This is my third food-related post in a row. This isn’t exclusively a food blog by the way. But I can’t help it. Lately, I’ve been reminiscing–thinking about old places we used to go. One of them was this little artisenal pasta place called, Stellina’s. It was weird because I wasn’t a huge fan of their pasta–they over cooked it a lot. Mushy. But I loved their hummus! Every time we went, we started our meal off with the hummus appetizer.
What set this hummus apart? It was simple, light, fresh, and just full of flavour. It wasn’t bogged down with heaps of cumin and spices–something I’ve noticed most places use. After our many visits, we finally asked Stellina’s what they put in their hummus. They kind of looked at us a bit boggled, like, “We just use regular stuff. Chickpeas, tahini….” and then it trailed off. Looking back, I don’t think they understood why we were obsessed with it.
Stellina’s closed a few years ago. I wasn’t going to miss their pasta, but I was sad the hummus was gone. I didn’t even get to say good-bye! How and where were we going to get our hummus? I realized I was going to have to learn how to make it. I had to count on my memory on how it tasted and had to try to “recreate” it somehow.
I went on to do a web search and finally found Giada De Laurentiis’ and Ina Garten’s recipes came the closest. I made it a few times and tweaked it. In the end, instead of plopping raw garlic into the food processor, I added olive oil (with the garlic) to a small pan and let it sizzle a bit on low heat–until the oil became really fragrant. And I added lots of lemon juice to brighten it up.
The final recipe is far from perfect, but it’s close. Here it is (adapted from Giada De Laurentiis and Ina Garten):
1 tablespoon Tahini (sesame paste)
2-3 large cloves of garlic, smashed and peeled
2 tablespoons olive oil
8 dashes (or more) of hot sauce
1 – 15.25oz can (432g) of garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained, save the liquid from the can and set aside
Salt to taste
On low-medium heat, add the olive oil to a small pan. When the oil is warm-hot, add the garlic. Cook for about 1-1.5 minutes until it gently sizzles and the oil is fragrant. Watch closely and stir frequently so the garlic doesn’t burn. Turn heat off and set aside.
In a small food processor, add garbanzo beans, tahini, hot sauce, a pinch of salt, about 1 tablespoon of the reserved garbanzo bean liquid, and the juice of half of a lemon. If you’re living on the edge, add the juice of the entire lemon! Pulse the processor to blend the ingredients. If the mixture looks too dry, add a little more of the reserved liquid. Next, slowly add half of the smashed garlic cloves and half of the olive oil. Blend ingredients again. Add more reserved liquid until you reach your desired consistency. Add more lemon juice and/or salt to suit or your taste.
Place finished hummus into a storage container. Let it sit for a few minutes or up to an hour so the flavours can play and marry. Use the remaining garlic and oil as a garnish when serving.
I enjoy eating this with olives, peppers, and naan. Yum!