Thursday, May 17, 2012


Hummus is one of the wonders of the culinary world.  It looks about like what I imagined when I read that some poor bedraggled character in an old British novel, like Oliver Twist, had nothing to eat but mush.

I can’t remember when I first tried it, but I know it was after a long period of resistance.  Now, I love it, I like all kinds: I like the jalepeno-cilantro hummus offered by Trader Joe’s, and I like the basic garbanzo bean-based hummus recipe in my vegan cookbook, Veganomicon.  My all-time favorite, however, was the black bean hummus that my family used to buy from a local establishment in Greenville, SC that recently closed its doors. 

With that black bean hummus in mind, I decided several days ago to make my own—from scratch…and by that I mean all the way from dry black beans.

I handled the black beans by the book: boiled a pound of them in water for two minutes and then let them sit for two hours.  I drained them, put them in the fridge, and came back to them today.  I took two cups of those beans, boiled them again for about another ninety minutes, when they were soft enough to smush.  I drained them, dumped them in my food processor, and started adding other ingredients: two tablespoons of tahini, the juice of one lemon, half a small sweet onion (which I got from Parisi Farms at the Uptown Greenwood Farm Stands), three big cloves of garlic, about a tablespoon of diced pickled jalapeños, a teaspoon of salt, a teaspoon of pepper, about a half teaspoon of cumin, and about a quarter teaspoon of chili powder (remember, this ain’t a cookbook—I didn’t really measure anything and I’m just recreating this all by memory).  Then I started processing it as I streamed in extra virgin olive oil, probably about ½ a cup, until I reached the consistency I wanted.

My end result is glorious: creamy but retaining some texture, garlicky, a little smoky (thanks to the cumin), a little spicy, a little salty.  And starting with two cups of black beans gave me enough hummus to enjoy tonight and have enough left over to show off to my friends on Friday night.  Next time I’ll add cilantro or parsley; I might use a chipotle pepper or adobo sauce in the place of the jalapeño and lemon juice—if you read this blog you know how I feel about chipotle peppers and adobo sauce.  Whatever the case, I have arrived at my new base recipe for black bean hummus.

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