I used to think I made hummus from scratch. When I started thinking about it, though: I always bought jars of pre-made tahini from the store and used canned chickpeas, and I had never really questioned the impact that might have on the flavor of my homemade hummus.

So last month I decided to try my hand at tanini, and while I was at it, start with dry chickpeas as well.

First, the tahini. This was so easy, I don’t know why I’d never done it before. I roasted 5 C. sesame seeds (hulled) at 350F for about 10 minutes, until they had just started turning golden brown — no darker. After they had cooled, I poured them into the food processor and processed them while adding 1-1/2 C. oil — I used about 50/50 olive and sesame oils. That was it! The consistency was nice and smooth and the flavor was better than any jar of tahini I’ve tasted.

A sea of sesame...
...becomes a quart of creamy tahini

Next up, chickpeas. Maybe this is old hat for a lot of you, but I’d always seen the advice: don’t bother with cooking chickpeas, canned chickpeas are just as good. I stumbled across The Paupered Chef, where they have done a great job of testing various methods, and I decided to trust their conclusion: cooked chickpeas make a better hummus than canned if¬†you cook them with a little baking soda to help soften them up (for a smooth, not-gritty consistency).

Here are their instructions, in my own words:

Soak 1 lb. of chickpeas in water overnight (well over enough water to cover them — they will soak it up!)

Drain the chickpeas, place them in a large pot and add 2 cloves of garlic, a sprig of thyme, 1 tsp. baking soda, and some salt. Cover with water, and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and let simmer for 2-3 hours, until the chickpeas are tender. Then drain.

The hulls will start to come off the chickpeas. You can remove them all, and maybe you will have an even creamier hummus — I removed most of them, but it’s possible I didn’t need to. I kinda enjoyed popping them out of their little skins.

Unfortunately, I didn’t take any photos of this, but it wouldn’t really have mattered: the chickpeas didn’t look like much–but the smell as they cooked was unbelievably good. And the flavor! These were, without a doubt, the BEST chickpeas I have ever tasted. They were savory and tender and perfect. I probably ate twenty of them before I could even get them into the food processor.

So after making the most delicious chickpeas ever, I was really hoping to have the best hummus ever. I stuck with The Paupered Chef’s recipe:


1 lb. chickpeas, cooked (reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid, and drain)
1/2 cup lemon juice (from about 2 lemons)
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup tahini
olive oil

Process the chickpeas, lemon juice, garlic, salt and tahini in a food processor. Amazingly, this recipe gets super creamy without even adding any oil. When you’re ready to serve, drizzle a little olive oil and sprinkle some paprika on top.

It was definitely delicious hummus. Would I call it the most delicious hummus ever? I guess not. But it was super satisfying to make it from scratch. I don’t think I’ll go back to store-bought tahini — though I might be tempted to use a can of chickpeas when I’m in a rush.

We ate the majority of this hummus while relaxing on the Pacific coast a few weeks ago. We hiked from Lake Ozette, near Washington’s coast, through some beautiful temperate rainforest and set up camp on the beach. It was a beautiful day, and the hummus was a welcome treat after a nice hike. Here’s what that looked like:

This photo does not even begin to do our campfire justice.

We’re headed out to camp on the coast again soon, because, well–look at it. Right?

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September 18, 2012

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