YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Creamy Dreamy Hummus

Did you know that chickpeas are a bean? And that edamame, lentils and peanuts are also members of the legume family? It’s not just kidney beans and black beans you’re after, it’s all of them! Remember that variety is an independent value when it comes to nourishing yourself. What’s the best bean? One you haven’t eaten for a while.

Now, if you’ve ever wondered how they make that unbelievably smooth hummus, here’s your chance. Finally. Year-round, this stuff is addictive. Many thanks to Zahav and Chef Michael Solomonov for making this recipe available to us mere mortals.

1 cup dry chickpeas
2 tsp. baking soda, divided in 2
4 garlic cloves, unpeeled
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. Kosher salt
1/4 cup ice water
2/3 cup best-quality tahini*
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
best-quality olive oil and paprika (sweet or smoked) to garnish

1. Place the chickpeas into a large bowl with 1 teaspoon of baking soda and plenty of water. The chickpeas will double in volume, so use a LARGE bowl, and more water than you think will be necessary.

2. Soak the chickpeas overnight at room temperature. In the morning, drain the chickpeas, rinse under cold water, and place in a large pot with the remaining teaspoon of baking soda. Add enough cold water to cover the chickpeas by at least 4 inches.

3. Bring the chickpeas to a boil over high heat, skimming off any clouds of scum that rise to the surface. Lower the heat to medium, cover the pot, and continue to simmer for about 1 hour until the chickpeas are completely tender. Then simmer them a little longer, because the secret to creamy hummus is overcooked chickpeas. Yes, you want them to be mushy and falling apart. Drain.

4. Meanwhile, process garlic, lemon juice, and salt in a food processor until coarsely puréed, and allow to rest 10 minutes to let the garlic’s sharpness mellow somewhat.

5. Strain the garlic mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a small bowl, pressing solids with the back of a spoon to release as much liquid as possible. Return the liquid to the food processor, and discard the solids.

6. Add tahini to the food processor, and pulse to combine. With motor running, add 1/4 cup ice water, one tablespoonful at a time, and process until mixture is very smooth, pale, and thick. Don’t be surprised if the mixture seizes up at first. Just keep going.

7. Add chickpeas and cumin and puree for several minutes, until the hummus is smooth and extremely creamy. Then purée it more! Taste and adjust the seasoning with more salt, lemon juice, and/or cumin, as you like.

8. To serve, spoon approximately 1 1/2-2 cups of hummus onto a small-medium sized plate, and spread almost to the edge with the back of your spoon. Then dust with paprika, and drizzle generously with olive oil. Perfection on your plate. Should be enough to serve 2-3, more if the table is covered with a large variety of colorful salads.

*FYI, Chef Solomonov loves Soom Foods Pure Ground Sesame Tahini, which you can get on line.

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