Monday, March 26, 2012

Cucumber Hummus

Paul and I, very stupidly, ran the numbers on how much money we spend on hummus a year. The total was shocking. SHOCKING. Premade hummuses (hummi?) from the deli aisle can be quite expensive in all of their delicious glory. Plus, in the quantities that we consume it, the packages are not large enough and the contents are not healthy enough for the money they want for it.

The biggest anti-health culprit in premade hummus is oil. So much freaking oil that it's quite often listed as the second ingredient on the package, right after chickpeas. Even without the oil, hummus can be a bit of a calorie and fat villain because of the tahini, which has lots of great stuff in it (EFAs, B vitamins, calcium) that come at a caloric price. I personally don't shy away from tahini but I do believe that it renders oil redundent when making hummus, adding fat and calories for no good reason at all. Sadly, those mass producing hummus for the deli aisles of supermarkets seem to disagree with me. There are probably some oil-free varieties out there, but I have yet to find them.

I'm sure there are vegans out there that are not hummus enthusiasts, but I think they are the minority. Most of us are militant hummusians. We approach the spread at cocktail parties with an eager trepidation, following our tahini senses to what is quite often the only vegan item on the menu: veggies and pretzels sprinkled around a bowl of hummus. When we finally spot it we know that we will not be starving to death that night. Nor will we be making asses of ourselves after too many empty-stomach glasses of wine. Hummus is our safety net. It's the sneaky little vegan amidst an army of none.

Of course hummus is not always vegan, but it's more likely to be than the spinach dip or the ranch dip or pretty much anything else at said cocktail party with the exception of salsa. It's our rock. Bless those strong and unwavering chickpeas, because hummus remains our support system in a frightening, non-vegan world. And we are eternally grateful.

After calculating how much we spent on hummus last year (I won't tell you how much but it is on the scary side of $500.00) we have abruptly put a stop to it. Well, put a "slow" to it is probably more accurate. Pre-made hummus once in awhile, homemade hummus in my BlendTec all the time. So don't be surprised if you see a lot of hummus/dips/spreads suddenly popping up on this blog. A girl's gotta snack, after all.

The problem is that I've made some truly disgusting bowls hummus in the past. I just can't get it to taste like the premade ones (again, probably because I don't dump a bottle of olive oil into every batch.) I have had a problem making hummus the right consistency (i.e. creamy) because in the past I've used a food processor. Now that I've got a BlendTec, texture is never an issue.

There are a ton of things you can add to hummus to jazz it up, and this is my first time adding cucumber. It gives it such a cool taste...literally. Light and refreshing, this will be a great hummus for the sun soaked summer months that are (hopefully) on the horizon. The recipe comes from one of my favourite blogs, Fat Free Vegan and you can find it here.


Sarina said...

This looks great, thanks Mary.
I'll tell you the secret to a really great hummus: substituting the tahini (which can sometimes taste bitter) with hemp hearts (shelled hemp seeds). YUM!

janet @ the taste space said...

I've put cucumber in guacamole but never into hummus. The bonus of making hummus at home is that you can add all sorts of variety. Although to be honest, I usually fall back to my favourite hummus time after time. I don't feel the need to try anything else for the traditional flavous. :)

Kim said...

Wow that sounds really good. Hummus is expensive! It's ridiculous. We don't buy it too often as I seem to have more of a nutbutter addiction, but I like to have it. Whenever I try making it, it just doesn't seem to turn out as the consistency is usually off. I need me a blendtec. I should tell Terry it will eventually save us money from having to buy pre-packaged things ;p

Bliss Doubt said...

A post I can't resist commenting on. I love hummus, even store bought, and I think they add the oil to keep it from drying out and caking. Even the one I like best, Sabra Supremely Spicy, has oil as the third ingredient, after tahini, and since the product isn't labeled organic, that oil is probably from GMO plants. And you're right, store bought hummus is ridiculously expensive for what you get.

Without having a blendtec or cuisinart, and preferring lately to get away from BPA lined cans of chickpeas, I've discovered the packaged hummus mix. Just add water and whatever else. Lots of crushed garlic is ingredient number one for me. You have to add enough water to the mix to make it really liquidy so you can easily mix in the tahini (if you don't have a food processor, like me). Then stir in the garlic, and whatever else, and let it sit and "bloom". It dries out in just a few minutes, and sometimes you even have to go back and add water again. I never use any oil other than what there is in the tahini.

One box makes a big bowl, maybe three times as much as that average store container size. It still isn't as cheap as boiling and grinding chickpeas, and of course you have to have tahini on hand, but for me it's one of the cheaper ways to have two meals, which is what I usually get from one package.

You can also buy hummus mix in bulk, but I like the packages because when I'm off the hummus kick, the sealed package keeps months on the shelf.

Sumac is the interesting looking ingredient in that recipe, something I see popping up a lot lately.

Sarah B @ Bake + Bike said...

Nice, that looks really good! Oh man I definitely spend too much on hummus as well (especially from Vincenzo's...gah their caramelized onion version is incredible) but my food processor creations are rarely successful.

Mary said...

Sarina - Never tried it with hemp hearts! Will have to do that next time!

Janet - I always default to roasted red pepper hummus in the spring/summer and pumpkin hummus in the fall/winter..until this cucumber hummus they were the only two that I could make that tasted alright. Trying to branch out a bit more!

Kim - The BlendTec is my saviour...we got it in July and I've already ran it 500 cycles. Which is mildly insane but I like to think it saves on prepackaged stuff!

Bliss - Oh, Sabra. You had to bring up the name ;) Sabra is our favourite brand too, and the one that was running up our grocery bill so much. It was alright when they only sold it at Costco and not at our regular supermarket, because that meant we only got it once in awhile. But now it's at the regular supermarket and we needed an intervention! Their jalapeno flavour is my favourite but I haven't been able to find it in months, so I'm thinking it's been discontinued.
I've never tried a prepackaged hummus mix, will have to look into it..I'm also wary of BPA but never have the foresight to boil beans, since they take so long. I've recently purchased a pressure cooker and dried chickpeas are done in 10 minutes in it so I'm starting to go that route. I'll keep an eye out for the premade mix too!

Sarah - Uh oh, I've never tried the Vincenzo's version but now that you've recommended it I just might have to make a trip.

Vegan Sweetie said...

Good call! I haven't been throwing my money away of store bought hummus for awhile either:) And fresh is best! I'm going to give this cucumber version a shot, looks great!

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