Real-food Hummus on the fly

Real food hummus lunch photo
Small servings of hummus can be made easily without a food processor.

Hummus is high on a healthy food scale. The main ingredient is beans, a vegetable source of protein that costs little. The additions are simple, whole ingredients without down-sides. To buy ready-made hummus is costly, and to make it, easy. Throw ingredients in a food processor — done. However, I usually take it one step down the simplicity scale by skipping the food processor for small quantities of hummus.

Hummus is traditionally made with garbanzo beans (chick peas). I’ve made hummus out of a variety of beans, and it is always great. The garlic and sesame flavor is what makes hummus, hummus, so a different type of bean makes little difference.

For this meal, I used a mix of my home-grown beans, cooked slowly and then frozen in  one cup lots. Canned beans work just as well. I always rinse canned beans in a colander to reduce the salt and remove any glutenous liquid. Shake the colander to remove as much water as possible. Note: If you only need a couple of servings of hummus from a can of beans, put the remaining beans in a freezer bag, label, and freeze. Beans freeze very well.

Start by mashing the beans in a flat bowl or plate with a fork. When the beans are almost mashed enough, add garlic to taste, a tablespoon of lemon juice, a splash of olive oil,  and tahini (sesame seed paste) to taste. I used about one tablespoon.

I prefer to buy tahini at the bulk food store, since I can buy small amounts, although it does keep well. No tahini? Use a little sesame seed oil. No oil? Add some sesame seeds. No seeds? How can you live without sesame flavor from some source? Start with oil. It really livens up an Asian stir-fry, and it comes in small bottles.

Mash all the ingredients together. At this point, the mixture is usually too dry, unless you have used softer canned beans. You want the mixture to hold its shape, but be creamy. My choice to add liquid is chicken stock. You can add a little more olive oil if you can afford the extra fat, or use water.

Now spice to taste. I love Hot Salt, which really perks up the taste. Salt and pepper is usually enough. My home-grown bean mix produces a less-than-desirable, grayish color, so I usually generously sprinkle chopped parsley on top. One cup of beans makes two servings.

Serve this with crackers or pita bread triangles, and vegetables for a snack. Add a small salad or soup, and you have a luxury lunch. Once you have made hummus a few times, you will find it is takes no longer than making a sandwich, yet it delivers nutritional punch that most quick sandwiches can’t equal.

For larger quantities, it makes sense to drag out the food processor. Add all of the ingredients above and pulse until you have a uniform paste. I like hummus that has a bit of texture to it, so I’m careful not to over-process.

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