Saturday, February 7, 2009

Better Than Homemade Hummus

My intention was to post about the Cook's Illustrated 'Restaurant-Style Hummus' recipe since we've had some success with it. Two things changed my mind. One is that, though we love the technique they employ to obtain the kind of super-smooth, creamy hummus we prefer, their preferred ratios of tahini, lemon and garlic aren't exactly right. I was going to mess about with the recipe some more to arrive at our perfect proportions, but then the second thing struck me: we have no fault to find at all with Trader Joe's Mediterranean Style Hummus. We like the texture and the balance of flavors. Sure, if one wanted to maximize, I suppose some subtle improvements might be nice. But, by and large, we could eat this hummus daily and often do, Elspeth included. It's closer to our hummus ideal than the Cook's recipe without making any changes.

I'm one of those people who makes most food from scratch and did so before being a mom, though I'd say I'm more, well, fanatical about it now. Because we liked the Cook's hummus technique, I felt obliged to make our own hummus all the time. But then I realized that this is silly. Sure, the Trader Joe's hummus isn't organic, but the fact is anything I make at home isn't going to be any fuller of local ingredients than TJ's, one of our other key values. I'm giving myself permission to save the time and energy I would have put toward trying to perfect the Cook's recipe. We're going to keep stocking our fridge with Trader Joe's Mediterranean Style Hummus (which, the way, Elspeth likes in combination with the Olive and Sun Dried Tomato Spread for her lunches). And maybe I'll use that time and energy I'm saving to do something fun.

PS The other alternative we have to the TJ hummus, is one that we found at our farmers' market. It's not quite as tasty as the TJ stuff, nor as wonderfully creamy. However, what makes it special is that all the ingredients are local, from the chickpeas to the oil (with the exception of lemon juice, I think). They use grapeseed oil instead of olive oil and some seed akin to flaxseed instead of sesame (tahini). It ain't cheap ($5 for a pot half or a third the size of a TJ hummus), but we can add it to our hummus repertoire and it'll still keep me out of the kitchen!

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