By now, you’ve probably figured out I’m a bit obsessive about cooking from scratch. Michael used to tease me, and ask when I was going to start making my own water. There is a hazard to this, though, and in my case it started with a simple pot of beans. Most cooks will agree that there is no worse fate for a pot of beans than overcooking them. Beans should have a little bite to them; kind of like al dente pasta. You know their just right when you bite into them, and they give way ever so gently, but still require some chewing, and don’t just collapse in your mouth. They should hold their own, so to speak, when combined with other ingredients, as in the Chickpea, Parmesan and Fennel Salad in Homemade with Love.
Making hummus, though, requires a contradictory approach to cooking chickpeas. In this case, you want them to surrender their fight, which is the real secret to creamy homemade hummus. As the editors at Food 52 wrote recently, they should break up easily when mashed between two fingers, and be “almost, but not quite mushy”. The latter being a very fine line, in case you were wondering. What this means for me is that cooking chickpeas for hummus presents a problem. It means I actually need to make a separate batch of chickpeas—one for most other recipes, and another for when I’m craving hummus. Perhaps it’s the repetitive nature that bothers me most.
I’m an advocate of canned beans in a pinch, but one taste of hummus made with a batch of home-cooked chickpeas years ago, and I was ruined forever. So, for the last few months my compromise has been buying store-bought hummus. I can hear the collective gasps; I’ll give you a moment to pick yourselves up from the floor before I continue. (waiting…waiting…okay can we move on now?)
Yes, I buy already-made hummus on occasion. I know, I could use canned chickpeas, but I simply don’t like it made with the canned variety (and I’ve tried a few different brands). As I get older, I realize I’m not willing to compromise on flavor.
I’m not going to beat myself up for buying hummus because that would be pretty silly. I’m just going to try and plan better. I tend to wing most everything in the kitchen, even holidays and parties. Instead, I’m going to take my own advice, and shore up my freezer pantry with two kinds of cooked chickpeas. That sounds a bit over the top, even for me, but I never claimed to be sane.
Now onto more intriguing things, like trying my hand at homemade pita again. I made my first batch this weekend, and have some dough ready to rise while I walk the kids to school. Before you ask, yes puffing has been a bit hit or miss, but my thoughts on that are for another post coming soon. Happy Monday everyone!
This recipe is now part of my new site, Simmering. It can be found by searching the archives here.