There's a little restaurant in Pittsburgh's South Side that makes the best ever hummus. It's simple in taste as all the best things are and doesn't try to hide the fact that it's really not much more than well....chickpeas.
Roasted garlic? Sundried tomatoes? Pine nut? Olive? Southwest??! Not necessary. A hint of nutty tahini, a hint of sharp garlic, and one shining bright note of lemon is all that is needed to make the addicting dip I simply couldn't have often enough. The hummus at this restaurant is the creamiest hummus I've ever eaten and I found myself going there a little too often. I tried to break up my visits by purchasing pre-made hummus at my local grocery store but not a single one could even compare and I was growing a little embarrassed by how often I was visiting the restaurant and ordering only hummus and the soft, triangles of pita bread that came with it.
It was time to make it myself.
My first attempts were mediocre and a little too salty for my tastes which was easily explainable because I was using canned chickpeas. There was also a slightly gritty texture that I chalked up to having an older food processor with a not-so-sharp blade. One issue at a time, I told myself as I ate my way through several batches of sort of gritty, sort of salty hummus.
I purchased a bag of dried chickpeas, soaked them overnight, and then, the next morning, I cooked them until they were tender. When they finished cooking I went to scoop out some of the cooking water and I noticed things floating on top of the water. I looked closer and realized that they were chickpea skins. Having not used chickpeas in my cooking (nor really eaten any at all until my mid to late 20's!), I hadn't realized that they had skins and they could come off. I scooped a hot chickpea out of the pot and bounced it from hand to hand until it cooled some. Then, just like when peeling an almond, I put it between my fingers and pinched off the skin. It slid right off.
I did it again. And again. And again. That's when I started thinking about almonds and how if you eat a handful of almonds with their skins on you are left with teeny tiny bits of skin floating around in your mouth that is quite an unpleasant feeling....that felt awfully similar to how my gritty hummus felt in my mouth when I ate it.
This is where things got a little crazy. I proceeded to peel (skin?) a potful of chickpeas. It didn't take as long as I thought it would and I was finished in about fifteen minutes. I proceeded to make hummus with my newly naked chickpeas.
Creamiest hummus ever! Turns out, naked chickpeas DO make all the difference in the world. Put the radio on, turn on an episode of your favorite show, or enlist a helper. Do it. You won't regret it!
Hummus is a very subjective taste. Some people prefer it to have more garlic or more lemon flavor. I lean a little more towards the latter than the former but either way, be sure to stop the food processor often and taste your hummus and adjust it to your specific tastes!
2 cups cooked chickpeas, PEELED. Reserve some of the cooking water
1/2 cup tahini paste
2-3 cloves of garlic
juice of 1 small lemon
salt to taste
1. In a food processor, combine the chickpeas, tahini paste, and garlic. Puree until you have a thick mass.
2. Add half the lemon juice and about 1/4 cup of the water. With the food processor running, trickle in a little more water until the hummus is a consistency that you like. Add salt and more lemon to taste.
Serve with fresh baked pita, pita chips, vegetables, pretzel thins, or crackers. The hummus stores well in the fridge for up to a week.