What is Hummus, Anyway?
One of the growing food trends of the past few years (no, not pumpkin spice lattes) has been hummus. Information on hummus nutrition, hummus recipes, hummus dips, and more has exploded all over news sites and food blogs. You might eat hummus regularly, or have at least seen it around your local grocery store. But what is it, exactly?
It’s a fair question to ask. Hummus looks sort of strange, and can feel and taste different depending on how it’s made and what it’s made of. All hummus, however, begins with the same main ingredient: chickpeas. In fact, the word “hummus” is actually Arabic for “chickpea.” Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, are legumes originally found in the Mediterranean region. They were discovered around 3,000 B.C., and thought to be one of the earliest cultivated vegetables. Chickpeas are typically beige but can also be found in red and black varieties.
Hummus is made by moistening, cooking, and then crushing up several chickpeas into a thick paste. This paste is then mixed with tahini (another paste, but made from sesame seeds), as well as some kind of oil (typically olive oil, but not always). Salt and garlic are also typically added for additional flavor.
Why is Hummus so Popular?
Hummus has actually been a popular snack option for centuries. It just so happens that many Americans are just now catching on all at once! Aside from the zesty taste and smooth, buttery texture of hummus, this snack features healthy amount of protein. All beans are good sources of protein, and eating just two spoonfuls of hummus a day fulfills one’s bean recommendation for the week. Vegetarians are often looking for sources of protein other than meat, and hummus provides this source. This isn’t to say only vegetarians are hooked on hummus. This certainly is not the case. But because more and more people are turning away from meat or simply expanding their culinary horizons, hummus has become a popular choice for many.
Recipes Using Hummus
Hummus has several applications. Typically it’s used as a dip or a spread for crackers, pretzels, chips, or vegetables like celery and carrots. But hummus can be used in more creative ways as well. One unique recipe with hummus is a hummus burger, wherein one incorporates hummus into the beef before shaping it and cooking it. Another recipe with hummus uses hummus as pasta sauce. Hummus can even be made into a savory soup! The possibilities are nearly endless since hummus can complement just about any food you can imagine, and be rendered in so many ways. And if you run out of ideas for a recipe with hummus, the internet has no shortage of new, easy to make ideas!
Hummus might seem like a strange little substance, but it’s been enjoyed by humans for centuries and it shows no signs of going anywhere anytime soon. So grab a spoonful, take a dip, or try something new, and enjoy.