Sunday, 5 July 2015

Hummus: it's not middle-class, it's chickpeas.

I get alternately baffled and a bit harrumphy when perfectly innocent food-stuffs get designated as being a particular class. Lentils as middle-class bewilders me especially - lentils? Seriously? The incredibly cheap, nutritious staple eaten by most of the subcontinent? Likewise hummus. It's not middle-class, it's chickpeas. With some other stuff. You could call it Greek fairly accurately, if you wanted, but not middle-class. And yet despite its now being very widespread and familiar, the 'orrible little label persists. So: sod that. It's not middle-class, it's chickpeas.

It's awesome as a last-minute I'm-going-somewhere-and-meant-to-take-a-dish option (like tapenade) - my record is 17 minutes to make both hummus and tapenade, which meant I had a whole 3 minutes left to get ready before dashing back out the house. Result! Mostly, though, tapenades and hummus and other such dips come out to play for collation-style summer lunches, where we root through the fridge for assorted tasties, and pull out whatever combo we can find of cheeses, dips, pickled onions, gherkins, tomatoes, celery, peppers, cold meat or salami (if our bounty extends so far), load everything up onto a board or a tray, and add a few packets of oatcakes. Or nice bread with olive oil and balsamic vinegar to dip it into. The best bit about a collation lunch (much like an anything-goes breakfast) is trying different things together, to see which flavours play well together. (On warm evenings, it also makes a very lovely supper.)

My usual method has been to follow the recipe in my book, remember it never works that well, then faff about trying to add different amounts of different things to find the sweet spot. This time, I got it right, and WROTE IT DOWN, in the book, for your delectation. SO! You will need...

For 800ml of hummus:
2 tins of chickpeas, the juice of 2 lemons, 3 Tablespoons of tahini, 250ml olive oil, 5 large cloves of garlic, 1 teaspoon of salt.

If you've never bought tahini before, don't panic. They sell it in shops, so buy a jar. (It's made from sesame seeds: it is to seasame seeds what peanut butter is to peanuts.) It keeps seemingly forever, so even if you only ever use it for hummus, that's fine.

Don't worry if you don't see those quantities on the board or in the photos below. This photoshoot was my finally-getting-it-right session, so just use those numbers (or halve them, if you prefer).
The rest is really just blending it all up, so you can throw everything in the blender now, or keep watching me do it.

Rinse all the froth and beany water AWAY.

Peel the five cloves of garlic, no need to chop. Remember the garlic trick!

Measure out your 250ml of olive oil...

Throw everything together into your jug-blender or into a jug / jar if you have a stick blender. With tapenade, I hold half the olives back at first, so I can get a chunkier texture; with hummus, you want it smooth anyway, so just throw in all the chickpeas.

Adding the tahini... You're the cook, so you get to lick the spoon. In fact, if you haven't used tahini before, it's important to lick the spoon so you get to know the flavour of your new ingredient.

Blend the whole lot up, with...

A teaspoon of salt. More or less.

Voila! 800ml of hummus. So some of that's for now and most of it is going into the freezer for future lunches and assorted collations.

Ramekins. WHERE DO THEY COME FROM? I think ours breed. We don't even buy that dessert that comes in ramekins (I don't eat dessert, generally) and yet... ramekins overflow the cupboards. But now I actively ask people for their excess ramekins, as it turns out that's the perfect size for freezing dips. Just right for one person as a centrepiece to a lunch (with some oatcakes, sticks of celery, maybe a gherkin or two) or for two people, with another dip or two, as part of a collation. And if there are more people, just defrost more.

Five ramekins of hummus - that's about 110ml each, plus a 250ml tupperware for when there are more people. Clingfilm, masking tape & sharpie to label, in the freezer. Now you can lick out the jug.

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