[Editor's note: there are dishes that we have on such a regular basis that we don't think to obsessively photograph them, so they will pop up here and again as simple meal solution ideas that we think deserve a tryout in your regular meal rotation.]
You see, I have these two friends whom I love dearly. One time we visited them and I learned about one of their rituals, hummus night. Something so simple yet so profound. Can adults base an entire nightly meal around a dip? They sure can.
And why not? Hummus is such a versatile instrument that it can play with any other dish or mood. I have a standard base to start with and additions, which get added at the end anyway, are nearly limitless. This will feed four with lots of dip-ables or two with ample leftovers for lunches. The basic formulation is as follows:
- 1 clove of garlic
- Juice of 1/2 – 2 lemons*
- 2 cans of chick peas, rinsed
- 1-3 tbsp water
- salt & pepper
- 1/2 cup olive oil
Combine the first five ingredients in a food processor or a blender. If using a blender, be aware that the stuff may stick to the sides and you’ll be stopping and scraping often. Once it’s all mixed, add the olive oil to the whirring gizmo carefully to make a smooth texture. Transfer to a bowl and serve with toasted pita, crudités, crustini, or whatever else you can think of.
*I leave the lemons open to the user. This falls to the flavor-building section of the construction. When you go to the store, you see a million kinds of hummus; it has more mix-ins than Cold Stone ice cream. Like said ice cream, I find many of the additions unnecessary, but a few work well. Greenery like parsley or blended arugula work very nicely, sun-dried tomatoes in oil are a great addition (but a bit fussy), lots of lemon, cumin and additional garlic is great. You can kick-it-up to five-alarm status by stirring in pureed canned chipotles in adobo, which tastes amazing but is culinary masochism at it’s best. Peanut butter approximates the traditional tahini, or you can use the real stuff (which I have in the past) to give it body. I like more Mediterranean tastes in mine, but the only way you’ll know for sure is to try a few. Experiment with your dippers as well. If you come up with anything strange and wonderful, let us know!
Hummus is great because it can serve as a great party food, an appetizer, a fast light meal or a member of a dinnertime ensemble. Hummus, in many ways, is like a big bowl of potato chips. You can certainly eat the entire thing in one sitting, or you can leave it out and grab little bits over a period of many hours. Unlike potato chips, though, this is way better for you. So, until next time, friends, cook on!