January 8, 2014

Among all the cheeses, desserts, and other indulgences at our Christmas party, I try to include something healthy, and hummus has become a staple. I usually end up making it several other times throughout the year, because it’s so fast and easy (and cheap!) to throw together. I personally prefer homemade hummus to that sold at the store, and it doesn’t take any ingredients that I don’t normally keep in my pantry. The one slightly unusual ingredient, tahini, keeps for a long time in the pantry or fridge (I keep mine right next to the peanut butter), so I buy a large jar to have on hand.

Although I usually make it super-fast with canned chickpeas, this time I made what Cook’s Illustrated calls “Ultimate hummus,” made with dried chickpeas. This version requires a little more forethought because the dried chickpeas require an overnight soak plus an hour of simmering time. Was this extra time worth it? Just for fun, I also made the canned chickpea version to do a side-by-side taste test. (Actually I made it because my husband really wanted hummus RIGHT NOW and couldn’t wait until the party the next day, but we’ll pretend it was for science.) My husband actually preferred the canned chickpea variety, while I liked the one made with dried chickpeas slightly better. Final verdict? Make whatever you have time for, and don’t feel like you’re “cheating” using canned garbanzos. I’ve included both versions of the recipe below. Enjoy!


Hummus can be made through step 2 and refrigerated for up to 5 days; refrigerate garnishes separately. When ready to serve, stir in approximately 1 tablespoon of warm water if texture is too thick.

Makes about 2 cups


  • 1/4  cup water
  • 3  tablespoons lemon juice
  • 6  tablespoons tahini
  • 2  tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • 1  (15 ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed
  • 1  small garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2  teaspoon salt
  • 1/4  teaspoon ground cumin
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1  tablespoon minced fresh cilantro or parsley


  1. Combine water and lemon juice in small bowl or measuring cup. Whisk together tahini and 2 tablespoons oil in second small bowl. Set aside 2 tablespoon chickpeas for garnish.
  2. Process remaining chickpeas, garlic, salt, cumin, and cayenne in food processor until finely ground, about 15 seconds. Scrape down bowl with rubber spatula. With machine running, add lemon juice mixture in steady stream. Scrape down bowl and continue to process or 1 minute. With machine running, add tahini mixture in steady stream; continue to process until hummus is smooth and creamy, about 15 seconds, scraping down bowl as needed.
  3. Transfer hummus to serving bowl, sprinkle reserved chickpeas and herbs over surface, cover with plastic wrap, and let stand at room temperature until flavors meld, about 30 minutes. Drizzle with olive oil and serve.

Ultimate version

Pick through and rinse ½ cup dried chickpeas. Place beans in large bowl, cover with 1 quart water, and soak overnight. Drain. Bring chickpeas, 1/8 teaspoon baking soda, and 1 quart water to boil in a large saucepan over high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, until chickpeas are tender, about 1 hour. Drain, reserving ¼ cup cooking water, and cool. Continue with recipe, replacing tap water with reserved cooking water.

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