Makes 1½ cups
Vegan; no gluten, dairy or nightshades
Express yourself. Make this once, and thereafter you can concoct variations at speed by rough visual measure. This has wonderful contrasting textures, freshness and flavours that make commercial versions seem pallid. Just put everything into the processor; whiz until well mixed but chunky; serve or chill.
Traditionally hummus is made with chickpeas. These can be used here, but cannellini beans give a softer result. Find these at the supermarket cooked and in tins such as the Ceres organic range. Any cooked bean or lentil could be used. Usually lemon juice is employed as the culinary acid (helping with piquancy and blood sugar regulation), but white wine vinegar provides a sharper tang.
Legumes* are high in protein, soluble and insoluble fibre. The fresh herbs included are one of the top sources of many minerals and antioxidants. Hummus is a popular way to surreptitiously increase the household intake of all these high achievers. Have on hand for lunches with salad, soup or sandwich. Serve as a first course with rice crackers, sliced cucumber and carrot. Or turn it into a popular, easy make-your-own dinner with pita bread, wraps or taco shells; accompanied by bowls of lettuce, grated carrot, avocado or guacamole, chilli sauce or my Mexican Queso Sauce. For heartier appetites include tinned fish or boiled eggs.
400 g tin cannellini beans (14 oz or 1¼ cups cooked)
¼ cup fresh herbs (dill, fennel, parsley, coriander, mint or basil)
1 chopped spring onion, or 3 Tbsp chopped red onion
2 cloves garlic
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil*
¼ cup white wine vinegar
¼ cup hulled tahini*
1½ tsp sea salt with kelp*
Optional extras: olives, capers, diced gherkin, anchovies, sun-dried tomato, chilli, toasted nuts or seeds
Put all ingredients into the food processor and whiz. This is more interesting with some contrasting textures so do not process too long. If not using immediately, cover and chill. Keeps well refrigerated.
Shopping and Preparation Tips*
• Legumes: pod-bearing plants such as peas, beans, soy and lentils. Soak overnight and discard water to help eliminate an enzyme that can lead to poor digestion and gas. Add ample fresh water. Bring to a boil uncovered (watch for foaming; do not add salt as this slows cooking) until soft enough to squeeze between your fingers. They will almost triple in volume. See The Shape Diet for individual cooking times. Or buy cooked and tinned (Ceres and Delmaine brands in supermarkets have only salt, water). Cook extra and freeze, or chill and use within a week in fritters, casseroles, salads, soups, stews.
• Olive Oil: extra virgin olive oil is achieved by using cold mechanical pressure rather than the high heat and chemical solvents typical to most supermarket oils. These practices damage oils and the people who eat them. For information on which fats to choose for which purpose and why, see my article on the TIPS page: The Fats of Life.
• Sea salt: is sea water dehydrated by sun. When mixed with seaweed or kelp (containing iodine and other minerals low in our soil) it is ideal in terms of flavour (interesting but not too strong) and mineral balance. Try Pacific Harvest or Malcolm Harker brands; both in health and gourmet stores. NOTE these are less salty in taste than other brands. Ordinary salt is taken from mines or sea and so highly refined over extreme heat that it contains nothing but sodium chloride. All other minerals are stripped away, such as potassium and magnesium which help regulate fluid balance and blood pressure. Bleach as a whitener and chemicals to prevent clumping may be added to table salt.
• Tahini: is a paste – like runny peanut butter – made from ground sesame seeds and possibly added oil. It is available in jars in supermarkets. Referring to the processing of the seeds, it may be labelled ‘unhulled’ which has a bitter taste (traditionally for East Asian cooking), or ‘hulled’ which has slightly lower nutrient levels but a milder flavour (this is a Middle Eastern staple such as used in hummus). Try on crackers, toast and baked vegetables. As with nut butters, store in the refrigerator.