Once upon a time, hummus was hummus to me. It didn't matter which brand I bought or what flavor it was ... It all seemed the same. And while I liked it, it was nothing to write home about.
And then, when my son was an infant, I had an epiphany. I was transitioning from news reporter to food writer and one of my first assignments was to write about homemade hummus. I researched it and learned all about the ingredients that comprised basic hummus. Then, I made my own and my opinion of hummus was forever changed.
While the hummus of my teens was a cookie-cutter spread that seemed to have little variation from one variety to the next, I quickly learned that it could be something entirely different. Good hummus is flavorful, creamy and distinctive. It's worthy of spreading on bread, smoothing on crackers or dipping veggies in.
You can find good hummus in stores. I still buy it sometimes, but I also make it myself. And you should know that homemade hummus is more economical, and it's super easy. Like ridiculously easy. Best of all? You can control the flavor.
So, how do you make it? Basically, you start with some garbanzo beans, add some lemon juice, olive oil, tahini or toasted sesame seeds and seasonings. Whirl it in a food processor and you're done. I'm not sure it gets any easier or faster than that.
My current favorite variety of homemade hummus is Caramelized Shallot Hummus, which has notes of sweetness from the caramelized shallots. I love eating it with multigrain crackers, but it's also fabulous spread in a pita that's stuffed with roasted veggies.
Not a fan of onions? Try Red Pepper Hummus, which is a classic flavor with a hint of sweet-tang from the red peppers. Whether you enjoy it with pita crisps, veggies or whatever, it's a good flavor that almost everyone enjoys.
If you've never even had hummus, you could also start with a good basic recipe like Betty Crocker's Hummus. It's a great dip-your-toe-in-the-water move. That recipe is also good, since you can add in other flavors to make it your own. How about a sundried tomato hummus? Or a parsley hummus with lemon zest added too? The possibilities are endless.
Do you love hummus? What's your favorite flavor?
Sarah W. Caron (aka scaron) is a food writer, editor and blogger who writes about family-friendly foods and raising a healthy family at Sarah's Cucina Bella.