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Due to its high protein content, the chickpea is a main food staple in the Mediterranean and Middle East. This recipe is fairly authentic, and although it is simple to make, it is difficult to master.
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Chef Ryan Callahan
Author of Cooking for Chemo...and After! and Cooking for Kids with Cancer

Ten years ago, people would have looked at you as if you had 5 heads when you talked about hummus. Now, the bean paste made from the chickpea (aka the garbanzo bean) is in every grocery store across America. Hummus is actually the Egyptian word for chickpea. Due to its high protein content, the chickpea is a main food staple in the Mediterranean and Middle East. This recipe is fairly authentic, and although it is simple to make, it is difficult to master. I highly recommend using canned chickpeas over dried ones, as it can make quite a mess. The key here is to balance the lemon and the olive oil as explained further in the recipe. Hummus can be used as a sandwich spread or eaten alone, and has many other uses. You can infuse the hummus with garlic, roasted red peppers, olives, ground pistachios, or whatever you choose. It is exceptionally versatile, and its limitations are only our imagination.

Tasting Guidelines:

  • This dish should taste lightly savory and a little spicy.
  • The weight of this dish is light but can be balanced with lemon juice and olive oil.
  • The texture of this dish is creamy.
  • This dish is good for people with low-to-severe treatment side effects.
  • This dish gives an emotional response of healthy goodness.
  • This dish is best categorized as classic Mediterranean.


  • 1 large can chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans)
  • 1/2 c. tahini (sesame paste)
  • Olive oil as needed


  • 2 tbsp. garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp. cumin (preferably roasted cumin)
  • Fresh Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped

Flavor Balancers:

  • Kosher salt to taste
  • Juice of 1 lemon


  • Pita bread cut into wedges, savory cracker, or crusty bread
  • Olive oil (Regular cooking olive oil or extra virgin olive oil)

Recipe Directions:

  1. Empty chickpeas into a pot and heat until warm, then drain.
  2. Mash chickpeas into mixing bowl by hand or use your handy-dandy food processor to reduce chickpeas into a puree or a mash. I personally like to add the cumin and garlic at this point so it has a chance to cook into the hot chickpeas, mellowing the flavor.
  3. After thoroughly mashed, mix in the remaining ingredients in this order: tahini, lemon juice, salt, and olive oil. What you are doing in this recipe is adding the thickening ingredients first, then adding olive oil to thin the hummus to the desired consistency.
  4. Check for thickness and flavor. It should taste warm and feel medium bodied at this point. If the paste is very thin and watery, then mix in more lemon juice, because the lemon juice acts as a thickener. If the paste is very thick, add more olive oil.
  5. At this point, you have 2 choices:
    • Put the paste on the stove at a low heat, cover, and allow flavors to work together. Chill and serve with a healthy portion of olive oil floated on top.
    • If you are happy with it, proceed to serve as is with a healthy dose of olive oil floated on top.

Chef Tips:

  • If you are a purist and you have the time, you can use dried chickpeas that you properly prepared, taking care to remove the skins that float off. I personally don’t have time, so I take the shortcut, as do most people who make hummus at home. Typically, in American grocery stores, garbanzo beans are found in the Mexican or ethnic food aisle of a major chain. This style of bean-based spread, or tapenade, can be made out of any fatty bean, like fava, cannellini, Great Northern, lima, butter beans, etc. It’s fun to experiment and try different ones.
  • Hummus can always be made with fun flavors like olives, roasted red peppers, and so on. I personally love to use hummus as a substitute for mayonnaise on turkey and Swiss cheese sandwiches.

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Last modified: March 10, 2022

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