Why Almond Hummus?There are three good reasons for making almond hummus with almond butter instead of the traditional hummus that is made with tahini, a sesame seed paste.
- Almond hummus is delicious and most people cannot tell the difference between almond hummus and traditional hummus.
- Americans frequently keep almond butter in their pantry, but may not keep tahini, much less good quality tahini. Sourcing high quality tahini is a bit hit or miss in the U.S. Additionally, tahini will go rancid over time. Rancid tahini will not make delicious hummus!
- Many people are allergic or have food sensitivity to sesame seeds. In fact, 300,000 Americans have sesame seed allergies and and more have some degree of sesame sensitivity. In fact, sesame seeds are the ninth most common food allergy behind dairy, eggs, tree nuts, peanuts, shellfish, wheat, soy and fish.
Food SensitivitiesI have raging arthritis that is causing me significant problems in my spine, feet and hands. In an effort to reduce inflammation in my body I recently tested for food sensitivities and discovered I have a sensitivity to sesame. This crushed me, as I love a good hummus and have consciously been switching to hummus and crudités as an easy and healthy appetizer that helps me minimize my cheese and cracker intake. Don't get me wrong, I adore cheese, it just doesn't adore me nearly as much as I love it!
Traditional HummusHummus is traditionally made with chickpeas (also called garbanzo beans), tahini (sesame seed paste), olive oil, lemon, cumin and garlic. The tahini adds flavor and a distinct richness to hummus. For almond hummus, almond butter does exactly the same thing; it adds flavor and richness. You can make traditional hummus using this almond hummus recipe by substituting tahini for the almond butter. Use about 1/3 cup of tahini per 15-ounce can of chickpeas or two cups of dried chickpeas.
Pro Tricks to Making Smooth, Delicious HummusBeyond your ingredients there are a few tricks to making great hummus. These apply to either almond hummus or traditional hummus:
1) Dried vs. Canned ChickpeasTraditionalists will insist that dried chickpeas result in a better tasting hummus with superior texture. This may be so, but in my opinion, this is not the most important factor in making a great hummus. The reality is, there are many times you want a quick appetizer, and canned chickpeas are the way to get there. Alternatively, you can soak your dried chickpeas overnight, drain them, and cook them the next day, until the chickpeas are soft. Cooking time will depend on freshness of the chickpeas. It is not hard to make hummus with dried chickpeas; it just takes time and planning.
2) Removing the Chickpea SkinsMany cooks swear the secret to ultra smooth hummus is to remove the skins from the humus. After testing, I wholeheartedly agree. You can skip this step and you will get a good hummus. Or you can embrace removing the skins and achieve amazing, smooth and utterly addictive hummus. Here are the methods I have used to remove the skins:
- Drain, grab and roll -- Drain the chickpeas into a colander and grab a small handful at a time and roll them between your palms. The skins will magically loosen. Try to remove the majority of the skins, but don't worry if a few are left behind. Your hummus will still be amazing.
- Individual removal - Grab a chickpea and squeeze it between your index finger and your thumb. The chickpea will squirt out leaving the skin between your fingers. For me, if I have time, this method is almost meditative and weirdly satisfying. Once I removed the skins from 8 15-ounce cans of chickpeas for a massive dinner party I was having. I spread the work out over two days, but I will admit, that was a little much. It provided me with incentive to find a better way. Which leads me to the next point.
- Baking soda - Adding baking soda works for both dried and canned chickpeas. The baking soda serves to break down the pectin, soften the peas and dissolve the skins. For dried chickpeas: put a teaspoon of baking soda in the soaking water with three cups of dried chickpeas. Rinse and drain the next day. Add another teaspoon of baking soda to the cooking water.
- For canned chickpeas: rinse and drain them and put them in a pot and cover with water. Add 1/2 t baking soda to the water, bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer for 20 minutes. The skins will literally dissolve into mushy little clumps. You won't be able to manually remove the skins even if you want to. Drain and rinse the chickpeas, removing any undissolved clumps of chickpea skin. The only downside to this method is that it greatly reduces the volume of your hummus, but what amazing hummus it will be! Be careful not to add too much baking soda or it will change the flavor.
3) Cooking Your Canned ChickpeasA good friend of mine swears cooking the chickpeas is not necessary. I agree with her in a pinch, but if you have an extra 20 minutes, by all means cook the chickpeas with a little baking soda as described above. Cooking helps not only remove the skins, but it helps break down the chickpeas, which results in a smoother humus.
4) Processing timeProlonged processing time is the most important step to making an ultra smooth hummus. Do this even if you don't remove the skins and your hummus will be significantly better for it. I process my hummus in a food processor for a good five minutes. If you watch your food processor, you will see the hummus color change and become lighter as you process the ingredients. As the color changes so does the texture. I learned this trick after eating at Alon Shaya's Denver restaurant, Safta. I bought his cook book, Shaya, and discovered this processing trick. Later, after doing some research, I have found other pro chefs such as Ottolenghi also agree with the long processing time.
How to Revive Hummus After RefrigeratingPersonally, I think hummus is best eaten fresh soon after it is made. I like my hummus best when it is fresh out of the food processor. This is not always possible for practical reasons, and you may need to store it in the fridge before you eat it. Cold hummus thickens up in the fridge and looses some of its silkiness compared to fresh made hummus. Still, any hummus is better than no hummus and you certainly don't want to waste any leftovers. To freshen up leftover hummus that has been refrigerated either put it back in a food processor with a little water or whisk in a little water to thin it out with a wire whisk.
Differences between Canned Chick Pea BrandsAll chickpea brands are not the same. I have tested out several and like Bush's Organics as well as Trader Joe's Organics. Both of these brands have salt in their ingredients, which as we know, salt brings out flavor. Epicurious did an extensive chickpea taste testing. Click here to see their recommendations.
Toppings & Flavored HummusHummus toppings and flavorings are what turns a simple and good appetizer into something amazing. A well-topped hummus becomes almost a meal in itself, particularly if you add some pita, crudités, a handful of olives and a crisp glass of Sauvignon Blanc. At the very least drizzle a generous amount of very good quality EVO over the top of your hummus and then choose from a variety of herbs, vegetables, olives, spices, nuts, whole roasted chickpeas, pomegranate molasses or pomegranate seeds to garnish your hummus. Good hummus spices include: za'atar, sumac, dukkah, smoked Spanish smoked paprika and crushed red pepper flakes. Fresh herbs that work well with hummus include parsley, dill, oregano, thyme and mint. For nuts, pine nuts, Marcona almonds and pistachios go particularly well on hummus. Always drizzle some good olive oil on your bowl of hummus before you begin adding toppings.
My Favorite Hummus Combinations
Mushroom Topped Hummus
- Sauté sliced mushrooms with a little olive oil or butter and pile in the middle of your hummus bowl. Garnish with chopped parsley and OMG!
Eggplant and Onion Hummus
- Use a fork to pierce an eggplant in several places. Blister it over an open flame such as a gas stove top or a grill until the skin is black and cracking. Place it in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes until the insides are soft and creamy. Remove the skin and add the eggplant to the food processor along with all the other hummus ingredients. Meanwhile, peel and slice two onions. Slowly cook on the stove in a little olive oil until they are soft and caramelized. Note: I am not kidding about piercing the eggplant before you blister it. My husband recently offered to blister two eggplants for me on the grill. I gave him the eggplants and forgot that I had not pierced them before hand. A few minutes into the process there was a loud bang, kind of like an M80 going off. One of the eggplants had exploded. I won't describe the mess it made in the grill, not to mention I was now down to a single eggplant.
Greek-Style Topped Humus
- Top your hummus with chopped cucumber, tomatoes, chopped olives and a sprinkling of crumbled feta cheese.
Pomegranate Topped Hummus
- After you drizzle some good olive oil over your humus bowl, add a generous drizzle of pomegranate molasses, some pomegranate seeds and finish with fresh mint.
Lemon Zest, Thyme and Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
- Use a fine microplane grater to zest a lemon and sprinkle over your hummus bowl along with olive oil, some fresh thyme leaves and crushed red pepper flakes.
Try Almond HummusTry this almond hummus and let me know what you think. There is a good chance you will stop putting store bought tubs of hummus in your grocery cart and substitute cans of chickpeas and a container of almond butter instead!
Incredibly Smooth Almond Hummus
Yield 3 cups
This hummus recipe is made with almond butter instead of tahini. It is ultra smooth and delicious. The almond butter version is delicious and a good substitute for anyone who has allergies or sensitivities to sesame.
- 2 15- ounce cans chickpeas
- 1 t baking soda
- 2 T lemon juice
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/2 cup good quality olive oil plus more for garnish
- 2 T almond butter
- 1 t kosher salt
- 1/4 t ground cumin
- Garnishes -- See head notes for ideas for garnishing
- Drain the chickpeas into a large strainer and rinse well. Put chickpeas in a pot, cover with a couple inches of water and add baking soda. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes. The chickpeas will be very soft and the skins will have dissolved. Some of the dissolved skins may be in clumps.
- Drain the chickpeas in a strainer, rinse, remove and discard any clumped skins.
- Put the skinned chickpeas, lemon, garlic, olive oil, almond butter, salt and cumin in a food processor and process on high for about 1 minute. Slowly add 4 T of water and continue processing for another 4 minutes until hummus is smooth. Add additional water if needed to get your preferred consistency.
- Spoon hummus into a shallow bowl and smooth with the back of the spoon to form a big well. Drizzle with olive oil and garnish with spices, herbs, nuts and any other garnish you choose. Serve with crudités, pita bread or flatbread.
Cuisine Middle Eastern