Monday, August 30, 2010

How to Cook Chickpeas and Bittman's Hummus Recipe

Hummus 1, edited

Now I'm the first one to admit that I always have a can or two of chickpeas on my pantry shelves in the event of a culinary emergency, so to speak.  (With a tin of chickpeas in the house, you can always come up with a meal.)  In fact, it wasn't all that long ago that I only ever used tinned chickpeas.  Cooking my own just seemed like such a hassle - I would forget to soak them, or sometimes I would literally boil the bejeezus out of them and still they wouldn't soften (I've since discovered that this can have something to do with them having been heat treated), or they would cook inconsistently - some would be almost mushy and others would still be hard as all get out.  So I just stuck to the convenience of cans.

That was until I stumbled upon 100 Ways to Use Slow Cookers and Crockpots by Alison and Simon Holst, wherein I discovered Alison's method for cooking chickpeas in, of course, the crockpot.  (In case you were wondering, Alison Holst is the Delia Smith of New Zealand cookery.)  There is no pre-soaking required.  Simply put two cups of uncooked chickpeas into the slow cooker, along with six cups of hot water.  I like to add a couple of cloves of garlic (just peeled and left whole), a couple of bay leaves, a few black peppercorns, one carrot (just cut into about four large chunks), a celery stick (cut in two), and some fennel tops (I never throw away fennel tops - I keep them in the freezer to use for soups, stocks, and occasions such as this).  Then cook on high for 4-5 hours, adding 1 teaspoon of salt and 2 teaspoons of sugar after about 2 hours.  This will yield about 5 cups of chickpeas, which I then bag up by the cupful with some of the cooking liquid.

Like many things, although there is nothing wrong with the canned product, I do believe the taste and texture is superior if you can find the time and effort to cook your own, and once cooked, despite a minimal amount of defrosting a bag of frozen chickpeas is as convenient as opening a tin.

I use these a lot in all sorts of dishes and salads, but my most frequent use is an almost weekly batch of hummus.  As I've mentioned here before, hummus with pumpkin seed crackers is a frequent lunch for me, and as I don't eat a lot of meat is a good way of ensuring I get a serving of protein for the day (pulse + grain = complete protein).  Now I have my usual "go-to" hummus recipe that I always use - I can pretty much make it with my eyes closed, and I never measure anything, but since our theme this week at I Heart Cooking Clubs is "lunch box" I thought I would have a go at making Mark Bittman's hummus for my lunch yesterday, the recipe for which I found in my trusty How to Cook Everything iPhone application.  Now yesterday in Christchurch was definitely not a day for packing up a lunch box and heading out somewhere to enjoy this outside - more snuggle up on the sofa under a rug and watch a movie kind of day - but it nevertheless made a good lunch and easily lends itself to lunch box fare - great with any kind of crackers, pita bread or crisps, or even to dunk vegetables into.  I made this according to Bittman's recipe, except that I left out the garlic - since I usually have this for lunch and then shortly after have to get "up close and personal" with my yoga students, I prefer not to eat garlic during the day.  I have to say that my first taste of this (you know the one, when you dig your finger in - allegedly to test for seasoning - and then lick off a big blob of that velvety puree) was a little disappointing.  I thought there was too much tahini, but much to my surprise the minute this stuff hit a sesameal cracker it was sensational!!  I jazzed this up a bit by serving in a bowl, drizzled with some extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkling of sumac on top, instead of the cumin or paprika suggested in the recipe.  I also roasted a few extra chickpeas in a shallow pan and sprinkled those on top as well.  End result - despite my initial reservations about the tahini - I think this has just become my new "go-to" hummus, especially with the sumac and extra roasted chickpeas.

Hummus Recipe
Adapted from Mark Bittman's
Click here for a printable copy of this recipe

2 cups cooked chickpeas
(reserve cooking liquid if possible)
1/2 cup tahini
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic (optional)
juice of 1 lemon
flaky sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

1 cup cooked chickpeas
extra virgin olive oil

Begin with the garnish - heat just enough olive oil in a pan so that the pan is not completely dry - sort of just greasing the pan.  Add chickpeas to the pan, tossing around from time to time, and cook until they are browned and toasty.  Remove pan from heat and set aside.

Hummus 4, edited

Now to the hummus - put chickpeas, olive oil, tahini, garlic (if you're using it), lemon juice, salt and pepper into the food processor, and blitz until a paste forms.  With the motor still running add a little of the reserved cooking liquid or barely warm water, until you achieve the consistency you desire.  Taste for seasoning, adding more lemon juice, salt or pepper if necessary.

Hummus 3, edited

Serve in a shallow bowl.  Drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil over the top and sprinkle on some sumac.

Hummus 2, edited

Lastly add the roasted chickpeas.

This post is submitted to I Heart Cooking Clubs, where we continue to cook with Mark Bittman for another month - I wonder who we'll be cooking with next?!

How to Cook Everything, Completely Revised 10th Anniversary Edition: 2,000 Simple Recipes for Great Food


  1. It looks delicious! I love making mine own hummus--especially made from cooked dried chickpeas. I have never thought to cook them in the slow cooker--thanks for the tip. ;-)

  2. I love that you topped this with roasted chickpeas - you can never get too much of this good thing! Yum!

  3. Deb - I think cooking them in the slow cooker is a real winner - the taste and texture is brilliant.

    Christy - I loved the roasted chickpea garnish too - don't know why I never did it before.


  4. I love hummus and really enjoyed reading your post. I was excited to read about your method for cooking the beans in the slow cooker. I really want to try that. And, I couldn't agree more....hummus makes a wonderful lunch. Yours looks very pretty with the roasted chickpeas and sumac on top! (I've been unable to find sumac but would love to try it sometime).

  5. Thanks Kim, I think the "lemony" tang of the sumac really added another dimension to this.

  6. I am a big hummus fan - this looks fantastic and I may even be motivated to cook my own rather than use the canned chickpeas due to your simple instructions! Lovely photos too!


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