I read about Smitten Kitchen’s technique for making the fluffiest of hummuses a few weeks ago (http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2013/01/ethereally-smooth-hummus) and although I have no reason to doubt the culinary sagacity of its author (on the contrary I am a great admirer), I do know that I don’t always have the time for ‘fiddly’ … and peeling cooked chickpeas (which is what she suggests) definitely falls under the category of ‘fiddly’ in my book. I would have thought that the trick to a smooth hummus is making sure that the chickpeas are cooked through and through, which can take up to one and a half hours and not, as the she claims “They’ll need to cook for 20 to 40 minutes, sometimes even longer, depending on freshness, to become tender”! She is a little evasive about what ‘sometimes even longer’ means exactly. All I know is that I boil the chickpeas in a pressure cooker for over one hour, or 1 and a half to 2 hours in an ordinary pot…. And that’s how I get my hummus to concede utter defeat in matters masticatory, not even deigning to consider their peel as an adversary to texture.
All this pondering over hummus preparation reminded me that, about two years ago, I’d tasted a wonderful variation in the most unlikely of places — at the restaurant of Il Cefalicchio hotel in Puglia (www.cefalicchio.it/en), whose chef had wandered outside of Italy and had fallen in love with hummus but not with the surfeit aftertaste of garlic. He explained to us that his hummus was made with orange rather than lemon, and that he had eschewed garlic altogether — a move that made my garlic-fearing friend L. who was with me most happy! (I shall have to write a post about the Italians and their recent garlic-reluctant attitude one of these days ….).
Anyway … so here is my version of orange-scented hummus.
I placed the zest in a pan of water and brought it to the boil. The minute it came to the boil I threw the water out and repeated the operation another 3 times. This was to take any bitterness out of the orange zest.
I then poured olive oil into a jar and added the zest to it, as well as one clove of garlic all sliced up. The idea was for the garlic to seep its scent into the olive oil in a discrete, rather than overpowering garlicky, way.
I put two tablespoons of tahini paste into a bowl, with some difficulty — tahini paste is notoriously thick and unhelpful to handle. I then squeezed some lemon juice into it, I didn’t want the lemon to overpower the orange, but was convinced that some lemon juice was required in any case.
I had some paprika equivalent from Basilicata that I used to sprinkle over the hummus …And, final touch, some more olive oil. A few whole chickpeas would have been called for but, in my haste to get on with milling the boiled chickpeas, I had forgotten to set some aside.
I am not sure I would make this hummus again. It was very light and fluffly and ‘delicate’ and I think I prefer the ‘normal’ hummus but my dinner guests that evening all ooohed and aaahed over it, and one friend took the leftovers home … so … I suppose they liked it.