(Dec. 6, 2019) What do you think is the most popular appetizer?
This may be a difficult question to answer, but hummus would certainly be a good guess.
The popular chickpea dip is always a crowd pleaser. Plain, spicy black bean, and roasted red pepper are just a few of the tasty teasers.
Homemade hummus gives one the opportunity to personalize the creamy starter to coincide with a particular menu. It also allows one to present more interesting choices which ultimately makes for a more memorable occasion.
If you have never made homemade hummus, you will be surprised how easy it is to prepare.
Following are a few tips to facilitate the making of fabulous hummus and understand the science behind this Middle Eastern dish.
There is a misconception that brining is just for meats; dried beans will also benefit from this process.
Dried beans that have not been brined have a tendency to lose their skins when subjected to heat for a significant period of time. This is not very attractive and affects the texture of the overall dish.
In addition, dried beans that have not been brined have a tendency to cook unevenly and take longer to achieve the desired stage of tenderness.
According to Cook’s Illustrated, “as the beans soak, the sodium ions replace some of the calcium and magnesium ions in the skins. Because sodium ions are more weakly charged than calcium and magnesium ions, they allow more water to penetrate into the skins leading to a softer texture.”
The brining formula for dried beans is 3 tablespoons of table salt to 4 quarts of cold water for every pound of dried beans.
While we are on the subject of chemistry, add a touch of baking soda to your brining and cooking formulas.
The baking soda will raise the pH of the water which will help the cells in the outermost part of the bean to soften. Who would have thought such intricacies could make such a difference in the world of dried beans.
Hummus perfectionists insist on peeling the skins after the chickpeas have been cooked. This is a tedious and time-consuming step that most cooks simply do not have the time or patience for.
Pulverizing unpeeled chickpeas before adding the wet ingredients will yield a smoother texture. For extra-smooth hummus, press it through a fine-mesh strainer.
Tahini is a condiment made from toasted ground hulled sesame. It is a key ingredient for hummus and can be found in your local grocery store in the international section. It is very pricy, but you do not need much when making hummus.
Tahini typically comes in a jar and has a tendency to separate. Therefore, it is imperative to mix the tahini paste and olive oil before using.
If you have an immersion blender, this is the time to use. It will break down the chickpeas much better than a food processor or standard blender.
The smoothness of the hummus is critical for a professional look.
Christmas parties are in full swing and roasted beet hummus with crispy pita chips is a festive, delicious dish to bring to the holiday festivities.
If you are in the mood to try something new, roasted beet hummus should be at the top of your list. Enjoy!
Roasted Beet Hummus w/Crispy Pita Chips
Crispy Pita Chips
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
kosher salt to taste
black sesame seeds as a garnish
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Cut pita bread into shapes of your choice.
3. Using a pastry brush, brush the pita bread with butter, then apply a light sprinkling of salt and sesame seeds.
4. Bake the pita bread until crispy, approximately 8 to 10 minutes. Set aside.
Roasted Beet Hummus
3 tablespoons table salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
1-pound dried chickpeas
4 cups of water
6 cups of chicken stock
2 large beets, halved
1 tablespoon, plus ½ cup good quality extra-virgin olive oil
5 large garlic cloves, minced
5 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons tahini
¾ teaspoon roasted ground cumin
3/4 cup vegetable stock
kosher salt to taste
fresh herbs for a garnish
1. Dissolve 3 tablespoons of table salt and 1 teaspoon of baking soda in a large bowl, add cold water to cover the beans by 2 inches.
Cover and let sit at room temperature for 12 hours. Drain and rinse well.
2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
3. In the meantime, combine soaked chickpeas, remaining teaspoon of baking soda, water and chicken stock, and again cover by at least 2 inches.
Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cook until chickpeas are very tender, approximately an hour and 15 minutes.
4. While the beans are simmering, place the beets on a sheet of aluminum foil, rub exterior with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and wrap tightly in foil. Make sure the seam side is up.
Also, place a baking sheet underneath the beets, just in case the olive oil or juices from the beets drip. Cook until the beets are fork tender, about one hour.
5. Remove the beets from the oven, place them on a cooling rack and let stand until they are cool enough to handle. Peel the beets and discard the skins.
6. Place the chickpeas in a medium bowl and puree with an immersion blender. Add the remaining olive oil, beets, garlic, lemon juice, tahini, cumin, stock and salt and again puree until very smooth.
7. Place hummus in a fine mesh strainer. Using the back of a large spoon, keep pressing the hummus back and forth against the strainer. This will take some time but it is well worth the extra effort.
8. Pipe hummus in a serving bowl and garnish with fresh herbs. Serve with pita chips.
Secret Ingredient – Uniqueness. “Embrace your uniqueness. Time is much too short to be living someone else’s life.”
– Kobi Yamada