If April showers bring May flowers, what does a May storm bring?
It’s a very soggy day, shocking because it is almost June, and despite the chill rain outside it is warm and cozy inside the Roost. My cupboards are a little bare however, and I was not inclined to venture out in the storm to go to Trader Joe’s for groceries, despite a strong craving for TJ’s white bean hummus.
This craving actually set upon me last night, but I did find a bag of small white beans in the pantry and set aside a small amount to soak.
This morning’s gloom strengthened my resolve to emulate sloth-like behavior, so I started making preparations for my own white bean hummus.
First the beans. Hummus is traditionally made with chickpeas or garbanzo beans, and it is delicious, however I have come to prefer the smooth, silky, pale white bean hummus that is sold at TJ’s, topped with olive oil, spices and herbs. But it’s not cheap, and added to the inconvenience of slogging through the rain to shop, I knew I had everything I needed at home to make my own. Instead of using more expensive canned beans, which one can certainly do, I prefer to cook my own beans. These home cooked beans have so much more flavor than any canned bean could ever impart.
I soaked the beans overnight in my largest pot filled with cool water and a palmful of Kosher salt.
This morning, I drained and rinsed the beans, and in a 3 quart pan sauteed a few slivers of red onion, Mexican oregano and a bay leaf in olive oil. The beans went in and were covered with cold water plus another inch above the level of the beans. I simmered them on medium low heat until they were tender but still intact. This time, the simmering time was 65 minutes. It really depends upon how big your beans are, and upon how old they are. The bag in my pantry was of unknown provenence, so they needed a bit extra time. Rancho Gordo beans from Rainbow or flajolets from Tierra Vegetables at the farmers market take anywhere from 35-45 minutes to cook fully into tender, succulent, beany morsels.
I let the beans cool off heat in the pan while I puttered about the Roost (applying for a zillion jobs online, actually).
Nearer to lunchtime, I uncrossed my eyes and set out to finish the hummus. I pulled out my Cuisinart and arranged my mis en place for the recipe. I cannot emphasize enough how essential it is for me to set out all the ingredients I need for a recipe before I start cooking and to reread the recipe. This saves me so much time during cooking, prevents mistakes and those “oops” moments where you realize the recipe requires you to do something the night before, or has to rest an hour after cooking when you are on a deadline.
Since I make hummus fairly regularly I no longer refer to a recipe but measured everything today for this article. Hummus is composed of beans, tahini, a clove of garlic, fresh lemon juice, olive oil, water or bean cooking liquid, cumin, salt, pepper, Aleppo pepper or cayenne and olive oil. If you don’t have a Cuisinart you can use a blender.
I minced the garlic, and added the tahini and the beans, lifted out of their cooking water with a slotted spoon.
The Cuisinart went on and beautifully pureed everything to a smooth paste. I then added olive oil, cumin, salt, black pepper, a shake of Aleppo pepper and the lemon juice and turned the machine back on to blend. Then, I tasted it for salt and lemon and this time added another lemon because I like my hummus fairly tangy and the Meyer lemons I was using are sweet and mild. With the machine running I added a bit of the bean liquid to loosen the mixture to a nice soft consistency. That’s it!
Besides cooking the beans, the total preparation time for hummus takes under 5 minutes and will cost you a quarter of the prepared hummus retail price.
Half of the hummus went into a tub and chilled in the refrigerator. The other half became my lunch. I spread the hummus in a pretty bowl and swirled some olive oil on top. I sprinkled on some cumin, Aleppo pepper, paprika and crunchy Maldon sea salt and sat down with some rustic bread and a handful of spring baby carrots from the farmers market.
The wild parrots kept me company, peeking through the window where they perched soggily on the fire escape, squawking occasionally. The cat lolled lazily on the dhurri next to the window, one eye on the parrots and one eye on me, in case I dropped a morsel. I watched the rain come down in sheets and marveled at the colors of the damp parrot a mere two feet away while I munched and dunked into my beautiful bowl of savory hummus. It was truly a perfect lunch for a strange weather day.