Hummus + Fungus = Humungous flavor!

When I was a child I remember getting strange looks from my classmates when I brought my hummus sandwiches to school. “What is that weird beige stuff in your sandwich?”  I would get asked by wide eyed children time and time again. I was quite embarrassed because I wanted to fit in with the other classmates, begging my parents repeatedly for peanut butter and jelly. I’m glad they didn’t cave in to my requests. The tahini alone in the hummus is loaded with omega 3s, manganese, copper, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, vitamin C , B6, E, K, folate, thiamin, and 20 essential amino acids. Oh and did I mention tahini also contains tryptophan, phenylalanine and tyrosine –all used to treat depression? Try to beat that PB &J! Fast forward a couple of decades, and I had no idea that hummus would become so popular, morphing into various gourmet flavors from pesto to sun dried tomato and even into hummus chips as a snack. The word hummus in Arabic means garbanzo bean. These particular beans are economical, full of filling protein and fiber, and eaten any time of day in the Middle East. In my family we serve it alongside fresh farmer cheese, pita bread, tomatoes, and pickles for breakfast, topped with braised lamb and pine nuts for a hearty brunch, or draped over falafel or tabbouleh in pita bread for a tasty veggie sandwich at lunch. Hummus is not just a condiment, but can be a filling entrée with the right accompaniments. As my family observes Lent by going vegetarian for 40 days before for Easter, I start getting really creative with hummus, and one of my favorite preparations is hummus with warm sautéed mushrooms.
As a vegetable, mushrooms have protein as well and are quite meaty like in flavor. Topped with some toasted pine nuts, this dish is a vegan winner, combining different kinds of mushrooms for a more elegant presentation. You can serve this to your guests with vegetables and pita bread for dipping to round out a complete meal. Creating hummus from scratch seems to intimidate people for some reason, which is puzzling because there is nothing more simple to make when under a time crunch. In my opinion, my father Admon makes the ultimate hummus. When I’d hear the whirl of the food processor on Sunday mornings accompanied by his whistling, I knew he was making a fantastically fresh batch of hummus for us to enjoy on a lazy Sunday. And now, you can recreate his spectacular hummus in your own home with his recipe. 

Here’s my video tutorial:

For the hummus:

1   (15-ounce) can chickpeas  

1/3   cup tahini (see Note)  

1/3   cup lemon juice, or to taste  

1   clove garlic, or to taste  

1/8   teaspoon cumin  

1   teaspoon salt, or to taste  

2   tablespoons butter  

1/4   cup pine nuts  

For the mushroom topping:

4 oz crimini mushrooms

4 oz shitake mushrooms

2 shallots finely minced

4 cloves garlic, finely minced

1tbs butter

1 tbs extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp allspice

½ tsp lemon pepper

Salt to taste

  For Pine nuts:

1/3 cup pine nuts

1 tbsp extra olive oil  

Optional Garnishes:

Paprika and parsley 


Drain chickpeas, reserving about 1/4 cup liquid. Place chickpeas with tahini, lemon juice, garlic, cumin and salt in a food processor and blend until smooth. If hummus is too thick, add some liquid one tbsp. at a time until it reaches desired consistency.

Melt butter and olive oil in skillet, add shallots and sauté for about 3 minutes, then add garlic and sauté for one minute. Add mushrooms and continue sautéing until mushrooms are nice and browned. In another smaller skillet, heat 1 tbsp. of olive oil, then add the pine nuts, stirring constantly for about 1 minute until browned. Remove from skillet and set aside immediately to avoid burning the pine nuts.

To assemble, place hummus in the center of a large flat plate and spread it toward the edges with a spoon, so that it looks like a pizza crust on the outer edges. Spoon the mushroom mixture in the middle, then sprinkle with the pine nuts. If desired, garnish edges with dashes of paprika, chopped parsley and more drizzled olive oil. Serves 4-6

Note: Tahini is a paste made from ground sesame seeds. Fortunately this paste is now available in some of the larger supermarkets and natural-foods stores, but I prefer to buy the brands from Jordan and Lebanon sold in the small Middle Eastern stores, as they have a more authentic flavor. They also seem fresher in these types of stores because there is more turnover from the clientele.

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