Black Bean Hummus

A new twists on a Middle Eastern staple.

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hummus variations

While chickpeas–with their tiny stature and unassuming flavor–maintain a humble persona, their significance throughout history commands serious respect. One of the earliest plants to be domesticated for human use, chickpeas were first planted along with wheat, barley, lentils, and other ancient grains and legumes in the Fertile Crescent some 10-12,000 years ago. Fittingly, chickpeas have long been a staple of Middle Eastern cuisine, found in everything from stews and savory pies to fritters to spreads Hummus, which literally means “chickpeas” in Arabic, is arguably the most popular recipe in the chickpea canon. The exact origins of this spread of smashed chickpeas softened with tahini and olive oil are unknown, but likely stretch back for centuries. Hummus continues to be a favorite throughout the Middle East, including Israel where, as Janna Gur writes in The New Book of Israeli Food, “Israelis hold hummus in such high regard that it is rarely made at home.” Instead, she writes, residents flock like pilgrims to their favorite hummusia (hummus joint) for plates of warm hummus topped with fava beans or a hardboiled egg and accompanied by plates of pickles and fluffy stacks of pita.

Vegetarians and health food enthusiasts like Mollie Katzen first helped to introduce the protein-packed spread to the American palate in the 1960s and 1970s. Today it is nearly ubiquitous: Sabra is becoming a household-recognized brand, hummus and pita platters show up next to mozzarella sticks and nachos on diner menus, and the dip has become a familiar-enough cultural reference to carry scenes in major motion pictures (i.e. the infamous “hummus scene” in Don't Mess with the Zohan).

The New York Times published an article discussing hummus' growing popularity in the United States, especially flavored versions that add savory mix-ins like sun-dried tomatoes, roasted red peppers, and avocado. MyJewishLearning.com's blog Mixed Multitudes mentioned a New Hampshire-based company that launched a line of dessert hummus that includes flavors like caramel apple, chocolate mousse, and pumpkin pie. The three recipes below do not take hummus innovation to such extremes, but do offer some unexpected twists on the classic.

Of course, purists can make their own traditional hummus by following this recipe.

This black bean based-riff on traditional chickpea hummus is packed with serious flavor thanks to the fresh cilantro and ground spices.

You might also like these variations:
Roasted Garlic Hummus
Lima Bean Hummus with Toasted Peanuts

Ingredients

  1. 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  2. 1/4 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
  3. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  4. 2 cloves garlic
  5. 1 15-oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
  6. 1/4 cup olive oil
  7. 1-2 Tablespoons tahini
  8. 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne

Directions

Put all ingredients into a blender or food processor and blend/process until smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides as needed. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.

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Leah Koenig is a writer and cookbook author whose work has been published in The New York Times Magazine, Saveur, CHOW, Food Arts, Tablet, Gastronomica, and Every Day with Rachael Ray. Leah writes a monthly food column for The Forward and a bimonthly column for Saveur.com called “One Ingredient, Many Ways.” She is the former Editor-in-Chief of the award-winning blog, The Jew & The Carrot, and she is a frequent contributor to MyJewishLearning.com, where her recipes are very popular, and highly praised. Her first cookbook, The Hadassah Everyday Cookbook: Daily Meals for the Contemporary Jewish Kitchen, was published by Rizzoli in 2011. The book was named one of the “Best Books of 2011? by Library Journal and The Kitchn called it “a big, beautiful book that is also down-to-earth and completely accessible.”

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