I know I’m not alone in my love of houmous (yes that’s how we spell it in England). I was a late starter though. I managed to get through the first 18 years of my life without encountering it, which is odd given it has become such a popular kids’ food now. That first batch I tasted was made by an over-enthusiastic vegan university flatmate who made hers by mashing a can of chickpeas [garbanzo beans] with some sunflower oil in a measuring jug with a fork. With no seasoning. Safe to say, it wasn’t love at first bite.
What followed was a slightly, but on only slightly, improved experience in my twenties. On sunny days in London our friends would exchange texts and quickly organise weekend or after work picnics in parks where we routinely turned up without a blanket but with a supermarket bag containing a bottle of slightly warm, cheap wine; a tub of equally cheap supermarket houmous and a rubbery baguette. Each. The houmous and bread were only really a way to soak up the wine.
I only saw the light when I started going to Lebanese restaurants in London and realised that, when done right, houmous was obsession worthy. And from that day on I’ve tried to make my own. My recipe below is easy breezy, child-friendly and so delicious and nutritious. It uses store cupboard ingredients and can be ready in about 5 minutes.
My addition of the jar of roasted peppers makes it a little sweeter and balances out the slightly musty chickpeas. It also adds a little more in the nutrition department, which is no bad thing. Once combined with whole grain bread it creates a complete protein. And it is rich in iron, folate and vitamin B6. The olive oil is a great hit of good fat too. And it helps balance blood sugar levels. Sold?
Tahini is a paste made from sesame seeds. Think a sesame seed peanut butter. Buy a jar and start sneaking it into salad dressings, houmous and into any recipes that call for peanut butter. I recently made cookies with it in place of peanut butter and they were delicious (note to self – must blog those soon).
So how do we eat this houmous in our house. Let me count the ways. This recipe makes a big batch and lasts about 5 days in the fridge so you can try it in all sorts of ways. As you can see from the photos, we like it with toasted bread and veggies. I make up a big platter for a weekend lunch and we make our own sandwiches with it, or we dip our bread (often my buckwheat soda bread) and veggies into it. Later in the week I might thin it out with a little oil and red wine vinegar to make a gorgeous salad dressing. Sometimes I stir it through rice with some stir fried veggies and chicken. It is great on toast with slices of avocado and lemon juice. I use it in sandwiches with feta or sliced tomatoes. I love it with grated carrot, watercress and avocado on flatbread wraps or in baked potatoes.
2x 425g [15oz] cans chickpeas [garbanzo], drained and liquid discarded. You’ll be left with 570g [20oz] chickpeas when they are drained
1 lemon – juice and zest
1 large teaspoon tahini
3 tablespoons good extra virgin olive oil
1 jar red peppers, drained – the drained weight will be around 220g [7.75oz] I like the Trader Joe’s fire roasted red peppers
sea salt, freshly ground black pepper and red pepper flakes to taste
1. Drain the peppers and chickpeas and add them to the bowl of a food processor. Be sure to keep a couple of tablespoons of chickpeas in a small bowl for garnishing the finished houmous. Add the juice and zest of the lemon, the tahini, the oil and around a half teaspoon each of salt and black pepper. Add some red pepper flakes too if you want a little more of a kick.
2. Pulse the food processor until you have a smooth paste (see below). You will need to scrape the sides of the bowl a couple of times to make sure everything gets mixed in. Taste and add more lemon, salt, pepper or red pepper flakes as needed. The houmous will be quite liquid. Don’t worry. It will firm up when you put it in the fridge.
3. Serve in a shallow bowl with the whole chickpeas scattered on top, a drizzle of oil and some freshly ground black pepper.