Hummus, on standby

If I can avoid it, I won’t call my mother in the evenings. She is retired, loves to cook, and each night is a culinary adventure in her home. I’ve had to call her twice in the past week after 5:00 p.m., and both times I’ve hung up the phone envious of her dinner plans. Monday night she made fried chicken with roasted potatoes, chicken gravy, and green beans with almonds — I don’t even like chicken very much, and I wanted to hop a plane to Kansas to get my hands on the leftovers.

This month has been overwhelmingly busy for my family. Mealtime has stopped being adventurous and has been nothing but tried-and-true standbys. When I was a kid and my mom worked three jobs, her cooking repertoire wasn’t all that varied, either. Monday night was taco night, Tuesdays we had ham and cheese casserole, Wednesdays were homemade pizzas, and so on and so forth throughout the rest of the week. We only had things like my mom’s famous fried chicken when stress levels lifted.

My family isn’t yet at the point where we have the same meal each Monday night, but we are only having things made from recipes I’ve committed to memory. I’m not trying anything new — I simply don’t have the mental energy right now.

One of our family’s standby recipe is hummus. We’ll have it as a side to an entree, an appetizer, or an afternoon snack. It doesn’t look incredibly appetizing (and I am far from being the world’s best photographer), but it’s yummy and nutritious. It’s rich in protein, dietary fiber, folate, copper, calcium, and iron. Best of all, it is incredibly easy to make.


  • 19 oz can of chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained
  • 1/3 cup tahini
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 2 cloves garlic — either raw, minced and sauteed, or not included if you use garlic salt instead of the previously listed Kosher salt
  • For finishing: 1/2 tsp extra virgin olive oil and an 1/8 tsp smoked or sweet paprika

Pour drained chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, and salt into your blender. If you want a strong, almost stinging quality in your hummus, toss two raw cloves of garlic into the blender, too. If you want a mild garlic flavor, first mince and lightly saute the garlic in a teaspoon of olive oil, strain, and then add the garlic to the blender. If you want a hint of garlic, use garlic salt instead of Kosher salt.

Blend the ingredients together until smooth, it should have a similar appearance to a milkshake. If you don’t want to use your blender, you can also use a food processor or a hand blender.

When serving, garnish with 1/2 teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil and an 1/8 teaspoon smoked or sweet paprika. Use as a spread or a dip with pita or raw carrots. From start to finish, this recipe should take less than 5 minutes to prepare. This recipe makes approximately 2-1/2 cups of hummus.

Optional additions

  • Olive lovers might want to add 1/3 cup Kalamata olives, drained
  • Use cooked white beans instead of chickpeas for a white bean dip
  • Roast or grill a poblano or jalapeno pepper, remove the skin, and blend it in for a peppery kick
  • Add 2 teaspoons massaman curry powder for a Thai influence
  • Add 2 teaspoons Indian curry powder for an Indian influence

What are some of your standby recipes? Tell us your favorites in the comments.

17 comments posted

  1. Posted by Sheryl - 02/24/2011

    The last time I made hummus I added about a teaspoon of cumin, on the advice of a Lebanese friend. Wow! It really took it up a notch! :-)

  2. Posted by Erin Doland - 02/24/2011

    @Sheryl — Mmmmmmm. Cumin would be a nice addition. Thanks for the suggestion!

  3. Posted by Kate - 02/24/2011

    I recently made hummus using edamame instead of chickpeas — yummy and a nice green color. I love having hummus and cucumbers as an afternoon snack or adding it as a spread to sandwiches.

  4. Posted by Meg - 02/24/2011

    Mmmmm! I love hummus! I like cumin in it, too. I also like black bean hummus, hummus with sun-dried tomatoes, hummus with lentils and barley, hummus with pesto, hummus with cilantro, hummus with eggplant, all sorts of hummus combos.

    It’s also fantastic on a toasted bagel in the morning for breakfast.

    For more tips and additions, check out the long comments section of this recipe:

  5. Posted by Becky - 02/24/2011

    We make our hummus with taco seasoning; just the premade kind. It is delicious!
    Our standy recipes are some kind of grilled meat and roasted veggies. Not really a recipe at all, but delicious.

  6. Posted by HappyGuy - 02/24/2011

    Hummus is awesome on just about anything. We use to buy these little prepackaged hummus containers for over $4 and now we make it at home. It’s much less expensive and you can make way more than what you get in a package – not to mention that YOU decide what goes in it :)

  7. Posted by Sarah - 02/24/2011

    Cilantro Lime Hummus is amazing. I made it and wrote about it here… The recipe is from here:

  8. Posted by sandie - 02/25/2011

    Thank you everyone for the ideas and variations.
    Had never thought of curry powder or taco mix as additions, yum. I also use lime juice as a change from lemon.
    I make my own hummus, crazy to spend money on a tiny and usually unappetising little mess in a plastic container. Sometimes I even soak dried beans, how virtuous am I?.

  9. Posted by Shae - 02/25/2011

    I roast red bell pepper and toss it in the blender with the other ingredients, and I don’t remove the skin. I’m not sure why you would — when I make it I don’t get any skin bits, it blends up nice and smooth. The skin probably adds to the flavor too.

  10. Posted by Noelle - 02/25/2011

    I love hummus, but my husband won’t touch it. Has anyone had success freezing hummus?

  11. Posted by Erin Doland - 02/25/2011

    @Shae — Removing the skin, at least for me, is more about peeling off the black spots. It turns the hummus dark in my experience.

    @Noelle — I’ve never tried freezing it. Anyone else know?

  12. Posted by Jenny - 02/25/2011

    I make my own hummus as well. I use a whole head of garlic in mine, but I roast it first in the toaster oven, and it doesn’t taste overly garlicky at all, in fact, I add a little raw to up the flavor a little. I also use curry powder to flavor mine (not nearly 2 tsp though), and a little chicken oxo powder as well. I can’t find tahini here that isn’t ridiculously expensive, but I find my hummus is pretty good without it.

  13. Posted by BarbiWalker - 02/26/2011

    Hello Erin,

    I love that you have added this to your collection of simple living tools! I’d like to add a suggestion to your hummus recipe if I may.

    I like to use the hummus as filler for deviled eggs. Instead of the egg yolks (which I give to the dog) I place a dollop of hummus in the center of the hard boiled egg, sprinkle with paprika and slivered almonds. This is a great way to up protein intake or make a healthy alternative for pot lucks.

    I cannot tell you how many times people rave about them at parties!



  14. Posted by Jonathan - 02/26/2011

    Reserve some of the liquid the garbanzos cooked in and substitute that for all but 1 tbsp of the tahini for a lower-fat and just as yummy version.

  15. Posted by GMTBillings - 02/28/2011

    After a long week of work and errands, this conversation usually occurs in my kitchen on Friday evenings:

    “Hon! What are we having for dinner?” He cooks, I clean and bake. It works out.
    “I dunno. Whaddayawant.”
    “We have . . . eggs, bacon, pasta . . .” (When we buy bacon, we immediately split up the slices into single portions and freeze them.)
    His ears prick up and he closes his book. “Carbonara?” He’s never been the same since he read Ruth Reichl’s Garlic and Sapphires, where her recipe for pasta carbonara is ruthlessly simple and delicious.

    Maybe fifteen minutes later, it’s dinner, with a glass of sauvignon blanc. We won’t have it more than once a week because it’s quite rich, but whenever we’re tired of chicken and vegetables, we can throw this together easily.

  16. Posted by Meg - 02/28/2011

    @Erin and Shae,

    Removing the skins is a pain in the you know what, but it can actually make for a smoother hummus — like Sabra smooth.

  17. Posted by gypsy packer - 03/06/2011

    I use dark sesame oil for a tastier, lighter version of hummus, add some fat-free yogurt, and top it with green onions.
    I’ve also eaten it with sunflower seeds substituted for the tahini, and it was great.

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