Hummus, for Purists

More than ever, we, as a society of human beings, can’t let great things go unchanged.

We jump too hard on the bandwagon, turning perfectly acceptable things like Doritos and mozzarella sticksIMGP4920 into 7-11’s latest gruesome impulse buy.

We don’t feel guilty/satisfied enough watching strangers on TV live in a house together and have their lives taped, so we decide it would be more entertaining to have already awkward first dates, in the nude.

We (American Apparel) decide that the timeless/always flattering raglan baseball t-shirt is basic in a bad way, and so we cut it in half.

These days we let tradition slide to make room for confusing, increasingly diluted words like “innovation.” Not that I’m completely adverse to trying new things, or opposed to improvements (let’s be honest, Chipotle won my heart 4 lyfe when they debuted Sofritas). It’s just that nothing, not even hummus, seems to be sacred any more.

On a recent pilgrimage to Philadelphia, we kept up with our road trip tradition of lunch at a very particular Panera in Western Pennsylvania’s sleepiest of towns, Irwin (PA turnpike exit 67, for anyone making vehicular vacation plans.)

Panera, like the rest of the fast food sandwich world, is promoting a new line of flatbread sandos to cater to the needs of the half-hearted PiYo and Paleo devotees that aren’t ready to cut carb ties forever.

Despite my known aversion to flatbread “pizza,” I was willing to try a sandwich variation. Until, after scanning through the options, I was presented with 4 sandwiches each tainted by some form of experimental hummus.

Curried lentil hummus. Cilantro jalapeño hummus. Black bean hummus (a.k.a. just blended beans, right?)

I can understand and indulge in wacko flavor combinations when it comes to things like bramble berry ice cream and pickle potato chips. But hummus, literally one of the most classic, ancient foodstuffs known to [wo]man, deserves the same respect as, say, black Ray-Bans or a Hershey bar wrapper.

My ire most likely stems from the fact that hummus was what I “cooked” before I realized I could (or wanted to) cook. I’m proud to say that I’ve been following this recipe (online origin, unfortunately, unknown) for 4+ years, always referring to the Andy Warhol memo pad (origin, high school) that I scribbled it into. Mind you, this “recipe” sits next to a doodle of the word “anuptaphobia” (=the fear of staying single), in case you needed a deeper look into my 19 year old psyche.

Armed with this recipe, you can overcome your own case of anuptaphobia, or attract the kind of long-term mate that appreciates your mad respect for tradition.

Classic hummus
Makes 4-6 servings; Adapted from my high school era memo pad

1 can chickpeas, drained
1/4 c. fresh lemon juice
1/4 c. olive oil (plus more to taste)
1 clove garlic
A pinch of red pepper flakes
A drop or three of hot sauce

You will read hummus recipes that say to use dry chickpeas or remove their skins or invest in tahini. Frankly, it’s not worth the time or $.

Take all of the ingredients above, except for the olive oil, and blend in a food processor until just smooth. Drizzle in the oil as it’s blending.

The measurements listed above are completely foundational. 2-3 cloves of garlic can be used if that’s just how you live. Same goes for the pepper and hot sauce. If it seems a tad dry, add in slightly more olive oil. Definitely squeeze some fresh lemon juice though; it’s brightness can’t be denied or substituted.

Refrigerate in a bowl for at least an hour (if you can stand the wait.) Serve with chips, vegetables, naan/pita, etc. Or just a spoon.


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