If you live on earth, your local supermarket has a lot of packaged hummus in it. Different brands and varieties, different accompanying flavors and garnishes—roasted red peppers! pine nuts! roasted garlic! spinach and artichoke hearts! XXXtreme Buffalo-Ranch Frito-Blast Flavor Dirt!—and so on. This is because people very reasonably love hummus, and also because people are dumb and lazy.
Listen. Few foodstuffs are more easily prepared than hummus, and of the few that are, virtually none are so much as a tenth as satisfying. There's virtually no cooking involved! If you can make a smoothie (you can make a smoothie, right?), you can make hummus. You should make hummus!
But, I hear you mewling, store-bought hummus is great mew mew mew! Why should I make hummus when the packaged kind is already as good as I will ever require a not-catastrophically-unhealthful snack foodstuff to be? Mewwwww! This is a perfectly legitimate question, and the answer is: Cram it, you lazy bum. Your homemade hummus will be better—tastier and more satisfying—because you will shape it to your exact tastes, and because doing so will help you to differentiate your tastes from fucking Sabra's, thus making you more fully the owner of your own and only goddamn human life.
So. Make some hummus. Let's just make some hummus.
The first thing to do is to acquire cooked chickpeas. These of course come in cans; if you want to use canned chickpeas, why that is very sensible of you, and you will need four or five soup-can-sized cans. Drain the liquid from the cans into some kind of vessel so that you can use it later. So, like, not the kitchen sink. Set the drained chickpeas aside for a bit.
On the other hand, if you are worried about additives and preservatives and the like, maybe lighten up a little bit, there, but also, you can use dried chickpeas, ya big fraidycat. Dump, oh, a pound of dried chickpeas into a big bowl, cover them with water so they're a couple of inches below the surface (so they've got room to expand as they soak), then leave 'em overnight. In the morning, or whenever you feel like you're about two hours away from being ready for some hummus, move the chickpeas to a big pot, cover them with fresh water (again so they're well submerged), and simmer them for 90 minutes. There. Now they are ready to be made into hummus, which everybody else had yesterday because they used canned chickpeas, but at least now you can be sure that when you eventually grow an arm out of the back of your neck, it won't be because of canned-chickpea preservatives.
Drain your cooked chickpeas and reserve a couple of cups of the water. The next thing to do is acquire tahini. Yes, goddammit, tahini.
Look. Everybody's all, "Oh, maybe you can't find tahini, so it's OK to use unsweetened peanut butter or cashew butter or almond butter or to skip the nut butter entirely or to in some other way swap out the essential hummus-ness of your hummus to maintain the familiar level of depressing compromise in your sad, poorly illuminated life, so as to ensure that, when you die, you will not notice a difference." No. Bullshit. Tahini is not goddamn gold leaf. It is not snow-leopard meat. It is not flour made from the ground-up Mona Lisa. It is friggin' sesame-seed paste, for chrissakes, and it can be found and had like damn near any jar of nut butter that doesn't say "Jif" on the side, and when you say that you "can't find it," what you are really saying is that you find your town's kosher or halal grocer or zany international supermarket too scary to enter (or, worse, that you cannot even be bothered to give the "International" aisle at your local big-box supermarket a once-over, and are the goddamn worst).
That is not a way to conduct an adult human life. Find tahini. It comes in jars. Order it off the fucking Internet if you're just that goddamn far from the nearest worth-a-damn purveyor of foodstuffs. The solid matter in a jar of tahini may settle over time, leaving a layer of thin liquid at the top of the jar; if that's the case in yours, give it a good stir before you use it.
So, the next step isn't strictly essential to the making of hummus, but you're gonna do it anyway, because by God, you like things that are good. Toast some pine nuts in a pan. This is pretty straightforward: Dump a big fistful of pine nuts into any old pan (stainless steel is probably best for this, since the bright metal background makes judging the toastedness of your pine nuts easy), stick 'em over medium-high heat for a couple of minutes, and give the pan a few shakes and shimmies along the way. When the pine nuts begin browning, remove them into a small bowl or ramekin or coffee mug and drizzle them with some extra-virgin olive oil. Those sure are some toasted-ass pine nuts!
Congratulations. By toasting some pine nuts in a pan for two minutes, you have now completed the most sophisticated culinary technique involved in the production of hummus. Remember this the next time you think of buying a packaged tub of hummus down at the friggin' Kroger.
And now, uh, make hummus. I mean, there's really no other way to put it. Dump all but a fistful of your chickpeas into a blender or food processor with, oh, a cup of tahini, a splash of the reserved chickpea water, the juice of half a lemon, a clove or two of fresh garlic, a pinch of smoked paprika, another pinch of cumin powder, a dash of salt, and half a cup of extra-virgin olive oil. (Note: If your automated food-puréeing device can't accommodate all this stuff at once, divide the stuff into batches and mix them together at the end.)
Blend (or food-process) this stuff until it's smooth, then dip the tip of a wooden spoon into it and taste. It may need some more olive oil for silky smoothness; it may need some more lemon juice for tartness, or tahini for nuttiness, or salt for, uh, saltiness; it may need some more chickpea water it it's too thick; it may need to be blended (or food-processed) some more if it's still too chunky. Judge and adjust for yourself, tasting as you go, until eventually you taste your hummus and go, "Oh, yeah, that's it," and then you taste it again, and again, and then become aware that you are actually just eating your hummus, eating fistfuls of your hummus, smearing hummus across your upper chest and performing a swaying, semi-conscious, hip-gyrating dance move of profound indecency.
That is how you know your hummus is ready. Now, prepare your hummus for serving. Scoop a couple of cupfuls of your hummus into a wide, shallow bowl; stir in the whole chickpeas you kept out of the blender (or food processor). Remember the pine nuts you toasted and drizzled with olive oil? Make a shallow depression with the back of a spoon in the center of this bowl of hummus, and dump the pine nuts in there. Sprinkle some more smoked paprika over the whole affair, drizzle it generously with your very tasty extra-virgin olive oil, and then toss some finely-chopped parsley on there, too.
Isn't that pretty? Time to completely fucking destroy it.
Serve your hummus with some pita or naan that you thoughtfully toasted and cut into wedges (or, ugh, some delicious and life-giving vegetables [eyeroll]). Dip the latter into the former, point the result at your head, and fire away. Creamy and nutty and rich, juuuust that perfect little bit of carbon smokiness from the paprika, the mild tartness of the lemon and cumin waking your salivary glands, and, oh, hiding back there, throwing paper airplanes and giggling, the punch of raw garlic. God damn. Almost as miraculous as how quickly it disappears.
Seal whatever you didn't serve into an airtight container and sock it into the fridge, and never buy hummus at a supermarket again in your whole splendid human life.
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Albert Burneko is an eating enthusiast and father of two. Peevishly correct his foolishness on Twitter @albertburneko, or send him your creepy longform hate-missives at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can find lots more Foodspin at foodspin.deadspin.com.
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