Campus is Cookin’: Zesty Hummus

Crunchy, fragrant pieces of pita bread dipped in smooth hummus invoke thoughts of the Mediterranean, of outdoor café finger-food in the middle of heavy summer heat. Hummus is a burst of freshness in the middle of winter. The first time I ever had hummus, it was from a small container sitting in the middle of a pile of freshly baked pita bread at a New Year’s party. I was at that age when anything remotely healthy was abhorrent, but I dared to dollop a little of it on a plate. I tasted it and fell in love. Hummus is surprisingly versatile and fairly simple to make. Typically it consists of garbanzo beans, or chickpeas, mixed in a food processor with a few spoonfuls of olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and salt until it reaches a creamy consistency. It provides a good base for other flavor profiles, as complex or simple as you wish. Most homemade hummus recipes contain sesame, but because it’s difficult to get sesame here, any other nut paste will do. I use peanut butter, because that’s what Commons provides. As weird as it may sound, a tiny bit of peanut butter brings out the brightness of the lemon and gives the hummus a more complex background of flavors. Start with a soup bowl and a fork. Fill about 2/3 of the soup bowl with chickpeas and drizzle three spoonfuls of olive oil into the bowl. Mash with a fork until the chickpeas have the consistency of chunky peanut butter. Sprinkle salt in to taste and keep mashing, adding olive oil if the hummus gets too thick to mash easily, and adding chickpeas if the hummus starts looking at all liquidy. Using the pepper mills by the pasta and waffle makers upstairs, grind a little pepper into the hummus and keep stirring. Then briskly stir in roughly half a spoonful, of peanut butter. Get a little bit of garlic from the stir fry station and stir into the hummus. If the mixture is starting to look less chunky, switch to a spoon to mash more finely. Drizzle a little bit of olive oil into a salad bowl and add half a teaspoon of Dijon mustard. Whisk briskly with a fork until just combined. Cut a piece of pita bread in half and lightly cover the pita in oil on both sides, and set in the panini-maker until the bread is a dark golden brown on both sides. Slice and eat with hummus and cubed cherry tomatoes. Enjoy!