Hail Hummus!

As we welcome summer into our lives with open arms, it's also a time to welcome wonderful, crisp and light foods into our bellies. Minnesota has so many delicious options to choose from. We are also a Minne-gold mine when it comes to hummus. Our farmer's markets, co-ops and gardens are full of tasty options for your own homemade hummus. I was shocked at how easy it is to make at home, and ever since that day, I have been hooked on the stuff. It was not time consuming or difficult and you can create enough variations to keep this go-to food fresh and fun for your palette.

Chickpeas share health benefits with their other relatives in the dried bean family. These little packages bring a big nutrient kick, such as high protein and low cost, which makes them an ideal staple for your kitchen. Dried beans are also high in fiber, iron and B vitamins. You can up your nutrient-ante by adding other health powerhouse ingredients like sweet potato, avocado, red pepper, artichoke and garlic, just to name a few.

Hummus, Straight Up:

- 2 cups cooked chickpeas
- 2 garlic cloves
- 4 T extra virgin olive oil, I prefer organic inturrupcion fair trade or Lucini
- 3 1/2 T fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 1/2 t ground cumin
- 1/4 t coarse sea salt, preferably fleur de sel or maldon
- water, as needed for consistency
- 1/4 t fine Hawaiian sea salt (optional)
- 1/4 t paprika

Ideally, you will want to prepare your own chickpeas from the bulk section but a no-salt canned version (in a BPA-free can) is a good alternative, just be sure to rinse them before use.

Soak chickpeas in a stainless steel bowl or pot overnight with 3 inches of water to cover. Drain and rinse when ready to cook. Place 6 cups of water (or stock if you prefer) in a pot and bring to a boil. Add chickpeas and return to boil. Be sure that you skim off any foam that comes to the surface and discard. Reduce heat to simmer until chickpeas are tender. Remove from heat, drain and rinse until cool.

Drop garlic cloves into a food processor or good quality blender until minced. Turn off machine. Add chickpeas, olive oil, lemon juice, cumin, and sea salt. Restart machine and combine until smooth. Transfer to serving dish, sprinkle with Hawaiian sea salt and paprika (pictured).

If you are planning to refrigerate hummus or prefer a thinner consistency, water can be added while machine is running before transferring to a dish. The hummus will thicken and flavors will combine further as it sits at the cool temperature. Hummus can be refrigerated in an airtight glass container at least 1 week. Et voila, you have a lunch condiment or snack of choice for the week.

Hummus can be used as a dip for vegetable or pita chips as well as a spread for fresh wraps and toasted sandwiches. For a yummy gluten free non-veggie crunch, place a brown rice tortilla in your toaster oven for a few minutes until crispy and break into chips to dip. A sure crowd pleaser for all your summer gatherings, hummus is an easy, healthy snack for your busy schedule of work and play.

If you are looking for a flavorful boost, try these variations:

- roasted bell peppers or eggplant
- roasted garlic + artichoke
- sun dried tomatoes + chopped basil
- kalamata olives or your olive of choice, toss in or on the side
- smashed avocado (for guacamole style)
- fresh ground black or green peppercorn + additional lemon juice
- slightly melted raw sage bloom or any peppery honey + blueberries (fancy pants sweet tooth have to try it!)

Food is meant to be savored and made with love. Since we have limited time with our warmer seasons, be sure that you are spending your time not just making food but enjoying yourself. If that means you need a break from the kitchen or are running low on spare time, don't sweat it! We have a few fantastic options at our doorstep for store bought varieties. Head to East Lake street in Minneapolis to Bill's Imported Foods for Athens Cafe's hummus or visit the cafe itself in Robbinsdale. Another great option is Holy Land, a Northeast Mpls staple. If you can make the trip to their HQ on Central Avenue, it's worth it. Similar to Bill's, they have a whole grocery store of food finds. Holy Land also supplies our local co-ops with fresh batches of their hot selling items weekly.

There are simply so many ways to bring hummus into your kitchen, that there is no real reason not to. This nutrient packed little dish is one that, I hope, will find a way into your lunch bag if it hasn't already got you hooked. The bottom line - hummus is amazing. Enjoy!


Rachel Huntzicker is a writer, practitioner of yoga and clean foodie with an evolving desire to learn more about sustainable whole living and the food-to-mood connection. From her evolving and ever present desire to learn, she came to conclusion that growing her own quarter acre organic garden was a must, follow her journey on her blog, the Woodland Garden