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Practical and healthful, hummus makes a perfect snack, appetizer or sandwich filling. There is certainly plenty of good quality commercial hummus available now, but it is easy to make it from scratch and definitely worthwhile. Cooking the garlic cloves with the chick peas allows you to add a rich, mellow taste of garlic and avoid the harshness that raw garlic can impart. In addition, the chick pea cooking water makes a flavorful broth that can be used to moisten the chick pea puree and adjust the consistency. (Save remaining chick pea cooking liquid for soups.) Chick peas are notoriously stubborn and take a long time to become tender, but in pressure cooker they take just 15 minutes! However, if you don’t have a pressure cooker, directions for cooking chick peas conventionally are provided in the Tip below.  
To Cook Chick Peas:
1 cup dried chick peas (garbanzos)
4 cups water
1 tablespoon olive oil or canola oil (see Tip)
6 cloves garlic, crushed and peeled
½ teaspoon dried thyme
1 bay leaf
To Make Hummus:
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
3 tablespoons tahini (sesame paste)
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/3-1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
¼ cup reserved chick pea cooking water
¾ teaspoon salt, or to taste
Pinch of ground red pepper (cayenne)
Paprika or smoked paprika for dusting

1. To cook chick peas: Place chick peas in a large bowl. Cover with water. Cover bowl with a plate and let soak overnight. 

2. Drain chick peas, discarding water. Place chick peas in 6-quart/6 liter pressure cooker. Add 4 cups water, oil, garlic, thyme and bay leaf. Lock pressure cooker lid in place and bring to a high pressure over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low or just enough to maintain high pressure. Cook 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let pressure release naturally. When pressure has released, open lid and check chick peas for tenderness. If necessary, lock lid in place and return to high pressure. Cook a few minutes more and let pressure release naturally.

3. Place a sieve over a bowl. Drain chick peas in sieve, reserving cooking liquid in bowl. Discard bay leaf.

4. To make hummus: Toast cumin seeds in small skillet over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Transfer to a small bowl. Let cool. Grind in a spice grinder (a clean coffee grinder).

5. Place cooked chick peas in a food processor. Process until coarsely pureed. Add ¼ cup reserved cooking liquid, tahini, 2 tablespoons oil, lemon juice, salt, ground red pepper and ground cumin; process until and smooth and velvety, stopping to scrape down sides of workbowl and redistribute ingredients once or twice. (Hummus will keep, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 6 months.)

6. To serve, spoon hummus into a serving bowl. Drizzle with remaining 1 teaspoon oil and sprinkle with paprika.

Yield: 11 (1/4-cup) servings.

Per serving: Calories: 120. Total fat: 6 grams. Saturated Fat: 1 gram. Cholesterol: 0 milligrams. Sodium: 170 milligrams. Carbohydrate: 13 grams: Dietary Fiber: 3 grams. Sugars: 2 grams. Protein: 4 grams.

Tip: It is important to add the oil when cooking dried beans in a pressure cooker because the oil helps prevent foaming.

Tip: To cook chick peas conventionally, in Step 2 simmer the soaked and drained chick peas in a large pot of fresh water until tender, about 1 ½ hours. Drain, reserving cooking liquid. Discard bay leaf. 

Click here for tips on using a pressure cooker.