I do a lot of cooking for my family and there are and have been so many different issues with food allergies or sensitivities between my son and their wives and even our newest little one that has so many tummy issues that her Mom needs to eliminate quite a few things! It can sometimes be exhausting, but I do find it a challenge and have come up with some interesting and tasty recipes.
One thing that is an easy go-to appetizer for the whole family, is some form of hummus. It’s gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, nut-free and healthy! Store bought hummus can be too salty, flavorless or grainy and we all prefer homemade. Since I have made this a lot, I have discovered a few secrets that I am going to share with you! Shhhh! Don’t tell anybody!
Secrets to the best Hummus
- Chickpeas 1. Either use Chana Dal (dry split chickpeas), dry whole chickpeas that you overcook, or canned chickpeas that you cook for 10-15 minutes. The idea here is soft and mushy. It is also helpful to use a very small amount (I use 1/2 teaspoon) of baking soda in the soaking or cooking water to help break down the cell walls and soften the beans.
- Chickpeas 2. Make sure your chickpeas are somewhat overcooked. This will ensure smoother hummus. Also, it is best to process them cold or at room temperature. If they are hot when you process, your hummus may turn out pasty, rather than creamy. You can also add a couple of ice cubes near the end of processing to get that fluffy texture or use ice water (or chilled cooking water) if need to thin it out to your desired texture. No need to process with olive oil. Leave that good olive oil for garnishing the top. Cooking water from your chickpeas works well as a thinning agent.
- Tahini. Use good tahini and use enough of it to get the authentic flavor. Use tahini that is 100% hulled sesame seeds and is light ivory in color.
- Combine the garlic, salt and lemon juice first. I usually mash the garlic with the salt on a cutting board and then add it to the lemon juice and let it sit 5-10 minutes. This helps to tame some of the pungency and leave the flavor! Here’s the science behind that!
- Process or blend long enough to get the texture you desire. When using whole chickpeas (either that you cooked or canned) you will need to process for about 4-5 minutes for creamy texture.
Just look at that creaminess! Disclaimer here: I may have found the secrets to getting a dreamy, almost ethereal hummus, but I have to admit that I prefer it a bit more rustic. When making it for just us, I will most likely not cook the chickpeas as long.
I was reading about how it is best to take the skins off of your cooked chickpeas in order to get creamier hummus and I don’t know about you, but that is just not in my repertoire! Popping the skins off of every chickpea?? Not happenin’ here!
I had just received a bag of chana dal for doing some Indian cooking. Dal is a term used in India for dried, split pulses (edible seeds of plants in the legume family) that do not require soaking before cooking. Hmmm… Chana dal is split dried chickpeas. Why couldn’t I just use these? So, I tried it out for this recipe and not only do they cook a lot quicker than whole chickpeas, there are no skins to worry about! It worked like a dream. Once they were cooked, I just added all the ingredients in my food processor and it took less than a minute for this super creamy delight. No baking soda or ice cubes needed, and a lot less time overall. You’re welcome! Here’s the organic chana dal I used – not sponsored, just giving resources. I hope you try making hummus using chana dal. You may never go back!
So, I was trying to think of how to make my hummus a bit fresher and even healthier, and I remembered this fresh, beautiful Israeli salad (not claiming to be authentic!) I made a while back for a my friend’s Hanukkah party. So, I decided to try topping off my hummus with a ton of fresh ingredients. It’s a really simple salad of tomatoes, cucumber and onion, chopped small and mixed with lemon juice, olive oil and mint (with salt and pepper). Of course, as I was researching my creation, I found several others online who have done the same, so nothing new under the sun, but maybe you hadn’t thought of it!
This salad really bumps up the health factor. Each ingredient has unique health benefits. Cucumbers are fat-free, full of water and a good source of fiber. Tomatoes provide Vitamins C, A and cancer-fighting lycopene. Onions are rich in chromium, a mineral that helps cells respond to insulin. Onions have been shown to lower blood sugar, cholesterol and blood pressure. Lemon juice has Vitamin C, antioxidants and potassium along with being a natural diuretic. Olive oil has mono-unsaturated fatty acids with anti-inflammatory properties and can help our bodies to better absorb the nutrients in the rest of the salad.
I must say, up until now I had preferred adding a big dollop of Calabrian chilies on my hummus, but now I am torn. This was delicious and more family friendly for those who don’t like hot and spicy as much as I do. We may have to have both on Super Bowl Sunday!
I hope you will give it a try and let me know how it turns out for you. I know it will be the creamiest, dreamiest hummus you’ve ever had.
Check out my other hummus post, where I add preserved lemon to the mix! If you notice, that one is a bit more rustic. You could totally add preserved lemon here as well. Yumm!
Creamiest Hummus with Israeli Salad
- 1-2 cloves garlic
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 lemon juiced, plus more to taste
- 3 cups cooked chickpeas (or chana dal) cooked and cooled, save cooking water - see notes* If using canned, you will need 2 14oz cans.
- ½ cup tahini
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 2-3 tablespoons chilled chickpea cooking water or ice cubes
- ½ teaspoon baking soda optional, see cooking chickpeas instructions
- ½ pound tomatoes, diced I used cherry tomatoes.
- ½ pound English or Persian cucumbers seeds scooped out and diced
- ¼ cup onion, diced small
- ⅓ cup parsley and/or mint chopped fine
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ teaspoon salt or to taste
- 1 teaspoon ground sumac optional - may use paprika
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
For Cooking Chickpeas
- If using Chana Dal, place 1.5 cups of dry dal in either a pot or in a pressure cooker and add enough water to cover plus 2 inches. Optional to add a bay leaf and ½ teaspoon baking soda. Cook until very soft. Drain in a colander over a bowl to reserve cooking water. Chill or set aside to cool. Chill about ¼ cup of cooking water.
- If using canned chickpeas, dump entire contents of 2 cans into a pot and simmer, adding more water if needed, for about 10-15 minutes or until very soft. Drain in a colander over a bowl to reserve cooking water. Chill or set aside to cool. Chill about ¼ cup of cooking water.
- If using whole dried chickpeas, soak the chickpeas in a large bowl of water with ½ teaspoon baking soda stirred in for several hours or overnight. Rinse and add to a pot or in a pressure cooker and add enough water to cover plus 2 inches. Optional to add a bay leaf. Cook until very soft. Drain in a colander over a bowl to reserve cooking water. Chill or set aside to cool. Chill about ¼ cup of cooking water.
- Smash garlic cloves and remove skins. Smash and grind to almost a paste with the salt using your knife and a cutting board. Add to the lemon juice in a small bowl and let sit for 5-10 minutes. Make Israeli Salad while chickpeas cool.
- Add cooled chickpeas, tahini, garlic/salt/lemon mixture, cumin, and paprika to a food processor (or blender) and process until well blended. If too thick, add chilled chickpea cooking water, a tablespoon at a time until desired consistency. If grainy, add an ice cube or two and continue processing until smooth. This will take about a minute with chana dal or up to 5 minutes when using whole chickpeas.
- Taste and adjust salt, lemon or spices as desired.
- Serve by placing into a shallow bowl or platter and smoothing the top with a spoon to get some canals. Drizzle with a good extra virgin olive oil, top with a generous amount of Israeli salad and then garnish with sumac and parsley, if using.
For Israeli Salad
- Combine all salad ingredients in a bowl and set aside, stirring occasionally, until serving.