Meatless Monday – Hummus 101

By Meg Claire

Like any self-respecting Arab woman, I refuse to purchase mass-marketed hummus.  No brand could possibly compare to homemade, and the attempts are alternately sour or bland.  Not surprising when you realize it’s just a marketing job:  forcing “Mediterranean” flavor profiles on something so perfectly simple to start with.  My Syrian grandmother never fed me “Roasted Red Pepper” hummus for good reason.

If you’re in the tri-state area and you’re searching for great Middle Eastern food, look no further than Fattal’s Syrian Bakery in Paterson, NJ.  I’ve been going here for Syrian bread since I was a kid and the sights and smells bring me back every time.  For cheap and hard-to-find Middle Eastern ingredients (za’atar, anyone?), Fattal’s is worth the trip.  In fact, the jar of tahini pictured above will probably keep me in hummus for about 6 months and cost only $6.

My hummus recipe couldn’t be simpler—I keep it in my head.   Ideally, you’d start with dried chickpeas and slow cook them, but use canned if you want to whip this up fast.  Miso is obviously a non-traditional ingredient here.  It’s smooth, mellow flavor will keep guests guessing what that wonderful flavor is…


Serves 4 as an appetizer

1 15oz. can organic chickpeas, drained, liquid reserved

1 small clove garlic, smashed

1 TLB tahini

Half lemon, juiced

¼ TSP ground cumin

¼ TSP paprika

1 TSP white miso paste (optional, but if you exclude it, up the tahini by 1 additional TBL)

¼ TSP kosher or sea salt

Good olive oil

Toss the chickpeas and garlic into a food processor.  Process just until it forms a chunky paste.  Add the rest of the ingredients, through salt.  Process, and while the blade is going, drizzle in about a tablespoon of olive oil.  If it doesn’t seem creamy enough, add a tablespoon or two (or three) of the canned chickpea liquid and process until incorporated.  Spoon into a shallow serving bowl and smooth over the top with a spoon or spatula.  Draw the tines of a fork across the surface and then turn and do the same, creating a criss-cross pattern.  Drizzle a little of your best olive oil on top.  Serve with warm Middle Eastern bread—it’s even delicious on whole wheat toast!