When I was in kindergarten, my mother married George Mitchell David. My first memory of him was of a very tall, dark-haired man wearing a trench coat with pockets full of Juicy Fruit gum and Mary Jane candies which he happily doled out to this wee holder of boring suspicious eyes. He was a wonderful man who not only stepped into the very difficult position of stepfather to two young children but also folded us into his very large, very close Lebanese family.
The David clan was headed by a wizened old couple I knew as Sitto (grandfather) and Tita (grandmother). They were Dad’s grandparents and so weren’t around long but long enough to have given me terrific memories of Sunday visits to their rowhouse in DC that we would enter to loud chatter, laughter and mysterious smells and tastes. Each Sunday there was a spread that rivaled any Thanksgiving table. There were stuffed grape leaves, hunks of meats, platters of vegetables, dips and spreads, many of which frightened me at first but eventually I would look forward to.
My absolute favorite, in line with my love of all things legume, was the hummus bi tahini. Like most families, the Davids had their favorite way of making hummus which I remembered to be very lemony and garlic-forward with a pretty distinct tahini presence as well. The texture was smooth and velvety, not glumpy or thick. They served it with delicious chewy pita bread and onion wedges for dipping. Dad died in 2002 after a valiant battle with cancer and I really don’t keep in touch with the rest of the family but, to this day, when I whiz up a batch of hummus I flash back to that rowhouse overstuffed with good eats and lots of love.
Before sharing my recipe for hummus below, I have to tell you that when I called my favorite sister about this recipe – being as she’s a David by birth – she listened patiently to my version but not before telling me that a recipe she’d found, though in need of tweaking in the lemon and garlic department (need more), is spot on. So, in full disclosure, here’s the Yotam Ottolenghi recipe that Monica recommends and which I will try. I humbly post mine below because it can be whipped up in five minutes tops, eaten immediately, or if you are able to give it an hour or so for the flavors to mix and mingle, you’re still getting pretty close to instant gratification. I wholeheartedly suggest using the best pita you can find for dipping and do try wedges of sweet onion as well. Perfect dip: triangle of pita topped with a thin wedge of onion dipped into the hummus. Rowhouse, loud animated voices, warm spicy smells all come rushing back.
Step 1: Assemble ingredients. Step 2: Put them all in the Whizerator 5000. Step 3: Eat. Seriously, that’s all there is to it. But I’ve got pictures so I’m going to prolong this…
Also, a very important note: This is MY favorite hummus. When you make your hummus, keep notes so you’ll know next time if you’d like more or less of each ingredient. Just remember it’s best to give the hummus an hour or so to get to full flavor.
Always, always, always rinse canned beans. Chick peas are no exception. Let them drain while you get the rest of your ingredients together.
I have a Vitamix blender. I am unfortunately not compensated for this little infomercial but, can I tell you, this thing is awesome. I used to make hummus in my food processor but never got it quite as smooth as with the Vitamix. I love my Cuisinart but for this recipe I’d suggest first trying your blender, no matter the brand.
Because there are only five ingredients (six if you count salt), please use the finest available to you. Fresh squeezed lemon juice is far superior to the bottled concentrate. However, and I say this sincerely, in a pinch, I’d take hummus made with the bottled stuff over no hummus at all. But again, the real stuff is best. Same with garlic. I never use the pre-peeled or jarred stuff. It makes me nervous ever since I read about the link between garlic and botulism. But that may just be me. Feel free if you’re feeling lucky, punk. Ah, kidding. Kidding. Just seeing if you’re reading and, further, if you are a Clint Eastwood fan and get the reference.
This is the light creamy texture you are looking for. In my blender, it takes about 4 minutes total, scraping down the sides as I see fit.
Simple perfection. A tiny drizzle of a nice olive oil and/or a dab of spicy Sambal (or a similar such spicy kick if you’re up for it) and you’re ready to go. My lunch as I type is slices of hothouse cucumber dipped in hummus and sambal. Lovely.
Hummus Bi Tahini
2 – 15 oz. cans chickpeas (or 3 cups home-cooked)
1 Tbs (about 2-3 cloves) of garlic
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil (plus more for drizzling)
1/3 cup lemon juice (2-3 lemons)
1/2 cup tahini (sesame seed paste)
1/2 cup hot water
Thoroughly rinse and drain the chickpeas.
Put the olive oil, garlic, lemon juice and tahini into the blender and pulse to chop the garlic a bit. Add the drained chick peas and 1/4 cup of the hot water and blend until completely smooth and creamy. If the blender gets stuck or the hummus seems too thick, add the rest of the water as needed. You may even need more. If you add additional tahini or lemon juice, adjust water accordingly.
Best to let it sit for an hour or so to let the flavors meld though it is perfectly delicious immediately in case of hankering emergency. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator. Keeps at least three days. No idea beyond that; mine’s never around that long.