Yeah, you can buy the plastic tub of hummus at the store---and I often do----but sometimes I like to make an extra-special batch of hummus. The kind that tastes so much better! It's a project...
I had not thought about making my own sesame paste before reading this Japanese Cookbook (I know---again with that cookbook!) and her recommendation of making your own sesame paste. She described the taste as more subtle and true in flavor than jarred tahini.
Always willing to try something new, I decided to make some. It's really very simple: toast a layer of sesame seeds in a dry saute pan only until they begin to move around a bit and pop. They burn quickly so keep an eye on them---only toast them to a tan color! Let them cool a bit and place them in a mortar & pestle. (I have a Thai granite mortar & pestle that I use frequently for all sorts of kitchen jobs, such as grinding up spices to release their flavor, Thai cooking, and even making guacamole). I suppose one could grind up the sesame seeds in a Cuisinart, but I think the mortar & pestle renders the seeds into a smoother paste and presses the flavors out better. This will take a bit of grinding, however...
But there is a pay off to all the grinding. Suddenly, a wondrous aroma of toasted sesame will waft up and out of the bowl, urging you on in the endeavor. Initially, I made the sesame paste to add to Miso Soup as described in the cookbook. This was WONDERFUL and I highly recommend trying it.
This weekend, I craved pita and hummus. I thought about my ground sesame paste and decided to try a new and improved hummus. I turned to one of my favorite hummus recipes (below).
If I'm going to go to the trouble of making my own hummus, I go all the way and cook the garbanzo beans beforehand. They are very easy to cook after soaking overnight. I believe the flavor of the home cooked beans versus the ones in the can in the resulting hummus is much better: just like the sesame paste, it's more subtle and "real" tasting...
Hummus with Fresh Ground Sesame Paste
2 C. cooked garbanzo beans (reserve liquid)
1/3 C. fresh lemon juice
3 T. ground sesame paste
2 garlic cloves, pressed through a garlic press
1/2 tsp. cumin
Salt to taste
2 T. good olive oil
Sprinkling of sweet paprika
Method: In a food processor, grind together garbanzo beans, lemon juice, garlic, cumin, and salt until blended. Add enough reserved cooking liquid to form a smooth paste.
Transfer the paste to a serving bowl and float the olive oil on top and sprinkle with paprika. This recipe makes quite a bit of hummus so I often make two different kinds out of the large batch...
Variation: (pictured above, on the left):
Add 1/3 C. kalamata olives to the blended mixture and blend only until they are coarsely ground.
And while you're at it, why not make your own pita bread?! Joanna of Mothers of Invention posted a wonderful recipe and instructions last week...