classic hummus

as early as i can remember, hummus, tabbouleh and grape leaves were a staple at stoltz family gatherings. my family has roots in syria and lebanon, along with germany and ireland, but we've always gravitated towards middle eastern cooking when we're all together. i think that makes sense since so much of middle eastern food is communal - warm pita bread you can rip apart and share with your loved ones as your plunge it into hummus. me, as a little girl, standing next to my aunt learning how to roll grape leaves fresh off the vine...these are some of my earliest cooking memories. 

fast-forward to today, and grocery stores are filled with every kind of hummus combination under the sun. just a few days ago, i caught this wonderful podcast by the food seen (a+ podcast by heritage radio!) on sabra hummus and the evolution of this ancient dish. here in washington, dc, we're home to little sesame, an entirely hummus-inspired eatery. hummus is everywhere...so here's how you can get *the best* homemade hummus in your fridge.

so, what makes this "ethereally smooth," you ask? peeling the skin off of all those lil chickpeas! i promise - this is worth it. my boyfriend and i have had races to see who can remove them the fastest, so we must be either very competitive or very easily amused. regardless, his method won out. so put on some good tunes or wage your own friendly kitchen competition to get all those skins off. your hummus will be all the better and smoother for it. 

classic hummus

makes about six servings
what you'll need:

1 (15 oz) can chickpeas, reserve the chickpea water!
1/2 cup tahini, more if you like it thicker and creamier
juice of one lemon, freshly squeezed
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
kosher salt, to taste
black pepper, to taste
sprinkle of sumac and sesame seeds (optional)

what you'll do:

1. drain chickpeas, separating chickpeas and the chickpea water into two separate small bowls. 

2. gather a small handful of chickpeas into one hand. using your other hand, press down gently and shimmy your hands back and forth so that you rub all of the chickpeas between them. this friction will cause the chickpea skins to come off. rinse off the skins, then dump skinless chickpeas into a blender (or food processor, if you are lucky enough to have one!). continue until all chickpeas are skinless. 

3. into the blender with your chickpeas already in it....dollop in tahini, add salt, pepper, lemon juice, garlic and olive oil. blend, blend until silky smooth. as you're blending, slowly pour in reserve chickpea water until you get to the consistency you want. i also play around with the proportion of tahini and olive oil, so adjust to your preference if necessary.

4. once you're at the consistency and smoothness you'd like, use a spatula to pour your hummus into a bowl for serving. i like to give a sprinkle of sumac and sesame seeds, a swirl of olive oil, and then serve with home-baked pita. but, if you don't have time to bake your own pita, in the words of ina garten, "store bought is fine."