I love hummus and bean dips, they’re almost a weekly staple in our house. I usually have some kind of bean soaking and simmering away to use for the week and inevitably by the very end, if any haven’t made their way into soup, bean burgers, or salad, they get pureed into some sort of spread or dip.
I’ve made many versions, but the reason I think I’ve never posted a recipe for hummus here, is because I already feel there are so many out there. This version however, has somthing a little special about it and maybe something you’ve never tried before. It’s served hot or warm, instead of chilled. Sometimes I’ll cook a batch of chickpeas and right away use half of them to make hummus, using a little of the warm cooking water to thin out the consistency. I never really thought this was a special technique I just always liked doing it. Then when I saw this weeks Food Matters recipe I thought to myself well, what do ya know, I’m not the only one serving hummus warm! I’ve never re-heated the hummus, as Bittman suggests, but I’m sure it has the same affect as when you make it right after cooking the chickpeas.
I decided I wanted this hummus to be smoky and slightly spicy, so I added in a chipotle chile and some smoked paprika, delish; especially when served with crunchy raw veggies to offset the slight heat. The level of spiciness is up to you however, I’d start with a small amount and taste as you go, it’s easier then going the other direction.
I’d like to start something new here. I want to cover some of the basics of cooking from scratch and what I keep in my pantry, and thought there’s no better place to start than with beans. More specifically dried beans and how to cook them. It’s easy I swear, but if this is a new thing for you I can see why you might be intimidated, there’s a lot of different ways and information out there, but this is the way I like to do it.
First things first try to find a reliable place to buy your dried beans. Many grocery stores these days have a bulk section where you can find beans for a little cheaper than pre-packaged ones, but if they look like they’ve been sitting there for awhile then you’re going to end up with less quality and taste once they’ve been cooked. There are also good sources online and sometimes even your local farmers market will carry them.
Step 1: Once you have your beans, to soak or not to soak would be the next question many people seem to always ask. I personally always soak mine, mainly to reduce cooking time and because it activates the germination process, which can better aid in digestion. Place the amount you want to cook in a large glass bowl (I usually do about 2-3 cups dried), cover the beans with about 2-3 inches cool water, and let it sit overnight. You can do this step in the morning before you leave for work too. The next day they will have soaked up a lot of the water and probably be sitting right at the water level.
Step 2: Drain and place in a large heavy bottomed pot and cover again with about 2-3 inched of water.
Step 3: Bring to a boil, skimming off any foam that builds up, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer until they’ve cooked to your liking. Each bean variety has its own cooking time and even each batch of beans you may bring home will vary slightly depending on how old they are. The fresher and smaller the bean the less time it will take to cook. For this batch of chickpeas it took probably about 45 minutes total before they were cooked for me, but don’t get too hung up on cooking times. I’d say most beans that have been soaked take anywhere from 45 minutes to 1 hour, the best thing to do is set a timer to say 35 minutes, check them, then check at 10-15 minute intervals thereafter.
Step 4: Drain the cooked beans, taking care not to burn yourself from the hot water or steam. Depending on what you’ll be making, like in the hummus recipe below, reserve some of the cooking water.
Look at that, only 4 steps to perfectly cooked beans and most of it is inactive time. You can do this and they really do taste so much better!
Smokin’ Hot Hummus / serves 6-8
Adapted from The Food Matters Cookbook
3 cups cooked chickpeas, drained, liquid reserved
1 garlic clove
2-4 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for serving
juice of half a small lemon
1/2 – 1 whole chipotle chile in adobe sauce
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika, plus a pinch more for serving
salt to taste (start out with about 1/4 teaspoon and add pinches as you go)
Place all ingredients into the bowl of a food processor and puree until smooth. Add more cooking water or olive oil if needed to reach desired consistency and salt to taste. Spoon into a bowl, drizzle with a little olive oil and a pinch of smoked papkrika and serve warm.
To store, cover tightly and keep in the refrigerator for several days.