Nov 042009

One of my favorite things to search for in the land of food is delicious ways to get lots of protein from non-meat sources. I’m not a vegetarian by any means, but I’m a big fan of the motto “Eat a variety of foods – mostly plants.” So when I was in my early twenties and learning about the power of legumes, I was so excited the day the “hummus is chickpeas!” light-bulb came on over my head. It quickly supplanted the nasty deli meat sandwiches that had been my lunch between classes up to that point.

Beautiful Rancho Gordo chickpeas
Nikon D50

Cory loves hummus too, so when we finally got to live together I started stocking it in the refrigerator as a staple. But, predictably, it wasn’t too long before I started looking for recipes to make my own, because even though there are brands of ready-made hummus that have a minimum of ingredients – and all of them are even pronouncable – I could still taste chemicals. Why put up with uninspired hummus when there is a vast variety of this classic dish at my fingertips?

Lots of garlic is the key to happiness!
Nikon D50

Being both a Moore and a Cilia, I’ve got a serious garlic addiction. There’s something about these two families: we just can’t get enough. So long as it ends up cooked, just about all of us routinely triple or quadruple the amount of garlic that’s called for in a recipe. There have been times I have bought seven heads of garlic from the grocery store and it’s all been gone less than 48 hours later.

Lots of garlic is the key to happiness!
Nikon D50

This just goes to show that it’s no surprise whatsoever that my favorite hummus recipe is one of the roasted garlic variety. We’re not talking about a paltry four or five cloves worth, we’re talking about a triple-garlic punch. This recipe uses two heads of garlic, garnishes with fried garlic chips, and incorporates garlic-infused olive oil. I hope you’re not going to be in non-garlic-loving company for a while after sampling some of this stuff!

Lots of garlic is the key to happiness!
Nikon D50

But, really, that’s the beauty of garlic: it packs so much flavor, and it’s so good for you, which yet another reason that I love this stuff so much. You pair this stuff with some amazingly fun-to-make whole grain pitas and you have a fantastic, filling source of lean protein.

Pita + hummus = a perfect combination
Nikon D50

Roasted garlic hummus
Adapted from the May 2008 issue of Cook’s Illustrated
Serves 6

As with any bean recipe, it’s important to use bean that aren’t (literally) seven years old. As always, I recommend Rancho Gordo beans because you know that they are from that year’s harvest, that they’ll taste better, and will cook more quickly and evenly.
If you prefer to use canned beans, use one 15-oz can of chickpeas. I’ve been very happy with the Eden Organic no-sodium chickpeas. You should also omit the 2 teaspoons olive oil, the bay leaf, and the thyme, and replace the cooking water with tap water.
2/3 cup dried chickpeas (garbanzos)
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 medium onion, diced
1 bay leaf
5 sprigs fresh thyme or 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
2 heads garlic
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil , plus extra for drizzling
2 thinly sliced garlic cloves
3 tablespoons juice from 1 to 2 lemons
4 tablespoons tahini, stirred well
1/2 teaspoon table salt (optional)
Pinch cayenne
2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley
At least 12 hours before making the hummus, put the chickpeas in a bowl and cover with 4-6 inches of cold water. Just prior to cooking the beans, heat the 2 teaspoons olive oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. When the pan is ready, add the onions, bay leaf, and thymne and cook for 5-6 minutes until soft and translucent. Add the chickpeas in their soaking water and add more water if needed (the beans should be covered by 1-2 inches of water). Bring to a boil and cook for about 3 minutes. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until tender all the way through, 60-90 minutes, depending on the freshness of the beans. When the beans are done, reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid and drain them. Set aside.
While the beans are cooking, prepare the garlic by removing the outer papery skins. Cut the top quarter off the heads and discard. Wrap garlic in foil and roast in a 350-degree oven until browned and very tender, about 1 hour.
Meanwhile, heat olive oil and 2 thinly sliced garlic cloves in small skillet over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer garlic slices to paper towel-lined plate and set aside; reserve oil. Once roasted garlic is cool, squeeze cloves from their skins (you should have about 1/4 cup).
Combine lemon juice and all but 2 tablespoons of the chickpeas’ cooking water in a small bowl or measuring cup. Whisk together tahini and garlic cooking oil in second small bowl or measuring cup.
Process roasted garlic puree, salt (if using), and cayenne in food processor until fully ground, about 15 seconds. Scrape down bowl with rubber spatula. Add the chickpeas and pulse or run steadily, depending on the texture you prefer. With the machine running, add lemon juice-water mixture in steady stream through feed tube. Scrape down bowl and continue to process for 1 minute. With machine running, add oil-tahini mixture in steady stream through feed tube; continue to process until hummus is smooth and creamy, about 15 seconds, scraping down bowl as needed. If the mixture is too thick, add the rest of the reserved cooking water.
Transfer hummus to serving bowl, sprinkle toasted garlic slices and parsley over surface, cover, and let stand until flavors meld, at least 30 minutes. Drizzle with olive oil and serve.

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