September 30, 2011

simple hummus for a simple sunday

If you're new to Zürich and you venture into a grocery store in search of mayonnaise, you will likely come out empty handed, convinced that the Swiss don't do mayo. You'll say you looked at the condiment shelves, saw the mustards, dressings and ketchups, but simply did not see a jar of mayo. That one little word, 'jar', is where you were mislead. Mayo comes in a tube, a tube that is almost identical in shape and functionality to a toothpaste tube. I kid you not (for those of us who fear mayo, placing it in a tube does not help, at all). A tube. Of mayo. Just squeeze, and out squirts a pretty little spiral of mayo onto your sandwich. Okay, enough of that. What I'm trying to say is that when you go into a grocery store in a foreign country it's not always guaranteed that they will have what you are looking for or that what you are looking for will look like it's supposed to. The mayo problem extends to yeast, baking soda and baking powder, which are all sold in individually wrapped packages. It is also true for milk, which comes in boxes, pouches or narrow plastic containers. It is not true, however, for hummus. Hummus is simply not a Swiss grocery staple and you are unlikely to find it in most of the markets no matter how many different shaped containers you look for. I'm not a hummus fanatic, but I do like it every once and awhile, and awhile happened to be this past weekend, so I set off to make some of my own.
I googled and search and did some more googling and eventually settled on an Alice Waters' recipe from The Art of Simple Food, a book that had been sitting on my shelf all along.

* cooks note: I doubled the recipe because we were sharing with friends. Doubling isn't actually such a bad idea if you aren't sharing but are still going through the hassle of soaking and then cooking the dried chickpeas - perhaps you can just give extra to a friend. Also, I added more olive oil than the recipe called for and made this adjustment in the recipe below. I just didn't find that there was quite enough for taste or consistency.

** for Zürich folks, you can get the tahini paste at Coop and I would guess at the Turkish market on Josefstrasse, behind HB. I found the chickpeas at Jemoli, but I bet you can find them at one of the larger markets

3/4 cup dried chickpeas (soaked for 8hrs or overnight - simply place in a bowl and cover with a fair amount of water)
1/4 cup tahini
1 cup fresh lemon juice
2 garlic cloves peeled and pressed through a garlic press
3 tablespoons olive oil
salt to taste
ground cumin if desired

drain the chickpeas that have been soaking. Place them in a pot and cover generously with water. Bring the water to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer. Let them cook until tender, about 1.5-2 hrs

drain the cooked chickpeas, reserving the cooking water. Puree the chickpeas in a food processor or with an immersion blender until smooth, adding some of the cooking liquid (no more than 1/4 cup) to achieve desired consistency.

blend/stir in remaining ingredients. taste as you go and adjust amounts accordingly.
I was about to sit down at our dining table to enjoy a nice hummus and veggie lunch, when it dawned on me that I hadn't been outside all day. Thankfully hummus is easily transportable and I brought my lunch and a magazine to the park, where I laid out a soft cotton blanket and stretched out.
I was appalled yesterday when I realized I hadn't been outside, and funny enough, the same thing has happened to me today. I've been checking things off my to-do list and so far all of those things have been inside tasks. When you don't have to hustle out the door in the morning I guess you have to put 'GO OUTSIDE" on your to-do list.

Off I go...


  1. Condensed milk is in the same tube. I feel so weird using it.

  2. Thanks, Tal. Perfect timing! I've been looking for a hummus recipe.
    Love the lapis refrigerator box from the Union Antiques Fair.

  3. Hi Talley,
    Thanks so much for stopping by my blog yesterday and for your kind comments. Funnily enough I found hummus in a tin can yesterday. Sad:( Next time, homemade.
    Love your blog, your photos, your words. Lovely! I'll be stopping by often:)