Essential Homemade Hummus with Brain Healthy Tahini
Hummus has become ubiquitous nowadays as a grab-and-go snack in supermarkets. Last time I counted, my market had 8 brands of hummus in the cooler, in addition to what is made in-house. All this is very good news for brain foodies. Hummus is packed with brain healthy ingredients. There’s chickpeas, tahini, olive oil, garlic, lemon, and sometimes anti-inflammatory spices. (I like sprinkling mine with cumin, Aleppo pepper or sumac — a lemony paprika-like spice.)
Hummus is good, homemade hummus is better
With all this hummus convenience, it’s easy to forget how amazingly delicious homemade hummus can be. That’s why I call it one of our Brain Works Kitchen Essential Recipes. It’s an easy, back-pocket recipe that can be whipped up from pantry ingredients. It’s satisfying, festive, and portable. Everyone in my family loves hummus, even my kids.
Tahini: the brain healthy superfood quietly sitting in the back of your pantry
We already know chickpeas and olive oil are super brain healthy foods. But could we get some enthusiasm for tahini? Tahini — toasted, ground, hulled sesame seed paste — is the superfood quietly waiting to be discovered in the back of your pantry. Adding a spoonful of tahini (or tehina) to recipes is like giving your food a shot of calcium, vitamin E, magnesium, potassium, iron, B complex vitamins and protein. And it’s packed with monounsaturated (brain healthy) fats. You’ll be seeing a lot more of tahini in the Brain Works Kitchen, and not just in hummus, so stay tuned. (Hint: soon we’ll be stirring it into the broth of our Chinese Chicken Zoodle Soup.)
Hummus as a snack, hummus as a meal
Sometimes I even make hummus into a meal. I place warm hummus in a large, shallow bowl, top with crumbles of spiced lean wild game meat, and let everyone dig in with veggies and pita bread triangles. I call it Loaded Hummus Nachos. No one misses the gooey cheese or the chips.
The secret to incredibly creamy hummus
For the creamiest hummus, there are a few tricks. First, add a pinch of baking soda to the cooking water to make the chickpeas soft and creamy. Although sometimes you’ll read that this causes important nutrients — like B vitamins — to leach out into the cooking water, a little pinch is ok. Besides, we are going to save that cooking water and put some of it back into our hummus (or use is in other recipes.)
Next, puree the chickpeas while still warm. If using canned chickpeas, warm them on the stove or in the microwave first. Try serving your Homemade Hummus warm, too. I’ll think you find it makes all the subtle flavors more apparent.
Finally: Toppings. You can eat your hummus plain, and that’s always good. Or, you can make it even more interesting (and amp up the brain healthy factor) by adding antioxidant rich toppings — pomegranate seeds, toasted sesame seeds, parsley or cilantro. I also like to sprinkle crispy spiced chickpeas on top or a few spoonfuls of warm cooked ones to add texture and contrast. To amp up the lemony flavor, puree a small slice of preserved lemon into your hummus. And I always, always, always give my Homemade Hummus a generous drizzly of extra virgin olive oil.
As for the tahini, I do have a favorite brand — Soom. It’s the creamiest tahini I’ve ever tasted. Find it online at Amazon.(While you’re there, try the chocolate tahini too. Chocolate tahini? Yes!)