By Erik Fideor
Hummus balances health, taste and ease-of-preparation in a way that makes it perfect for party platters and packed lunches alike. This recipe is versatile because you may adjust the proportion of ingredients to result in a final product perfect for your taste, whether that be more spicy, sweet, tangy or mild. Experimenting is at least half of the fun, but rest assured that these base ingredients will result in a delicious dish nearly every time.
Salted garbanzo beans tend to have a better flavor, and one batch can serve enough for four to five to enjoy in one sitting or two to three servings for one person. Start by straining the garbanzo beans in the sink with a strainer or sieve and rinsing them with cool water. Pour them into a food processor and then lightly and evenly coat them with onion and garlic powder. You may use fresh chopped onion and garlic, but mince them as finely as possible and give more time blending to ensure that the ingredients become thoroughly mixed in the hummus. Powder tends to be a bit easier in that regard.
The next three ingredients compose the main flavor of the hummus, so they can be tailored to your preferred flavor. Look for sweet and/or spicy pickles that are brined with peppers for the best results. If you love heat, go for the more spicy varieties. The garbanzo beans will absorb some of the heat, so air on the side of more intense flavors for noticeable results. Add in around four or five pickle chips (or one to 1 ½ spears) along with some of the brine (which is typically vinegar, water and salt). This will make the hummus smoother and add to the flavor.
To heat up the hummus, add in canned cherry peppers. They are hot, slightly sweet and tangy. Perfect to compliment the pickle taste and will not detract as much as jalapeños or banana peppers. Whole cherry peppers are fine to use as well, add about three or four slices to the mix, along with about one teaspoon of their brine as well. Do not worry if the hummus does not taste hot enough yet, as you can serve the dish with pepper slices on top or from the jar at the end.
If at this point you want a tangier flavor, add white wine vinegar to taste. But be careful that you do not overdo it. There is already vinegar in the pickle and cherry pepper brine, but they will also have hot or sweet flavors like the taste of the other ingredients. Start with one teaspoon and add ¼ teaspoon after each mix until you are happy with the flavor.
While mixing, the garbanzo beans will start out dry and may not be smooth. The liquid from the pickles and peppers along with their brine will help make the hummus smoother and creamier. The end result should hold its shape and not drip. Liquid should not pool at the edges or bottom of the hummus. The consistency will be wetter than mashed potatoes but drier than tomato paste. Think re-fried beans only smoother and lighter.
Chill the hummus for an hour in a bowl with a damp cloth or plastic wrap over the top and smooth the top with a spatula for a clean presentation. The flavor will intensify the longer the hummus sits in the refrigerator, so eating it immediately may give a more mild taste. Try folding in the edges and run the spatula across the top in a wide circle to make a bun shape, and then use the edge to make curved marks going from the outside edge toward the center. Optionally, garnish the top by sprinkling sesame seeds or cherry pepper slices if you like extra heat.
Serve your hummus with sliced baby carrots and celery sticks to provide a healthy alternative to snack foods, or crackers or toasted bread for indulgent flavors. Other good vegetables to scoop or dip with include broccoli, cauliflower, roma or cherry tomatoes or even a raw bell pepper.
What you will need:
- Blender or food processor
- Sliced cherry peppers
- Sweet (and spicy/tangy) pickles
- White wine vinegar
- Garlic powder
- Onion powder
- 1 Can of garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
- Optional, sesame seeds
- Baby carrots, celery, cauliflower, broccoli, crackers, tortilla chips or toasted pita/naan style bread for dipping.
- Open one can of garbanzo beans and rinse with cool water. Pour into blender or food processor.
- Lightly coat the garbanzo beans with onion and garlic powder.
- Add one teaspoon of white wine vinegar.
- Add four to five sweet pickle chips (approximately 1 – 1 ½ spears), and one to two teaspoons of the juice from the jar.
- Add three or four cherry pepper slices and one to two teaspoons of the juice from the jar.
- Blend until smooth, scraping the sides to ensure even mixing. The consistency should be moist but not soupy and hold its shape when stirred.
- Chill for one hour or serve immediately with carrot, celery, cauliflower, broccoli, crackers, tortilla chips or toasted pita/naan style bread. Optional, garnish with sesame seeds or additional cherry pepper slices.