Hummus may well be the most popular and widely-eaten food in all of Middle Eastern cooking. It’s an incredibly simple recipe typically made of just six ingredients: ground up garbanzo beans; tahini, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, and salt. Because humans like to screw up a great thing, a handful of recipes call for yogurt, but the overwhelming majority of hummus is vegan.

Despite its simplicity, there’s incredible variability in the way it’s prepared. So be sure to try as many brands, and sample it in as many restaurants as possible. Whatever you do don’t write hummus off if you don’t like it the first time you try it. You probably got some that was ineptly prepared. If you want to maximize your chances of getting outstanding hummus, go to a traditional Israeli, Lebanese, or Mediterranean restaurant.

Hummus is great in pitas or in traditional lavash flatbread wraps. And it’s terrific in sandwiches or on bagels, especially along with some tomato, sprouts, and pickle slices. Also try it on rice cakes—a great option for the gluten-free crowd.

Any mainstream supermarket will carry hummus, so it’s one thing you can reliably get even if you’re traveling through rural North Dakota. Natural food stores often carry local brands that are much tastier than the stuff the big guys make.

Note that hummus is one of the cheapest and easiest foods you could make. You can get all fancy and soak and cook your garbanzo beans, or you can save time and use canned garbanzos. Any blender or food processor will do the job of blending everything together, but a Blendtec or Vitamix will instantaneously create a remarkably creamy spread.


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