Hummus got me thinking.

The Cookbook Wall
The Cookbook Wall

I didn’t realize until last night that my kids, now grown women, might have discarded the chicken nugget palates of their childhoods. While I’ve always loved cooking, my kids rarely loved what I made. (Meanwhile, my husband and friends who shared our meals were generous with their compliments. The food couldn’t have been that bad!) My picky eaters scraped the ricotta fillings out of pasta shells and fed pieces of stir-fried chicken and sugar snap peas to the dogs under the table well beyond adolescence. Somehow, nightly dinners still became a treasured family ritual, and I gradually gave up hoping that my daughters would ever dig into a beef stew the way they love cheese dip. So who was this person standing in my kitchen last night asking for the hummus recipe?

I swallowed my shock and pulled Young & Hungry, by Dave Lieberman (© 2005), off the shelf of the cookbook wall. “Here,” I said to my first born, the one who had vomited carrots into her dinner plate about 17 years earlier. “I think we have everything in the pantry if you want to make it.”

We did, and she did. Here’s how, adapted from Mr. Lieberman’s original “Not Your Ordinary Hummus.”

Hummus

What makes it special and different (and easier) is the use of dark Asian sesame oil instead of tahini. Look for dark sesame oil in the Asian food section of your grocery store. Makes about 2 cups.

2 15-ounce cans chick peas (aka garbanzo beans), drained into a colander and rinsed with cold water

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Juice of half a lemon

2 tablespoons roughly chopped Italian parsley

2 garlic cloves, peeled (and husky end trimmed off)

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon dark Asian sesame oil

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

12 grinds of fresh pepper

Put all ingredients into a food processor fitted with a knife blade and process until smooth and creamy. If you don’t have a food processor, use a blender, but be prepared to scrape down the sides many times. If you don’t have a blender, put everything in a big bowl and mash with a potato masher or a big wooden spoon, like the ancients must have.

To serve, dollop onto one big plate (or two smaller ones, if you want to save some for another day). Smooth the top with the back of a spoon. Garnish with a generous sprinkle of smoked paprika, then pour a little extra-virgin olive oil over. Sprinkle with more roughly-chopped parsley. I like to serve this with hot flatbread (Kangaroo brand is good), cut into triangles. Keep the flatbread warm wrapped in a kitchen towel on another plate.

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