaton in that movie.

When I departed my white bread life in Jacksonville to head for college, I was severely deficient in many of life's culinary pleasures.  As in, I had never had a bagel.  Or whitefish salad (well, I could have missed that one).  Or rugelach, Indian food or hummus.  Years later, this did not serve me well when I became a caterer and cooking instructor.

You know what happened.   I was asked to create all kinds of menus - Thai, Indian, Middle Eastern and even a ristaafel (Indonesian Rice Table).  Somehow, I always managed to pull it off and fool everyone.  I just winged it.  There was no internet in those days, but I was saved by my (pretty good) cooking instincts and a plethora of cookbooks and cooking magazines (oh Gourmet, I lament your loss).

Which brings me to hummus.  I had to make that, too.  It has now become a staple for me.  If you go into my pantry you will ALWAYS find a jar of tahini (sesame paste) and a couple cans (cans? I hate canned stuff) of garbanzo beans. 

Here's the thing about hummus.  People like it because a) it tastes good and b) they think it's healthy (well, maybe it is when compared to homemade potato chips drenched with warm Maytag blue cheese sauce).  That said, it's really not. 

Do you know the nutritional counts for garbanzo beans?  For 1 cup, it's 728 calories and 12 grams of fat. .  And then tahini - 2 tablespoons have 180 calories and 16 fat grams.  Yikes!  I would be better off dipping a spoon into the jar of peanut butter in my pantry.

And we won't talk about the olive oil that's in it.  But, hey, serve it up with some veggies and whole wheat pita crisps and folks will scarf it up every time, all the while thinking because it has protein and no dairy that it's healthy.

But, it's good. At least it can be. As I said, it's become a staple for me and I have served it hundreds of times (including that dinner party in Durham two weeks ago).  But I have had way too many bland versions which taste very similar to chalk paste. No, no, no.  And don't even think about buying the crap that's in the case in the grocery store.  If you're going to indulge in it and not delude yourself that you are being healthy, then go for it and make your own.  Here's my recipe.

Hummus (adapted from "Open-House Cookbook" by Sarah Leah Chase)

3 large garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 cup tahini (sesame paste)
1/2 cup water (more if needed)
3 cups garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon ground cumin
Salt to taste (use a lot!)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Rough chop garlic.  Place it into a food processor along with lemon juice.  Process to blend.  Add tahini and blend again.  Add water and chick peas and blend until fluffy, adding more water if needed, so mixture will not be dry.  Season generously to taste with cumin and salt.  Add olive oil and process briefly to combine.

Serve with pita chips, cucumber slices,. carrot slices, cherry tomatoes and good olives.

Yield:  3 cups

And if you want to pretend that you are being virtuous - well, who am I to argue?

No comments:

Post a Comment