hummus with “green goo”

Hummus has been on our menu from the start. We serve buckets and buckets each week and it flys out of our take-out department. My Jordanian friend Hanna shared with me the secrets of good hummus. The story goes that his mama used to put baking soda in with the garbanzo beans while they were cooking so that the skins would slip right off, float to the top, and be easily skimmed away. I don’t bother. I think the real reason why our hummus is so popular is the yummy “green goo,” which we spread on top of the hummus. By making the goo daily, the hummus doesn’t take on that tired pungent garlic taste that often mars store bought hummus.

Hanna serves his hummus with fried pine nuts on top of the hummus and green goo. If you so desire, sautee a handful of pine nuts in 1/2 cup of olive oil at low to medium-low heat until the pine nuts turn golden brown. Carefully remove the pine nuts from the oil and place on top of the hummus and green goo.

I generally prefer to use an olive oil with fruitier flavors, as opposed to the more grassy and green-flavored olive oils. For this recipe, make sure you buy good quality tahini, preferably at a Middle Eastern market, and that it is well stirred before using (okay, I confess, I have used peanut butter in place of tahini in a pinch, and the results are surprisingly delicious!). The hummus will last for several days refrigerated. Just bring the hummus to room temperature before you serve it, and adjust with salt and lemon juice, if necessary. Because the hummus will thicken once it is chilled, it may need to be thinned with a little water to the consistency of soft mashed potatoes.

HUMMUS:
2 cups dried garbanzo beans
1/2 cup tahini
1/2 cup lemon juice
2 teaspoons salt
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cup water
“GREEN GOO” TOPPING:
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh Italian parsley (about 1/2 bunch)
1 tablespoon finely chopped jalapeno pepper without the seeds (about 1 jalapeno)
2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic (about 2-3 cloves)
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

To make the hummus, cover the dried garbanzo beans in a large bowl with 6 cups of water for at least 3 hours or overnight. Drain the soaked beans and transfer to a medium saucepan. Cover the beans with cold water making sure there is at least 2 inches above the level of the beans. Bring to a boil over medium heat and cook gently until very soft, about 45 minutes. Make sure that the garbanzos are fully cooked and soft or you will have an undesirable coarse-textured hummus. Drain the cooked beans. Transfer the beans to the bowl of a food processor, and process with the lemon juice, salt and 1 cup of water until as smooth as possible. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the olive oil and tahini, and process again until completely smooth and creamy. If the hummus is too thick, add a little more water.

To make the green goo, combine the parsley, jalapeno pepper, garlic and olive oil in a medium bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste.

To serve, drizzle the green goo over the hummus in a decorative bowl. Serve at room temperature with soft or toasted pita bread, or crudités.

Serves 4 to 6 as an appetizer.

From Insalata’s restaurant in San Anselmo, California