Ancient bean stays current and kid friendly in peanut butter hummus

A prehistoric legume entices young and old to eat their veggies in peanut butter hummus. Photo: Amelia Ames

UTAH, July 18, 2013 – Chickpeas or garbanzo beans have been known to humans since Neolithic times, being one of the first domesticated food crops. Despite the passage of a few millennia, chickpeas remain a staple ingredient in many cuisines.

They are an old world kind of legume differing significantly in appearance from their new world counterparts such as pinto beans and green beans. Scientists place their point of origin somewhere in Mesopotamia.


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The excellent portability of chickpeas lead to their distribution to Europe and beyond, prior to the Bronze Age.

A quick glance at a package of chickpeas will show that they contain substantial protein and fiber, and are low in fat. After doing the math on chickpeas, you might begin to get an inkling that they are a very healthy food. Perhaps even a superfood?

Before you run away screaming, because you’ve already had all the health food propaganda that you can stomach, take a moment to consider this: healthy food can actually taste good. Hummus has been elevated from that strange dip, eaten only by crunchy mamas and yogis, to a school lunch item that even the pickiest of kids will eat.

These days, if you leave hummus in the refrigerator at work, you will be lucky if someone hasn’t swiped it by lunchtime.


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It’s hard to say what catalyzed the rise of hummus from a little known Middle Eastern spread, to a food so popular that it can be bought in about as many forms, flavors, and quantities as anyone could ever want. It could be that it is very delicious and healthy.

It could also be that intense sense of satisfaction experienced while you gorge yourself on it like a foie gras duck at the gavage, because it makes the raw veggies you are eating en masse taste better than any salad dressing ever could.

Traditional hummus is made with tahini which is basically ground up sesame seeds. If a bottle of tahini that will likely go bad before it is used up is not in your budget, try substituting peanut butter. No it is not traditional, but hummus said goodbye to tradition ages ago.

Children who can be put off by the strong taste of tahini in regular hummus will love this version. This recipe is not velvety and smooth like some commercially produced hummus. For creamier hummus, you can peel the chickpeas.


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It’s simple to do, but not necessary.

1 can (14.5 oz) garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
¼ cup creamy peanut butter
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil + extra for blending
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons water
Salt, to taste
Large pinch paprika, to garnish
Chopped fresh flat leaf parsley, to garnish

Combine garbanzo beans, peanut butter, garlic, cumin, lemon juice, olive oil, and cayenne pepper in food processor. Process until creamy, and scrape down sides.

While processor is on, drizzle in water, you don’t have to use all of it, and then drizzle in additional olive oil while processing, until creamy consistency is achieved.

Scrape sides and bottom again, and process for a few more seconds. Spread hummus into a flat dish such as a ceramic pie plate, sweeping the top with a spoon to create a wavy appearance.

Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle paprika on half of dish, and sprinkle parsley over the top. Serve with fresh vegetable dippers or flat bread.


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Amelia Ames

Amelia Ames is a food writer and reviewer for Communities @Washington Times.  Her column Kitchen Journeys seeks to find the best in food, and those that prepare it for us.  Read more of her recipes, reviews and news at Gastronomy Girl. She received a B.S. in Zoology-Entomology from Brigham Young University.

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