the moveable feasts

Smoothest, Creamiest Hummus

with 25 comments

smoothest, creamiest hummus

After last week’s twenty-first-birthday-meets-exams-and-too-many-papers final days of the semester, I returned to Washington this past weekend to spend my last real summer vacation at home.  (By the way, thanks to those of you who gave me nice birthday wishes, they were so kind.) I figure I might as well live off my parents now while I still can before I’m unleashed out into what is commonly referred to as the “real world” a year from now.

And I must admit, I am already happily settling into this summer at home. I’ve been cooking and baking enough to make up for (and then some) my lack of what we’ll call “culinary creativity” during my final few weeks at school, when an omelet filled with random vegetables and cheese made up my dinner just about every other night.


pile it in

A lot of the things I had written down as things I would like to make this summer are from a Lebanese cookbook I got awhile back. This is, of course, affirming that I am still on that Middle Eastern cuisine kick, or at least a more specified, narrowed version of it. In fact, when I declared confidently this past weekend to my mom and sister that, “guys, Lebanese food is the best cuisine in the WORLD,” my sister didn’t even look back at me while saying, “oh my god that’s the third time I’ve heard that.”

Anyway, at the top of that list of things to make was hummus—but not just any type of hummus. I wanted hummus that was silky smooth, thick, and incredibly creamy. A hummus that wasn’t overpowered by the taste of garlic, but that was subdued and mild, save for a strong, clear presence of tahini.

snatches and bites

This is, of course, the description of the hummus I’ve grown to love from a Lebanese-Greek restaurant in my town. I had always enjoyed making (and eating) hummus the way my mom taught me, but after tasting the hummus from that restaurant, hummus of my dreams!, I realized I had to figure out a way to make it at home.

After consulting and following this awesome post from Ruth Reichl, I produced the hummus shown here—yes, the very hummus of my dreams. It was exactly what I wanted, and I’m going to go ahead and say that judging by the way my mom and sister spooned it up on pita and vegetables, it was what they were wanting too even if they didn’t realize it at the time. I think that what makes this hummus special is that 1.) it requires garbanzo beans cooked from scratch. Not only is the flavor better, but the texture of freshly cooked beans is especially tender. Soaking the beans overnight in baking soda before cooking them ensures this tenderness. 2.) The skins from the cooked garbanzo beans are removed. A bit of a time intensive task, but c’mon? Who doesn’t love mindless, relaxing things like tending after a big bowl of garbanzo beans? And finally, 3.) Lots and lots of tahini. And no olive oil, save for the garnish. I thought this sounded a bit weird, but trust me! Watch your food processor whir away (basically) nothing but a pile of garbanzo beans and tahini into a velvety smooth paste. It’s awesome.

smoothest, creamiest hummus

I realize that it would be a little unrealistic of me to believe that I am never going to make hummus another way again. After all, on those sunny summer afternoons when I want some homemade hummus to snack on, it would be most definitely impossible to produce overnight-soaked and freshly cooked and chilled beans out of thin air. That being said, I can assure you that given there is enough time in advance, it is this recipe for hummus that I’m going to turn to in the future. I understand also that everyone has their own preferences for hummus—some like it spicy with garlic, or chunky maybe. But if you want the hummus I described above—amazingly smooth, subdued in flavor with tahini taking center-stage—give this recipe a try.

up close

I served mine in a shallow platter in order to get the largest amount of surface area I could for topping the hummus with good olive oil, toasted pine nuts, and sumac. I love eating it with warmed, toasted wedges of pita bread and some sliced vegetables like red bell peppers and carrots, but I have to tell you my absolutely favorite way of eating it is with big piles of tabbouleh on top. The bright, lemony parsley salad with the richly creamy hummus is an incredible combination.  Now, tabbouleh, that is a recipe I need to conquer but haven’t yet. Anyone have any great recipe recommendations?

a grab

Adapted from Ruth Reichl
Makes about 4 cups

1 3/4 cups dried garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
1 tablespoon baking soda plus ¼ teaspoon baking soda
Scant 1/2 cup tahini paste
1 lemon, juiced, or more to taste
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt, or more to taste

olive oil
pine nuts, toasted (optional)
sumac, paprika, cumin or zahtar (optional)

Rinse the garbanzo beans and discard any small stones or funny looking beans. Put them in a medium-large bowl with enough water to cover the beans by a few inches. Stir in a tablespoon of baking soda and let soak overnight. The baking soda allows for the beans to be extra tender once cooked.

Once soaked, drain and rinse the garbanzo beans and put them in a large pot with enough water to cover the beans by at least two inches. Add the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda. (Don’t be tempted to add salt while they cook—this will only cause them to cook unevenly.) Bring the water to a boil, then turn down the heat to a low, steady simmer and cover. In the beginning of this process, white foam will gather at the surface of the water—this comes from gases being released by the beans while being cooked. Skim off the foam and continue to cook, covered, over low heat until the chickpeas are very soft. This should take about 1 1/2 hours. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid.

Once slightly cooled, rub the garbanzo beans to remove the skins while rinsing them under cold running water. This is something of a time-consuming process, but it’s worth it. Once the skins have been removed, refrigerate the beans until ready to be made in the hummus. The coolness of the beans will translate into a smoother hummus later on.

Once cooled, Put the garbanzo beans, tahini, lemon juice, minced garlic, salt, and the reserved 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid in a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Process for a good 3 or 4 minutes, until it is smooth and creamy. Reichl compares the texture to that of “just-made frozen custard.” Taste for salt and lemon juice. If the texture is too thick to your liking, add a few tablespoons or so of the reserved cooking liquid.

Top with a few good glugs of good olive oil, toasted pine nuts, or some spices like sumac, paprkia, cumin, or zahtar. Serve with toasted pita bread wedges.


I gave this little to-go container of the hummus to my sister so she could take it back up with her to Seattle. She said she’ll share it with her architecture department friends—apparently they love hummus but didn’t know it could be made from scratch. (What?!)

Written by Amy

May 15, 2012 at 11:09 pm

25 Responses

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  1. Amy – that is the smoothest, tastiest looking hummus I’ve seen in a long time. There is NO hummus in Zürich, well that’s a lie there is some at one store, but still it’s not as prevalent as it is in the states. Anyway I tried to make hummus last year and it was terrible. I think it all comes to taking off the skin, which I didn’t do.

    I just finished Ruth Reichl’s memoir Tender at the Bone yesterday! It was a fun and interesting read. It’s also scattered with recipes, which I need to try. You should read it to calm your brain after exams.


    May 16, 2012 at 10:21 am

    • Oh no, I hope you give it another try! I really think removing the skin makes a big difference, as pesky a task as it is to do. I still don’t understand how you can survive as an expat without good mexican or asian food. Good gosh I would go crazy without some good carne asada or some chicken satay and peanut sauce. Oh well, more reason for us to figure them out and try them ourselves. :)

      Ahh and I love food memoirs that are peppered with recipes… I have to check that one out.


      May 16, 2012 at 8:14 pm

  2. I’m a huge fan of hummus, and the final frontier for me will be making it from the dried beans. I have made my own tahini, so this will be the next step for me on my way to a transcendent hummus! Love your photos, as always, and thanks for the inspiration.


    May 16, 2012 at 2:34 pm

    • I think the from-scratch beans make a big difference, I hope you give it a try! And in the meantime I have to try out making tahini from scratch– now THAT is inspiring!


      May 16, 2012 at 8:14 pm

  3. Middle eastern food is amazing, amazing, and as much as I’ve loved having it all over the world, I still remember the first time I went there and ate locally, blew my mind, didn’t know food could taste like. By the way same is true for Greek food, in fact in Greece I always order some non-greek food as well, cause it’s all so impressive. The fries alone, wow.
    I add a little cumin to hummus and a little chili flakes to the top. I am actually Western Armenian, but we make a lot of Lebanese food, and if you ever come across a book by Alice Bezjian, called Complete Armenian Cookbook, buy it, it’s basically Lebanese food and that women is amazing,(There I go saying amazing again. )


    May 16, 2012 at 2:54 pm

    • Oh wow, thanks so much for the recommendation! I’ve been dying to visit Armenia, that’s so cool that you’re from there. I’ll definitely keep an eye out for that book, it sounds fantastic. Also, I love the idea of adding red chili pepper flakes on the top of the hummus, I am definitely trying that out next time I make it.


      May 16, 2012 at 8:25 pm

  4. Amy, your hummus looks absolutely delicious! I love how smooth and creamy it is with those little crunchy bits of pine nut sprinkled over the top. Homemade hummus is so much more delicious than anything you can buy in the shops. Yum!


    May 17, 2012 at 4:53 am

  5. Ah, this is clearly the hummus I need to make. My standby has been the Cook’s Illustrated “Ultimate Hummus” for the past few years, but Octavian always complains about it not being silky like the stuff at the Middle Eastern restaurant down the street. Once I’m done with school work in a couple of weeks, I’m sure that he’ll be able to persuade me that my time would be best spent taking the skins off chickpeas and making some of this hummus.


    May 17, 2012 at 8:15 am

    • Haha, I had no idea hummus was suppose to be so incredibly silky until I tried it out in the middle eastern restaurants. I hope you give it a try, Katie! Let me know if Octavian finds it satisfactory. :)


      May 17, 2012 at 12:53 pm

  6. Aaahhh Amy, that looks aaamazing! I totally need to try the smoothest and creamiest hummus because I trust your opinion and those photos are mouthwatering. What a sweet sister you are to pack up hummus. Does that really make a difference, taking off the skins? I’ve never done that before. And I agree, I like mindless tasks like that, including pitting cherries and pulling peas from their pods ;) Bookmarking! thanks, can’t wait to try!


    May 17, 2012 at 10:30 am

    • I’ve never made hummus from freshly made garbanzo beans without taking off the skins so I don’t really have anything to compare it with, but I certainly would like to think it made a big difference! If you spend the extra time peeling off the skins, tell me how it compares with your usual hummus. And thanks for the birthday comment, yes 21 does seem young but to me it also seems old, too. :)


      May 17, 2012 at 12:55 pm

  7. And happy belated birthday!! Hope it was a good one! Wow, to be 21 again! :)


    May 17, 2012 at 10:31 am

  8. Happy belated Birthday lil one!!! I hope you had a fabulous day. It’s also so funny that you should post this because hummus is the possibly the final thing (apart from pizza and sourdough bread!) that I just can’t seem to do better than I can buy it… so I just always buy ready made. BUT, although I can understand that sourdough starters are perhaps best left to the professionals, the inability to correctly puree beans has seemed (even to me) pretty freaking ridiculous. Ive also heard the thing about beans from scratch being the key and I can TOTALLY get that. Ive also heard boiling them with some herbs and spices is good..?? I might try doing your recipe and making that small adjustment. The whole fact that I don’t make my own hummus is also doubly insane because in ENgland I pretty much live off the stuff. My favorite way is COVERED in hot sauce (so authentic I know) with raw tender stem broccoli dippers. Super healthy and so delicious – and surprisingly filling. I can’t wait to see what you cook up over the summer!! :) Lots of Love Em xox

    Em (Wine and Butter)

    May 17, 2012 at 2:03 pm

    • Haha sometimes I am not sure whether I should leave certain things “up to the professionals.” Like making croissants at home, for example. It sounds fun to try it out, but in the end I think my efforts might be better spent handing over the $1 for a perfect buttery, crispy pastry from the experts. That being said I think you’re right about great hummus being pretty assessable to the home cook. ;) And eating it with raw broccoli stems sounds amazing!! I have to try that out next time I make this batch.


      May 21, 2012 at 4:34 pm

  9. This looks fabulous! I have never made my own hummus, but I don’t have a good excuse as to why I haven’t! Hummus is one of my favorite snacks though, so this is a must-try! You’ve won me over with the “smoothest, creamiest” description in the title! ;)


    May 17, 2012 at 2:34 pm

  10. This recipe looks great! I, also, have been looking for a way to make my hummus creamier and more like the one I get at my local Lebanese restaurant. One thing that I have found that helps is to make a tahini cream first (using an immersion blender to froth my tahini and lemon juice together before blending with the chickpeas), but I am definitely going to try doing my own beans and shelling them like you did. If you are looking for a new topping for your hummus, I love ordering the meat topped kind like in this recipe ( – haven’t tried making it myself but the one they serve at Lebanese Taverna in MD is to die for!


    May 20, 2012 at 9:55 pm

    • Thanks for the tip, Carrie, I’m going to try that lemon tahini slurry next time I make a batch of hummus. And yeah, definitely try out from-scratch beans if you haven’t already. Cooking them in a bit of baking soda makes them extra tender and smooth when pureed. And thanks for the link — it looks SO good, and I’ve been meaning to start cooking with lamb more!


      May 21, 2012 at 4:36 pm

  11. Been making humus for 25 years and my pita and tabbouleh and falafal. Great recipes from Bon Appetite.


    May 21, 2012 at 6:43 am

  12. You could use a food mill to remove the skins from the beans en masse. It goes much faster than doing them one by one.


    May 21, 2012 at 5:52 pm

    • Ah, yet another reason to get a food mill. Will note it in the recipe in case others have a food mill. Thanks, Kate.


      May 22, 2012 at 8:55 am

  13. Humus bir arap yemeğidir. Biz Türk’ler de çok severiz. Fotoğraflar harika canım!


    May 22, 2012 at 4:21 am

  14. I just made this! And…. I LOVE IT! I’ve been looking for a staple hummus recipe and now I’ve found it! I won’t be making hummus from a can anymore! Best tip: let the beans cool.


    July 26, 2012 at 7:03 pm

    • I’m so glad you liked it! Yeah, this has definitely become my “go-to” recipe, too. In fact, I just made a batch of it yesterday. :D


      July 26, 2012 at 7:30 pm

  15. wow, you cooked the garbanzo beans? WOW. I am amazed. You go girl. This hummus looks awesome!


    August 4, 2012 at 10:13 pm

  16. I blanche sliced onions in boiling water, drain, rinse in cold water and then I store them in a container with beet juice and a little apple cider vinegar. I serve these pink pickled onions on top of ther hummus. They are decorative and delicious and no raw taste. I think you will like it.


    June 23, 2013 at 11:16 pm

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