I’m very particular about the way I want my hummus to be. I’d even go as far as saying I’m demanding. An underwhelming hummus isn’t worth my time. On the flavour front, it needs to be absolutely unapologetic: big, bold waves of garlic, lemon, fruity olive oil and, of course, creamy toasted sesame. Its texture, too, must be uncompromisingly silky smooth, and there’s one surefire way to achieve this: the chickpeas, whether they’re cooked from dried beans or come from a can, need to be skinned.
Obviously, skinning a can of chickpeas is a repetitive task – but I cannot emphasise enough how totally worth the effort is for the difference it makes to your hummus. The skins themselves are flavourless and indigestible – fibre is a good thing, but there’s a limit – and leaving them on, even after they’ve been blended, creates nothing more than grittiness. It takes me less than 5 minutes to slip the skins off a whole can of chickpeas, so simple a task that I do it while I’m watching the news (that’s code for whatever I’m binge-watching). Time well spent.
As for the garlic, once roasted in its little foil package it will keep happily for a week, so there’s no need to fire up the oven especially for it – just pop it in any time you have the oven on for something else. I’ve suggested 45 minutes at 220°C (425°F) below, which is the same as an hour at 200°C (400°F); it’s close to impossible to overcook it, so you can do some loose mathematics for other temps.
Because roasted garlic has none of the burn of raw garlic, just great depth and, surprisingly, sweetness, I’m happy to use the whole head in my hummus. If this makes you nervous, you can start out with half the cloves and add more as you see fit. Any leftovers can be kept as a spontaneous and delicious addition stirred into soups, stews and pasta sauces throughout the week.
Makes about 2 cups.
1 whole head of garlic
400g (14 oz) can chickpeas
2 tablespoons tahini
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon salt
1 lemon, juiced
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
2 tablespoons water
To roast the garlic, separate the cloves from a whole head of garlic. Snip the top off each clove, just enough to expose the garlic within the skin. Wrap all the cloves together in a piece of foil and bake in a 220°C (425°F) oven for 45 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Rinse and drain the chickpeas. Slip the translucent skin off each bean and discard. Place the skinned chickpeas in a food processor or blender. Add the tahini, olive oil, salt, lemon juice and paprika. Blend to combine.
Add the garlic by squeezing the soft contents of each clove into the hummus. Add a couple at a time and taste until it becomes as garlicky as you want it to be. Blend until very smooth. Add water, a tablespoon a time, to create a perfectly dippable consistency.
You can eat it straight away, although making it a little in advance, just an hour or two, will give it a chance for all the flavours to mingle and develop. It will keep covered in the fridge for a week.