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Hummus: Three Variations

May 4, 2012

When I was in college, some of my friends decided to ban hummus from their weekly gatherings because it was the new popular vegetarian staple and everyone would bring it. Thus, the weekly gatherings were becoming more and more mundane and it was the hummus’ fault. It is probably stories like this that have influenced the evolution of hummus. Traditionally, the ingredients have been standard: chickpeas (garbanzo beans), tahini (sesame seed butter), lemon juice, garlic, and spices. Now, however, you can find all sorts of hummus, variety enough to feed groups of friends week after week without being overly repetitive. Here are three recipes for hummus. The first one can be made with a pot and a spoon; the others will be smoother if you have something to process the hummus in (like a food processor or blender).

Red Lentil Hummus

This is the easiest hummus recipe I have ever seen or tried. It’s hardly “hummus,” in the pure sense of the word, lacking 3 of the standard ingredients, but it works. Though red lentils are a gorgeous orange before they’re cooked, during cooking, they sadly turn brownish yellow. (This recipe is adapted from The Essential Book of Jewish Festival Cooking.)

2 C. red lentils, picked over

2 bay leaves

1 ½ teaspoons salt

4-5 large garlic cloves, pressed

1 ½ to 2 teaspoons dried oregano (make it tablespoons for fresh)

1/4 C. olive oil

Rinse the lentils by covering them with water, swishing them around, and draining the water with a sieve or small colander. Rinsing is a very important step. Do this until the water is clear.

Put the lentils and bay leaves in a large saucepan with water to cover the lentils an additional one and one-half inches. Bring to a boil and lower the heat. Skim off the foam that develops on top. (You don’t have to baby-sit the pot, just keep an eye on it and remove the foam when there’s a lot. You probably won’t get it all; that’s OK.) Cover and cook over low heat for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Continue to keep an eye on the top. Sometimes the foam will reach the lid and boil over. If this happens, turn the heat down a bit and wipe up the mess. There should be a bit of water left on the top when the lentils are finished. Remove the bay leaves.

Beat the mixture with a spoon until it is a smooth mash, and the water is mixed in. In a small bowl, mix the salt, garlic, oregano, and olive oil, and stir briskly into to lentil mash. Add black pepper to taste.

Adzuki Bean Hummus

A more traditional recipe, this hummus uses adzuki beans, an important legume in Korea and Japan. This recipe also calls for kombu or kelp, an edible seaweed. When we lived in BC, I used dried BC kelp, which I could get at many markets that specialize in Asian and health foods. (You can leave it out, if you want, but the hummus will be less flavourful.) You could substitute nori (sushi wraps) for the kombu.

1 C. dry adzuki beans

4 inch piece kombu or kelp

Place the above ingredients in a heavy pot with water to cover the beans several inches. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer, and cook for at least 1-2 hours or until soft.


2 T. tahini

4 T. rice vinegar

1 ½ t.  ground coriander seeds

1-2 T. fresh grated ginger

½ t. sea salt or Kosher salt

lime juice (optional)

Mix together. If you have a blender or food processor, process until smooth. If not, mash together with a potato masher. Add lime juice if necessary for flavor, if you like.

Pinto Bean Hummus

Pinto beans are medium-sized beans, beige overlaid with brown dappling. I just made this recipe with Evelyn again last week; we picked mint and wild chives from our yard. Evelyn loves to eat mint! She’ll eat a whole sprig as a little snack.

To make this recipe, follow the instructions for the above hummus recipe, using the following ingredients:

1 C. dry pinto beans (or 2 cups cooked)

 1 C. chopped scallions (green onions)

1 T. roasted garlic (Roast the 3-5 unpeeled cloves of garlic in the oven; when it is soft, squeeze it out of the skin.)

¼  C. fresh mint leaves, sliced (or 1 Tablespoon dried)

¼ t. ground black pepper

½ t.  sea salt or Kosher salt

1/8 t. cayenne pepper

2 T. lemon juice, more for thinning if necessary

If you like, add the scallions and mint after the hummus is processed or pureed for added colour and texture

Hummus can be eaten with tortilla chips, pita wedges, or with lettuce, tomato, yogurt, and feta cheese in pita halves. Or, if no one’s around, you can just dip your finger into it and lick it off.

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