World’s best hummus

In every household, I think each member has Certain Stuff Only They Make.  Growing up, my dad made:  all weekend breakfasts (of both sweet and savory persuasions); all soups; all non-dessert bread products; anything in jars, including applesauce, tomato juice (both au naturel and pre-seasoned for Bloody Marys), grape juice, peaches, pears; all pies (no cakes); all grilled items.  He also managed and supervised all indoor and outdoor fireplaces in which roasting of marshmallows occurred.

My mom made:  everything else.

I’m starting to find that my husband’s and my budding household rituals are beginning to take a similar shape.  Though I do most of the cooking, it’s mainly because Danny, at some moment early in our relationship, must have detected that I was both a) really into cooking, and b) sort of bossy (okay and c) pretty good at it), and graciously abdicated his, and then our, kitchen to powers he identified as beyond his control.

However, Danny has several niche items in his repertoire, and we’ve been together long enough that it’s understood who is making what, when we talk about what’s getting made.

He makes: all breakfast tacos; numerous varieties of holiday brittle; all pre-tossed pizza dough for my topping convenience; Freezer Cleanout Roasted Vegetables (a cousin to regular roasted vegetables); all pre-cut vegetable sticks for dippin’; all popcorn; a very exotic dish known as Dannyboy’s Bachelor Tacos; the best hummus in the world.

In a recent redoubling of efforts to swat away pesky winter weight (which, this year, is particularly difficult because winter is still showing up on the occasional 34-degree evening), we thought we might try swapping in some butter lettuce leaves for sandwich bread in our lunches.  Being a bit of a traditionalist, not to mention an ardent and passionate lover of sandwiches, this felt a little like a travesty and I approached the new idea with narrowed eyes and furrowed brow.  Small waves of preemptive lunchtime disappointment came over me as I imagined how these lettuce wraps would taste; the words “low-cal” and “sensible eating” cruised in matching vests in a beige minivan in the air before me.  I pouted.
But then one night, making my lunch for the next day, I slapped together a proto-wrap to see what I was getting into.  Lettuce leaf, washed and dried; shmear of Danny’s chipotle hummus, two slices of smoked turkey.  Fold top, roll sides, nestle into the shape of a green leafy hamster.  Bite.  Think.  Bite again.
What was this?  This… smoothness!  This velvety layer between crunch and meaty smoke!  I yelled across the apartment:

My husband has been into hummus, and into making his own crazy varieties of hummus, for some time now.  In fact, I think his love for making hummus predates his love for me.  Which is saying something.  He’s so into it that when we’re at parties, he asks other guests how they make their hummus.  Like, it’s a legitimate topic of conversation.  He has made deluxe versions and health-nut versions; versions without tahini; versions without oil; versions with ample amounts of both.  He has made watery hummus, chunky hummus, chalky hummus, salty hummus, hummus that is so insanely spicy that it literally makes you sweat.  Our refrigerator has seen just about a batch of hummus a week for as long as we have lived in our current apartment; same goes for his old apartment.
He has attempted to replicate all of his favorite hummuses (hummi?), which, if you asked him, would probably come down to two versions:  Chef Earl’s hot giardiniera incarnation, and my friend Scott’s basic version.  We don’t know Chef Earl personally, but we do know Scott.

Scott’s secret for insanely smooth hummus:  peel the beans.  A tip we had heard before, but did not want to believe in.  Peel beans?  Are you nuts?  

Danny’s additional secret for insanely smooth hummus:  surprisingly no olive oil, but way more tahini than you thought you needed.

And suddenly, we’ve taken hummus from humble, easy, fast, and inexpensive to kinda luxurious and slightly time-consuming.  GREAT JOB.

But you guys, I am telling you — and Danny is too (really, he is right here, and his tone is very insistent) — that it is 100% worth the effort.  He was particularly skeptical at first about the peeling of the garbanzo beans, but finally tried it, and the result was undeniable.  

So now, we are pleased to present to you our (his) recipe for:

Seriously You Guys The World’s Best Hummus

A few notes:  first, Danny enjoys a spicy hummus, so he tends to add some zingy “flavoring agents” like wasabi powder, chipotle peppers, sriracha, and hot giardiniera (though never in the same batch).  I’m including suggested amounts for each, but do know that they are optional.  The amounts here are relatively conservative estimates, so if you are trying to step lightly toward spice, this should be a safe level.  Feel free to adjust to taste.  Also, you will notice that it’s recommended to reserve the drained-off “bean water” from the can if your batch needs thinning out.  Don’t dump it down the sink til the end!  Final note:  any funny terminology (such as “whack”) is purely my husband’s and I cannot vouch for its accuracy.  But we think you’ll know what he means.

Get this:

  • 1 can no salt added garbanzos

  • 2 cloves garlic

  • juice from 1/2 lemon and a bit of zest

  • 1/4 cup tahini

  • pinch salt

  • few whacks of black pepper

  • 1/4 tsp cumin

  • flavoring agent 

    • chipotles in adobo: 1 medium pepper and a few drops of adobo

    • sriracha:  1 1/2 tablespoons

    • hot giardiniera:  1 1/2 tablespoons

    • wasabi powder:  1 tablespoon, plus a few dashes low-sodium soy sauce or tamari

Do this:
Find a 30 minute podcast, radio show, or TV show you like.  Cue it up.
Set a mesh strainer or colander over a small bowl.  Drain the beans over the bowl, then rinse the beans in the sink.  Set the bowl with the “bean water” aside.
Toddle over to the TV or kitchen table or wherever, and bring your beans, another small bowl, and a paper towel.  Set down your strainer on the paper towel, hit play on your show, and get to peeling the beans.  THIS IS TEDIOUS.  But this is why I had you pick out a nice program so you’d be occupied during the boring part.  It’s actually kind of relaxing once you get the hang of it.

How to peel the beans:  you know you’ve seen those little rogue garbanzo skins when you’ve drained the beans before; they come off very easily.  The easiest way for me is to hold the little point end of the bean between the thumb and forefinger of my right (dominant) hand, and squeeze very gently toward my left hand.  The bean sort of slides/pops right out.  If you’re right-handed, your clean bean bowl should go on your left, which will allow you to just drop the discarded peel in the colander on the right.  No crossing hands; efficient movement.

I doubt the can of beans will take you an entire 30 minutes to peel.  But I wanted you to have a treat to enjoy after your hard work.  Congratulations!: you get to hang out for a little if you want.

Break’s over?  Okay, let’s finish the job.  It’s pretty simple, and mainly about timing.  Assemble the rest of your ingredients and break out the food processor.  We have a small one that Danny used to use for hummus, but… that was a more innocent time.  It’s fine for making tapenades, pestos, bread crumbs, etc, but to get smooth hummus, we find that our full-size food processor is more powerful.  (But honestly, if all you have is the small version, this still works.  You just might need to give the motor some small rests and make sure the beans are thoroughly beat the hell up before adding other elements.)

Put the garbanzos in the food processor, and chop as much as possible.  They should resemble a coarse meal before it’s okay to stop.  Then, add the rest of your ingredients, giving them plenty of time to blend in and break down.  If you find the hummus is too thick, slowly add the bean water while the processor is running, until you get the desired consistency.  Taste and adjust seasonings as desired.  Use in and on everything.


  1. […] some NOW:  so immediately that there was no time to look at the actual recipes that I pinned.  I knew how to make hummus anyway (although Danny is the master):  chickpeas – peeled or not, tahini, garlic, olive oil, […]

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