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Saturday, July 04, 2020

Recipe Round Up: Hummus and Fattoush


My hummus recipe is a guideline. I really to it to texture and taste, but this is the basic outline of how I make mine. I make a ton at a time and usually make it from about a pound of dried garbanzos, but I have scaled this back to just a half ton for you. It stores forever, so make this amount.

Making hummus from dried garbanzos that you cook up and peel the outer skins off of first is the best, but a pain (if you want to peel them, you just pop the little bean out of the skins with your thumb and index finger). I have my kids do all the peeling. However, cooking them with a little baking soda in the water seems to soften the skins well enough. You can also make it from canned. Since we have an electric counter top pressure cooker, I soak the beans, and then cook them at high pressure with salt for about 5 minutes. You can cook them from dry, but it takes longer, uses more heat/electricity, and I prefer the texture when they are soaked.

So, now you get my hummus rant. Store bought hummus is universally vile. Every time I buy it, because it was a really good price, and it's a quick snack, I regret it. Then, I doctor it up to try to make it better, and that improves it, but it still isn't as good as homemade, and I might as well have made it myself. Hummus means garbanzo bean (chick pea). Black bean hummus is an oxymoron. It is bean dip. I will need my smelling salts if you talk to me about chocolate hummus or any other such abomination. Dairy products don’t belong in there (maybe a drizzle of yogurt on top if you are gilding the lily). Making it with any other legume is no longer hummus, by definition. That would be like making mashed potatoes, only you used carrots. It might be delicious, but it’s not the same thing.

So, canon for hummus includes:

garbanzo beans
lemon juice
paprika for the top
olive oil for the top

Frequently found in it:
olive oil in the mixture

Optional, but acceptable:
roasted peppers
chile peppers
toppings such as pine nuts, seasoned cooked ground lamb or beef, parsley, chopped tomatoes and onions

8 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
4 cups cooked garbanzos (outer skins peeled off for best texture), save a few whole beans for garnish, also save some of the liquid from the pot or the can - the cooking liquid is crucial to the recipe and texture
2 - 3 tablespoons ground cumin (or more, if you like it)
2 teaspoons kosher salt (to taste)
1 teaspoon ground black pepper (fresh is best, but whatever you like, you can use white pepper if the black bits bother you)
3/4 - 1 cup tahina (sesame paste - you can actually make your own by grinding sesame seeds with a little salt until it becomes paste)
juice of 2 - 3 large lemons (remove the seeds, but the pulp is fine)
1/2 cup good olive oil + more for garnish
paprika for garnish (regular paprika, not smoked)
finely chopped parsley for garnish, optional

Traditionally you would use something like a mortar and pestle, but I use my food processor. I put the garlic in first, and pulse it to make it tiny, then add the garbanzo beans and puree the living daylights out of it. I add the cumin, salt and pepper, the tahina and puree some more. Add the lemon juice and olive oil, and puree more. Add some of the bean liquid and puree some more. The bean liquid is really the secret.

Then I taste it and add more tahina or olive oil or lemon juice or cumin or salt or pepper and keep at it until it tastes right. Really, I do this mostly by eye, experience and taste. When it is smooth and tastes good, spread it in a shallow dish with a rim, place the extra beans on it artfully, sprinkle with the paprika and, if you want it, the parsley, drizzle with excellent olive oil so it is drippy with it and serve with Arabic bread.

If you want to be fancy, you can cook up some muffroom (a mixture of cooked ground beef or lamb, salt, pepper, cumin, coriander, garlic, onions, and add some chopped parsley and toasted pine nuts to it and serve that on top, and now you have a meat dinner).


Fattoush is the Arab answer to bread salad. What do you do with leftover stale khoubz? Well, actually, I don't know, because I have to hide it from the kids to make sure I have leftovers. I was only able to snag four loaves, and this really could have used about six.

6 loaves leftover, stale Khoubz Araby (or set some aside when you make it and toast it over a low temperature until it is crisp)

4 - 5 hearts romaine lettuce, torn into bite sized pieces
6 Middle Eastern/Persian cucumbers, diced (if you use regular cucumbers, you may wish to peel, or peel and seed them)
6 bell peppers, mixed colors, seeded and diced
2 pints grape or cherry tomatoes, halved (or the equivalent amount of larger tomatoes diced)
1 bunch radishes, trimmed and chopped
1 medium red onion, peeled and diced
1 bunch parsley, trimmed and minced
1 bunch mint, leaves only, and minced
1 bunch dill, minced

juice of 3 large lemons (or 4 medium), I strain through a slotted spoon to catch the seeds, but it lets some of the pulp through, which is great
1 cup olive oil
6 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
generous amount salt and freshly ground pepper (to taste)

Mix all the vegetables in a big salad bowl.

Whisk together the dressing ingredients, tasting to make sure it is salted and peppered enough.

Break up the khoubz into bite sized pieces and top the salad. Pour the dressing evenly over the salad and toss to mix thoroughly. Serve.

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