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Its getting pretty damn close to visiting season. You know, that time of year when impromptu visits to the neighbors-friends-family-coworker become more frequent and the need/want to throw together something yummy to take with becomes a more common occurrence. I love this time of year. It is a great excuse to make dips.

I think me and just about all of my Twitterati friends are dangerously close to needing a 12 step program for our dip problem…except for the part where we all have the same problem and if we had meetings about it there would be yet another reason to make dips. Peeps gotta eat, yo. Its a perpetuating problem. We should get together, have some dip and discuss.

You have to admit, though, dips are pretty perfect – more often than not they are easy to make, are pretty flavorful, can be sweet OR savory and you get to dip things in it. Who doesn’t love interactive food?!?

Hummus us a favorite of mine. It is a very traditional Middle Eastern dip made of mashed chickpeas, tahini, lemon & olive oil. Simple, delicious and versatile. So simple that I shake my head every time I walk past the pre-made stuff at the store and grab a can of chic peas to keep in the pantry instead. I can make a huge tub FRESH for the same amount you pay for one of those dinky 8oz tubs. And no preservatives or additives or weird flavorings…all real food. Chickpeas are high protein, low fat, high fiber and are generally healthy. Don’t tell my taste buds though; if they find out hummus is good for me they might not like it so much.

I remember the first time I ate a chickpea. My folks used to take us to Eat-n-Park for dinner just about weekly, where else could you go with 3 kids, not spend a fortune and not feel like a total ass when your kids acted like tools? It wasn’t a special night out, it was just dinner…where we had choices and someone brought us things we needed and mom didn’t cook. My sister & I usually only got the soup & salad bar. I was up building a salad, my Dad happened to be there. I asked him, for what was probably the eleventy thousandth time, what the little tan things were. He said chickpeas; I’ll have it noted up to that point I am willing to bet he had said garbanzo beans (not like I would really remember, that was why I needed to ask EVERY time we went to the salad bar, duh.) because there was NO way I was putting a garbanzo, a bean or for DAMN sure a garbanzo bean in my mouth…but I liked peas. So I took some. I distinctly remember him laughing, that evil laugh only a parent can muster when they KNOW they are torturing their children but causing no lasting damage, when I spit it out and accused him of trying to kill me with the most awful pea ever and lying to me because there was no way that was a pea or at all related to what was, at the time, my favorite vegetable. He laughed harder. He did that a lot. I must have been hysterical. Or something. I remember chickpeas being dry and just awful. I vowed to never eat them again.

Then I ate them again. And I loved them. I think that was on an Armstrong’s gigantor salad many moons after my dad’s food torture funtime, but either way I put them in and on lots of things, one of my most favorite chickpea delivery methods is hummus. I serve it as a dip with fresh vegetables, toasted flatbread, grilled pita, crackers, pretzels, chips. I use it as delicious glue on lettuce or tortilla wraps, in place of mayo on sandwiches…it fits deliciously in lots of places.

This recipe is for a very basic and traditional hummus, less than 10 ingredients total and can be mixed up in about 3 minutes in the food processor or with a hand blender. The only odd ingredient is tahini – an oily sesame paste I have seen in the ethnic food section of the grocery store, usually with the Middle Eastern stuff. It keeps for a long time, but if you dont have it and dont want to get it a little bit of peanut butter, half the amount of tahini, can be tossed in. I prefer the tahini, but the peanut butter is an adequate substitute.

This is a base recipe and the one I make most of the time when we are eating it, it is one of Hart’s favorite things for a finger foods on the porch dinner, but it is really quite simple. Dress it up if you want – crumbled feta, chopped olives, chopped herbs, spice it up with chopped jalapenos & cumin, sun dried tomato, roasted red peppers, use limes instead of lemons…go nuts!! If you want to see what you’re adding – like with the feta & olives – fold in to the finished hummus, if you want it incorporated – like roasted red pepper or sun dried tomato – add into the food processor and puree with the beans. Flavor it up how ever you like or enjoy the simplicity of the traditional version…either way get more hummus in your face!

Traditional Hummus yield – around 2 cups

  • 2 cans Chickpeas, drained
  • 2 Lemons, juice of both, zest of 1
  • 2 cloves Garlic, smashed
  • 2 Tbsp Kosher Salt
  • healthy amount Fresh Ground Black Pepper
  • 3 Tbsp Tahini Paste
  • 1/2 tsp Smoked Paprika
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Place all of the ingredients except the oil in the food processor and run until it is all finely chopped up – the mixture should be too dry to puree correctly – but get it well combined and the garlic chopped.

Slowly drizzle in the olive oil until the hummus gets smooth and starts to run easily – that’s how I know its ready, when all of the batch is spinning smoothly in my machine. Taste it and adjust your seasoning with more salt, pepper or lemon and serve. Seriously. Thats it. I put it in a bowl, and if someone other than Hart is going to be eating it, I drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and give it sprinkle of paprika to make it all pretty…but thats it.

Ok now go make this then hit me up so I can come over and quality control test it.

What? I do NOT have a dip problem.