Photo By: Photos courtesy of Blanche Shaheen
You can watch a video guide on making this recipe, hosted by Blanche in her Los Altos kitchen.
When I was a child, I remember getting strange looks from my classmates when I brought my hummus sandwiches to school.
“What is that weird beige stuff in your sandwich?” wide-eyed children would ask time and again.
I was embarrassed, because I wanted to fit in with my classmates, so I begged my parents repeatedly for peanut butter and jelly.
I’m glad they didn’t cave in to my requests. The tahini alone is loaded with omega-3s; manganese; copper; calcium; iron; magnesium; zinc; vitamins C, B6, E and K; folate; thiamin; and 20 essential amino acids. Oh, and did I mention that tahini also contains tryptophan, phenylalanine and tyrosine – all used to treat depression? Try to beat that, PB&J!
New popularity for an old favorite
Fast-forward a couple of decades. I had no idea that hummus would become so popular, morphing into various gourmet flavors from pesto to sundried tomato and even into hummus chips as a snack. The word “hummus” in Arabic means “garbanzo bean.” These particular beans are economical, full of protein and fiber, and eaten any time of day in the Middle East.
I serve hummus alongside fresh cheese, pita bread, tomatoes and pickles for breakfast; topped with braised lamb and pine nuts for a hearty brunch; or draped over falafel or tabbouleh in pita bread for a tasty veggie sandwich at lunch.
Hummus is not just a condiment – it can also be a filling entrée with the right accompaniments. As my family observed Lent by eating vegetarian for 40 days before Easter, I start getting really creative with hummus. One of my favorite preparations is hummus with sautéed mushrooms.
As a vegetable, mushrooms also have protein and are quite like meat in flavor. Topped with some toasted pine nuts, this dish is a vegan winner. Combine different kinds of mushrooms for a more elegant presentation. Serve it to your guests with vegetables and pita bread for dipping to round out a complete meal.
Making hummus from scratch may intimidate some, which is puzzling because there is no recipe simpler when in a time crunch.
My father, Admon, makes the ultimate hummus. When I’d hear the whirl of the food processor on Sunday mornings, accompanied by his whistling, I knew he was making a fantastically fresh batch of hummus for us to enjoy on a lazy day.
Now, you can re-create his hummus in your own home with his recipe.
For a video tutorial to help, visit this article at losaltosonline.com.
Blanche Shaheen is a food blogger and journalist who lives in Los Altos. She is writing a Middle Eastern cookbook that shares heirloom recipes, cooking tips and family stories. For more recipes, visit feastinthemiddleeast.com.
Hummus with Mushroom Topping
• 1 15-ounce can chickpeas
• 1/3 cup tahini (see note following recipe)
• 1/3 cup lemon juice, or to taste
• 1 clove garlic, or to taste
• 1/8 teaspoon cumin
• 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
• 4 ounces crimini mushrooms
• 4 ounces shitake mushrooms
• 2 shallots, finely minced
• 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
• 1 tablespoon butter
• 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
• 1 teaspoon allspice
• 1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper
• Salt to taste
• 1/3 cup pine nuts
• 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
• Paprika or parsley
Drain chickpeas, reserving approximately 1/4-cup liquid. Place chickpeas with tahini, lemon juice, garlic, cumin and salt in food processor and blend until smooth. If hummus is too thick, add some liquid, 1 tablespoon at a time until it reaches desired consistency.
Melt butter and olive oil in skillet, add shallots and sauté for approximately 3 minutes. Add garlic and sauté 1 minute. Add mushrooms and continue sautéing until browned.
In another smaller skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil, then add pine nuts, stirring constantly for approximately 1 minute until browned. Remove from skillet and set aside immediately to avoid burning pine nuts.
To assemble, place hummus in center of large, flat plate and spread it toward edges with a spoon so that it looks like a pizza crust on the outer edges. Spoon mushroom mixture in the middle, then sprinkle with pine nuts. If desired, garnish edges with dashes of paprika, chopped parsley and more drizzled olive oil.
Note: Tahini is a paste made from ground sesame seeds. It is available in some of the larger supermarkets and natural-foods stores, but I prefer to buy the brands from Jordan and Lebanon sold in small Middle Eastern markets, as they have a more authentic flavor.