This Mediterranean dip born of chickpeas and sesame is also known by its other iterations such as houmous, humus, hoummos, humous, or most accurately, حُمُّص بطحينة. While no one knows its historical origins, folklore often insists hummus is one of the oldest-known prepared foods. Many cookbooks and recipes have survived since antiquity, but hummus was not mentioned until the 18th-century in Damascus sources. Many scholars have dismissed its more modern routes by arguing that hummus has been such an everyday staple, writing down a recipe for it would be akin to a recipe for boiling water.
Middle Eastern debates aside, the puree has always been popular with the granola set in the West and really hit its stride with the cocktail crowd and suburban families alike in the past decade or so. One may find the dip upon every party table, garnished with cilantro, drizzled with olive oil, or sprinkled with cumin and always always always served with pita (and sometimes sturdy vegetables for scooping).
Presently, humus is accessible in any of its mutations at virtually all grocery stores in flavours like roasted red pepper, roasted garlic, jalapeno, carmelized onion, sundried tomato and on and on. And while it’s easy and convenient to buy, the taste and texture leaves a lot to be desired. Fortunately, it’s also easy to make at home; the ingredients are simple and you’ll have fun coming up with your very own signature hummus once you’ve mastered the basics. The recipe I have on offer is a lemon artichoke version but simply eliminate artichoke and lemon zest to create the basic gold standard. It’s inspired by a Cooks Illustrated recipe but with such simple ingredients, one hardly needs a recipe at all. Lemony, garlicky, salty, silky, substantial perfection.
Finally, a word about chickpeas: if you’re going the homemade route, go all the way and use dried chickpeas (see note following recipe). They’re cheaper than canned and you’ll have the pleasure of creating something right from scratch. Take this with a grain of salt, though, because I have been known once upon a time to bake a loaf of bread to make my own croutons for a caesar salad. I know. Crazy. But you can make all kinds of other fun things with the extra legumes, including my vegetarian butter chicken (no butter and no chicken…recipe to come). Anyway, happy dipping…
Lemon Artichoke Hummus5 tablespoons tahini (make sure you stir it well before measuring to redistribute oils) 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 2 cups chickpeas, more or less, drained (see note for using dried chickpeas) 1 or 2 garlic cloves, depending on the size, peeled 1 can or jar artichoke hearts, drained and rinsed Zest from half of the lemon ½ teaspoon coarse kosher salt Generous pinch cayenne 4 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice ¼ cup water (or reserved cooking liquid from chickpeas, if on hand)
- Whisk tahini and oil together in a small bowl or measuring cup.
- Process chickpeas, garlic, artichoke hearts, lemon zest, salt and cayenne in food processor for a good 30 seconds until blended. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- Turn machine on and slowly drizzle in the lemon juice and water through the feed tube. Scrape down the sides of the bowl again and puree for another minute or so.
- With machine still running, drizzle in the tahini and olive oil mixture and continue to blend until smooth, perhaps another 30 seconds.
- Transfer to a bowl and cover tightly. This dip is best if left for a spell to allow the flavours to develop and bloom. It can keep for up to a week in the fridge; you might stir in a touch of water before serving if you find it a little thick.
- NOTE: If you wish to use dried chickpeas, you’ll need to plan ahead. The night before, rinse 1-2 cups chickpeas and place in a large bowl filled with water. Let soak overnight. The following day, drain beans from bowl into a large pot filled with fresh water. Add 1/4 teaspoon baking soda and bring to a boil. Turn heat to a gentle simmer and cover to cook for about an hour, stirring occasionally, until chickpeas are tender. Drain, reserving some of the cooking liquid for the recipe above, and allow to cool.
Makes about 3 cups