Perfect Hummus

The Lasting Influence of Rabbi Steve

Everybody has a “first” experience of some sort or another in college, right? Well, my memorable one is about hummus. (Yes, I’m a nerd. Now you know, and we can all move on.) My now-husband (who at that point was either my friend, boyfriend, fiance, or husband – I honestly can’t remember because the progression went fairly quickly) and I were enjoying a musical performance at a local drinking establishment because that was the cheapest place to enjoy musical performances, and we ended up chatting with a guy who we later found out was named Rabbi Steve. He was either a real Jewish rabbi, or a real Messianic Jewish rabbi, or simply Jewish and for that reason his friends referred to him as Rabbi Steve, but this is neither here nor there.

The important thing is that we ran into Rabbi Steve at various other musical performances at various other drinking establishments and eventually ended up with an invitation to a little gathering at Rabbi Steve’s place. The really important thing is that at this gathering, Rabbi Steve served hummus.

It was the first time I had ever heard of, seen, smelled, or tasted hummus.
It was exotic.
It was delicious.
I was a little upset with my mother for never having introduced me to hummus before. Hummus and I, we’ll be together forever (or until the world ends or garbanzo beans go the way of the dinosaurs, whatever).

At that point I began ordering it anytime I saw it as an appetizer in a restaurant, then buying tubs of hummus at the warehouse club. It was a refrigerator staple. Then, one fortuitous evening, I got the brilliant idea to see if Cooks Illustrated had any hummus recipes, and wouldn’t you know, they had developed the perfect method for restaurant-style hummus at home. And, what’s more, the recipe was super easy!

Here are the components of basic hummus, in a nutshell:

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Garbanzo beans, tahini, olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, water, cumin, cayenne, and salt (the last two ingredients are conspicuously absent from the photo – meh). 

When I can find them, I usually go with brands recommended by Cooks Illustrated taste tests, but I also often just grab whatever brand I see or whatever is on sale. In this case, the garbanzo beans and tahini are from a trip to the international market and are brands I haven’t used before.

So, take a bunch of garbanzo beans (also known as chickpeas, but I’d rather say garbanzo) and grind them up in your food processor with some salt, cumin, cayenne, and a nice pile of fresh garlic.

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[Side Note: I love my knife, but I started “mincing” garlic by grating it on my microplane, and I’m never going back to my knife for garlic. You can’t make me.]

When it’s all ground up and processed together, stream in some fresh lemon juice and water, then emulsify in a good amount of olive oil and tahini.

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[Second Side Note: Tahini might seem a little out in left field for a pantry staple, but anything that can be found on the shelves of your local wally world should be removed from the official “exotic ingredient” list. It can, however, be a little expensive, but I’ve found that it tends to be much cheaper at international food stores than bigger grocery chains.]

Let everything whip up for a minute, take the lid off, grab your Veggie Box, and immediately take a big dip with a carrot (or tomato, cucumber, pepper, celery, or anything else you happen to have in there).

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Yum. Yummy. Yummers. See how the carrot left a trail in the hummus? Perfect texture, thanks to emulsification. Emulsification is important. We need more emulsification.

Then tell your kids (without emulsifying them) that no, they are not allowed to dip straight out of the food processor bowl like you did. Scoop them out their own servings so their germy saliva-ness doesn’t contaminate the whole batch, and put the veggie box on the table between them. That snack should give them enough nutrients for a month, at least.

(What? Nutrition doesn’t work like that, you say? Oh. Well, it’s ok, because my kids will eat veggies and hummus every day. Except for my little man, who prefers to eat his hummus straight, with a spoon.)

Or, if your mother happens to have saved your sanity that day by taking all of your kids to the library for the afternoon, eat half the hummus in peace and scoop the rest out into a container and pop it in the fridge – it will keep for about a week with no problem, although even a double batch rarely lasts more than a few days at my house.

Or, if 98% of your time is not governed by the needs and wants of a band of mini humans, scoop your hummus out into a nice bowl, drizzle some olive oil and chopped fresh cilantro over the top, and serve it with crackers, veggies, or pita bread at your next dinner party. Rabbi Steve will be proud, and your guests will leave happier.

Find the full recipe here: Restaurant Style Hummus from CooksIllustrated.com

IMPORTANT Side Note: You can only access the full recipe if you have a paid subscription to cooksillustrated.com. However, if you click through to the web site, you can start a FREE 14-day trial subscription and check out any recipe you want. I find the subscription to be an excellent value and well worth the cost, but you can decide for yourself with the free trial. And no, I will not be siphoning off recipes from cooksillustrated.com and posting them here in full. I appreciate the work that goes into testing their recipes, and I appreciate the lack of ads on their site, which I’m sure is made possible in part by the subscription revenue, so I have no intention of stealing their recipes for you (sorry). My goal here is to steer you toward delicious, reliable, easy, healthy recipes, and many of my favorites happen to come from the test kitchens behind Cooks Illustrated. So go, start a free trial, taste the hummus wonderland, and see if don’t want to try more recipes. And, as usual, Cooks Illustrated and America’s Test Kitchen have no idea who I am. I just really, really, like this hummus. In fact, I took a break from typing just now to go lick the food processor bowl.

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