There are at least nine spellings for hummus, hamos, hommos, hommus, homos, houmous, hummos, hummous, and humus. The earliest known recipe hails from 13th century Egypt: chickpeas, vinegar, pickled lemons, herbs, spices and oil. Not much has changed since then. An at-hand ingredient may be thrown in here and there, variations influenced by one’s country or even village. But, and with good reason, the basic recipe has barely changed. Why? Because hummus is damn near close to perfect, at least in my book. Granted there are a few recipes that leave me wanting, but it is usually more of a mood thing rather than bad or good. Some days I’d like my hummus to be thick like paste and garlicky, other days, creamy and smooth like yogurt.
I’m not sure if you can even consider the following recipe hummus. I put it together based on what I had in my pantry: red lentils, garlic, pine nuts, paprika and tarragon. Call it a dip if you like, I’ll just say it’s a nod to a classic dish that, in my world, will never go out of style.
Red Lentil Hummus
I know the tarragon seems like an odd choice, but it imparted an herby and lemony flavor that really brightened the dish.
3 cups water
1 cup dried red lentils
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2-cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
5 or so tablespoons olive oil
Juice from one lemon
1-teaspoon coarse sea salt
1/4-cup chickpea, or other miso
1 teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika, plus more for garnish
1-teaspoon French tarragon, plus more for garnish
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Bring water to boil in a small saucepan. Add lentils and reduce to simmer. Cook until soft, about 15-20 minutes. Drain and let cool to room temperature.
In the meantime, lightly toast your pine nuts in a dry pan, let cool, then place in food processor and pulse until pine nuts become a paste.
Place chopped garlic, sea salt and a tablespoon of olive oil in a mortar and pestle and smoosh until well blended.
Place lentils and garlic paste in food processor and pulse until blended. As food processor is running, add the rest of the ingredients until hummus is smooth.
Serve with bird crackers or pita bread.
Kim Boyce’s Bird Crackers, with variations
Adapted from Good to the Grain
These crackers require either a good, heavy rolling-pin or some upper body strength. I have neither, and despite spending much time rolling, my crackers turned out puffy like little crostinis. Not exactly what I was looking for, but delicious, nonetheless.
2-3 eggs, depending on the size of your eggs
3/4-cup buckwheat flour
3/4 cups spelt flour
1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
1-tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
2 tablespoons poppy seeds
1 stick butter, room temperature
3/4 to 1 cup almond milk or whole milk
1 egg, for egg wash
Coarse sea salt
Fill a small saucepan with cold water and gently place eggs in saucepan. Bring water to a boil; turn off heat and let eggs sit, uncovered, for 18 minutes.
Drain water, fill saucepan, with eggs still in it, with an ice water bath.
While eggs are cooling, whisk flours, sugar, baking powder, salt and seeds in a large bowl.
Using your fingers, break apart butter and rub into the flour mix until the butter is the size of bits of grain. Coarse and crumbly.
Peel the eggs and discard the whites. Using your microplane, grate egg yolks into flour.
Stir in milk.
Turn dough out onto a well-floured surface.
Fold it into itself but be careful not to over knead, unless you want your crackers fluffy like mine.
Preheat oven to 450 and line, or butter, your baking pans with parchment paper.
Roll the dough out as thin as you can possibly get it and use a cookie cutter or a knife to cut out squares.
Place dough on cookie sheet.
Whisk your egg in to an egg wash and brush wash onto cracker dough. Sprinkle with seeds and/or coarse sea salt and bake for 10 minutes, rotating tray halfway through.
Crackers should be golden and (mostly) crisp.