Take a Dip: Classic Smooth Hummus Recipe with Variations

There are many upcoming occasions to take a dip—from game-day get-togethers and award show viewing parties to everyday snacks and lunches—and homemade hummus is a tasty, healthy option. The nutty flavors of chickpeas and sesame, spiked with lemon and garlic, are not only delicious but also packed with protein, fiber and even some calcium. In addition to plain hummus served with a puddle of good olive oil on top—the way it has been made in the Middle East since antiquity—Twin Cities chef and cookbook author Robin Asbell encourages people to riff on it with a variety of flavorful add-ins and variations.

This hummus recipe, originally made for Real Food, includes some popular optional add-ins. If creativity strikes, don’t be afraid to add whatever sounds good to you, either. The recipe also includes instructions on peeling the chickpeas. If you have ever made hummus without peeling the beans, you will see just how big of a difference this can make, says Asbell. If you don’t mind a little texture, by all means, skip the peeling step.

Classic Smooth Hummus with Variations

Makes 4 Servings (about 1¾ cups base hummus)

1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained, skinned if desired
2 cloves garlic, peeled
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup tahini
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
¼ cup ice water

1 to 2 additional tablespoons fresh lemon juice, to taste
salt, to taste
extra virgin olive oil, for garnish
paprika, for garnish

pita bread, crackers, chips, sliced cucumber or veggies for dipping

Flavor Variations (pick one, if desired):
1 (8-ounce) jar roasted red peppers, drained, patted dry and diced
½ cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil, minced
4 large artichoke hearts, drained and diced
1 head roasted garlic (see Cook’s Note)
1 small chipotle chile canned in adobo, diced
¼ cup pesto sauce

1. Drain the chickpeas in a strainer set over a bowl, and save the juice (aquafaba), if desired (see below). Skin if desired (see Tricks of the Trade below).

2. With the machine running, drop the garlic cloves into the food processor bowl, mincing them finely. Pour the chickpeas through the feed tube, grinding them to a paste. Scrape down, add the salt, and repeat until a very smooth, thick paste is produced. Add the tahini, any flavor variations, if using, and purée to mix. With the machine running, drizzle in the lemon juice and ice water. If desired, add more water for a looser consistency.

3. Add more lemon and salt to taste. Serve drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with paprika. If desired, also top with a sprinkle of your optional flavor variation.

Cook’s Note: To roast garlic, preheat the oven to 350°F. Peel garlic cloves and put them in an oven-safe ramekin or place on a square of foil. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil and cover or crimp the foil loosely around the garlic. Put the garlic in the oven for 20 minutes, shake it, and then bake an additional 10 minutes, depending on the size of the cloves. Uncover and pierce a clove with a paring knife; they are done when they are butter soft. Let cool. Do not chop before adding to this recipe. All hummus will keep, tightly covered, for up to 4 days in the refrigerator.

Tricks of the Trade: One trick that will make your homemade hummus just as velvety smooth as the ones you buy at the store is to skin the chickpeas. Whether you are using home-cooked or canned chickpeas, there is a thin, translucent skin wrapped around the soft center.

To remove the skins, place the drained chickpeas in a large bowl and cover with cold water by 2 inches. Use your fingers to knead and squeeze the beans and pop off the skins without crushing them. The skins will float to the surface, where you can skim them off. Discard the skins; then drain the skinned chickpeas again.

What is Aquafaba? When you drain chickpeas to make hummus, don’t throw that liquid away. After years of pouring this bean-water down the drain, we have discovered a new use for it. Christened “aqua” after the Latin word for water, and “faba,” the Latin root word for beans, aquafaba is a fantastic egg substitute, says Asbell.

To replace an egg in a recipe, use 3 tablespoons of aquafaba. Where aquafaba really excels is as a replacement for egg whites because it can be whipped to hold firm peaks for meringues, mousses and lofty cakes. Simply beat the aquafaba with a pinch of cream of tartar in a stand mixer or with an electric beater for about 5 minutes to get billowy “whites” to fold into batters.

Nutrition info Classic Hummus (per serving): CALORIES 278 (151 from fat); FAT 18g (Sat. 2g); CHOL 0mg; SODIUM 498mg; CARB 23g; FIBER 7g; PROTEIN 10g

Mary Subialka is the editor of Real Food and Drinks magazines, covering the flavorful world of food, wine, and spirits. She rarely meets a chicken she doesn’t like, and hopes that her son, who used to eat beets and Indian food as a preschooler, will one day again think of real food as more than something you need to eat before dessert and be inspired by his younger brother, who is now into trying new foods.