The Weekend Dish: Hummus for everyone
What exactly makes a dish American? I suppose that hamburgers and hot dogs come to mind. Maybe even apple pie. Yet, those things come from somewhere else.
Our culinary history is so much greater than the sum of those parts. I have heard that this country is a melting pot, or perhaps a salad. I like the idea of America as food.
Food brings us together. It is our history and can tell so many stories. When our ancestors immigrated here, they brought their hopes, dreams and old family recipes. In these pages, I have shared some of those treasured dishes that my own family brought with them from Italy to provide comfort in the new world.
We are all so different, yet we need the same things. Warm food in our bellies and the breaking of some sort of bread is universal to all of humanity.
The diversity of our food makes American cuisine great. All recipes are welcome. We are the children of the world, and our menus reflect this. Even in Glenwood Springs, there is a little bit of everything, from Indian, Chinese, Mexican and everything in between.
Some of the food we love also has ancient origins beyond written history. One such dish is hummus, which has a surprising story and is a new American favorite.
The word “hummus” is derived from Arabic and means “chickpeas.” Like so many beautiful foods, its exact origins are unknown and foreign. Diana Spechler explores the history of hummus for the BBC, and it is a wild story. There are possible mentions of hummus in the Bible, and it has been found in old Egyptian recipe books dating back to the 13th century. It has since become a staple across the Middle East and Mediterranean regions. It certainly has a strong association with Syria, Lebanon and Palestine, while it has been called an unofficial “national dish” of Israel.
Perhaps it does not even matter where it comes from. So many cultures love hummus, and it makes people happy. Different regions have adapted it successfully by adding their own unique local flavors and ingredients. In the last 20 years, it has also become wildly popular in America.
According to statistics shared by Reuters, 25 percent of American households consumed hummus in 2016. It is a billion-dollar industry here with room to grow further. Hummus can be found in most grocery stores as a packaged product with many varieties. Unfortunately, some of these prepared dips can contain preservatives, and there has even been a recent listeria scare in some national brands. This is why I like to make my own from scratch.
Serves six to eight friends
3 (15-ounces) can chickpeas
1/4 cup tahini, optional
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 lemon, optional
1 garlic clove, chopped
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon curry
Salt to taste
Dash paprika, garnish
- Drain and rinse chickpeas. Set aside.
- In a food processor or blender, mix together tahini and lemon juice for about one minute. This mixture gives the hummus an umami flavor and adds extra creaminess.
- Set a cup of chickpeas aside. Add the rest of the chickpeas along with spices and salt to processor or blender. Mix well for about one minute or depending on how smooth you want the chickpeas. You can also skip processing the chickpeas and add directly to the frying pan or skillet.
- In a frying pan or skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-to-high heat. Add the chickpeas you set aside once the oil is hot. If you skipped processing the chickpeas, then add all of them with spices and salt to the heated oil.
- Once chickpeas cook for a few minutes, mash them with a fork. Use caution, as some of the chickpeas may pop open from the heat. Once chickpeas are soft and mashed, add the blended mixture, if applicable.
- Cook for about five minutes while vigorously stirring with fork. This will mix the olive oil while keeping the mixture light and fluffy.
- Set in the refrigerator to fully cool. Top with paprika and garnish of your choice. Serve immediately.
The essential elements of hummus are cheap, widely available and easy to make. It is primarily made from chickpeas, olive oil, lemon juice, tahini, and some common spices. There are so many different ways to prepare it, and different variations of it are limitless.
I went with a basic recipe, but I invite you to add your own creative flair and embellishments. Pine nuts, minced garlic, pesto, and roasted peppers are some great additions to this recipe. What do you think would work well with hummus?
Hummus goes great on crackers, bread chips, vegetables and can be used as a sandwich spread. The chickpeas are very nutritious and contain protein, fiber, and manganese. I like to make a big batch of it and save the leftovers for all the uses mentioned above. It keeps well in the refrigerator and makes a great snack on the go. Processing the chickpeas and adding tahini is also optional, as I’ll explain in the recipe below. If you do not process the chickpeas, they will have a chunkier texture.
Hummus may be foreign, but it has successfully assimilated into American culture. Maybe we are a melting pot, or perhaps we are like hummus.
No matter what your background is, this recipe can be shared by friends of all stripes. We are more than hamburgers or apple pie, and the diversity of our food makes this country great. In a diverse world, food like this could bring us together.
Jordan Callier is an avid foodie and business owner in Glenwood Springs.
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