Beans are a prime source of protein, especially in a meal containing rice, as they know down in New Orleans with their Red Beans and Rice. However, one of the easier ways to eat more beans is to include hummus in your diet, especially if you like pita chips and want to go all ethnic with Middle Eastern flavors.
Last September I was in San Diego visiting my family and I discovered the Aladdin Mediterranean Restaurant, which is on Clairemont Vista Boulevard right off the freeway to the west if you are in the neighborhood.
The hummus that I ordered there must be world-class, because it is as creamy as mayonnaise and so delicate in flavor that you are hard put to analyze it. I am betting that a decent Middle Eastern restaurant has to serve darn good hummus, since it is a staple of their cuisine. However, I don't see how hummus could be any better than theirs.
Back in Tucson again, I found hummus readily available here in town, from Trader Joe's and Sprouts to my own neighborhood Fry's Supermarket. Pair it up with some good chips and you have an appetizer that you can live with, I tell you.
So this past week I received the latest edition of Bon Appetit magazine, and in it was a good basic recipe for hummus, which I am passing along. In doing that, I urge you to make a close check of the cracker aisle where you shop--there are some amazing chips and crackers out there, such as pita chips that are amazingly versatile if you want crunchy breading or just accompaniments to your hummus.
You could consider this recipe a basic, because if you look at the hummus that is out there you will see that it is flavored with many things such as Southwestern spices, herbs and garlic, and so on. But whatever you put in it, please make hummus, increase your intake of beans and enjoy a quiet, exotic dish.
1 clove of garlic
2 cans of chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed (15 ounces each)
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt (low-fat if you wish)
3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons Sherry vinegar
Pinch of ground cumin
Pinch of salt
A few grinds of white pepper
Place all these ingredients into a blender or food processor and run the machine until the mixture is as fine as you can get it.
Plate the hummus and drizzle with a little more extra-virgin olive oil, a few chopped mint leaves and any other garnish that you like.
An important recommendation for this recipe is that it makes use of canned garbanzos (or chickpeas or ceci beans), which means that you could keep a couple of cans in your kitchen pantry and have it ready whenever you have a sudden need for an appetizer. This could be elegant when paired with a delicate, dry white wine.