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Hummus
Tahini, a stiff paste made from toasted ground sesame seeds, is one of the most important ingredients in Middle Eastern cooking. Here it is used to make a garlicky chickpea puree flavored with cumin. If you would like a spicier mix, add a little cayenne pepper. Serve with warm pita or crusty bread.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/3 cups dried chickpeas
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice, plus more as needed
  • 1/2 cup tahini
  • 4 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3/4 tsp. salt, plus more as needed
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cumin
  • 2 tsp. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • Large pinch of paprika
  • 6 lemon wedges or radishes
  • 1/4 cup brine-cured black olives, such as Kalamata

Directions:

Pick over the chickpeas and discard any misshapen chickpeas and stones. Rinse the chickpeas and drain. Place in a bowl, add water to cover generously, and let stand for at least 4 hours or up to overnight.

Drain the chickpeas and place in a saucepan with water to cover by 2 inches. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, until the skins crack and the chickpeas are very tender, about 1 hour. Remove from the heat and drain, reserving the cooking liquid.

In a food processor or blender, combine the chickpeas, the 1/2 cup lemon juice, the tahini, 3 Tbs. of the olive oil, the garlic, the 3/4 tsp. salt and the cumin. Process until a soft, creamy paste forms, adding a bit of the cooking liquid to loosen the texture, if necessary. Taste and add more lemon juice and salt, if needed.

Transfer the puree to a serving bowl and spread with the back of a spoon to form a shallow well. Drizzle with the remaining 1 Tbs. olive oil. Sprinkle with the parsley and paprika. Garnish with the lemon wedges and olives and serve.
Serves 6.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Lifestyles Series, Small Plates, by Joanne Weir (Time-Life Books, 1998).