Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Homemade Hummus - a low fat recipe

Talk about easy. Making hummus can be summarized in three quick steps: 1) add ingredients to food processor, 2) puree, and 3) eat. But leave it to me to complicate things a little. I thought I'd at least try and lighten up this Middle Eastern staple. Which is not to say that I have anything against the traditional ingredients used in original recipes. The distinctive flavors of chick peas with creamy tahini and fresh parsley, served with warm pieces of pita bread, solicits day dreams of antiquated seaside villages, and brilliant, blue Mediterranean waters, permeated by the actual aromas of sesame, olive oil, and lemons.

Since my goal was to reduce calories, the first ingredient I manipulated was tahini. Tahini is simply toasted sesame seeds which have been ground into a paste. Sesame seeds are also used to make sesame oil so it follows that tahini would contain a good amount of fat. I decided to substitute it for greek yogurt. Low fat greek yogurt, in particular, because it contains just enough fat to lend a creamy texture to the dip but, at the same time, is not as high in calories as tahini. (One hundred and twenty calories per cup of low fat yogurt compared to eighty eight per tablespoon of tahini.)

Next came the lemon juice. I discovered Moroccan preserved lemons last spring and have been using it in most of my seafood dishes and stews, so I always keep some in my refrigerator. The preserving solution also comes in handy but not in a calorie-specific way. It simply imparts a strong, tangy flavor and can be used in most savory dishes that call for fresh lemon juice. But where can one find Moroccan preserved lemons, besides Morocco? They are not as elusive as the name might suggest. I know that Whole Foods carries it as do many imported food stores. But if you can't find them at all, go ahead and use the juice of fresh lemons - the fact that your hummus is fresh and homemade will eclipse any minor ingredient substitution.

Homemade Hummus
Makes approximately 2 cups

1 can chick peas
2 garlic cloves
1/4 plain greek yogurt*
2 tbsp preserved lemon juice **
1/4 cup chopped parsley
2 tbsp olive oil

1. Drain the chick peas from the can and add to a pot with just enough water to cover them. Boil for ten minutes. Drain and add to food processor with the garlic, yogurt, and lemon juice. Puree until smooth.
2. Fold in the parsley, and transfer to a serving bowl. Just before serving, drizzle with the olive oil and garnish with pickled peppers (optional.) Serve with pieces of pita bread or whole grain crackers.

* Here I used low fat greek yogurt for a lower calorie hummus but for the traditional version, simply use the same amount of tahini instead.

** If you can't find preserved lemon juice, use the juice of fresh lemons.


Tasty Eats At Home said...

This sounds delicious! I love hummus. Of course, I do love the tahini in it - but for a lighter version, (and the way I could eat hummus, I need a lighter version!) I really like yours!

Chennette said...

Did you find the hummus tasted less nutty without the tahini? I know the tahini gives it a distinctive flavour - While chick peas can be nutty, I wondered whether there was any other nut/paste that could be used in a lighter version inplace of the tahini?

Natasha said...

Tasty Eats,
You can, for sure, replace the yogurt with tahini here. Or maybe use half yogurt and half tahini.
And I think you and I both eat hummus the same way; I could have it as a meal! lol
Thanks for stopping by!

No, not at all. In fact, by using plain yogurt, the starchy, nuttiness of the chick peas was maintained. As I mentioned to Tasty Eats, above, if you prefer the taste of tahini but still want a lighter version, maybe instead of replacing all of the tahini with yogurt, just substitute half. Hope this helps. :o)

Sophie said...

MMMMMM,..I love your take on food!

This is lovely & so apart too!
A great idea!

Natasha said...

Thanks Sophie,
I appreciate all of your comments. Especially when I take a new direction on old/traditional recipes, it's good to know that people can see my inspiration and rationale.

Susieqtpies said...

I've made hummus but it never did anything for me! I wanted to eat it but it was missing something.
I've had hummus in other places that I loved. This recipe looks very promising. I am going to make it this week.
Thanks for explaining the ingredients and why you are using them.

Natasha said...

Thanks for the feedback on my explanation of the ingredients. Hope this homemade version clinches it for you.

Jonica said...

This recipe sounds amazing. But do you have the nutritional values for the recipe? I'm a religious calorie counter. Thanks!

Natasha said...

Hello Jonica,

The recipe yields approximately 2 cups, with a calorie count of about 490.

Thanks for you interest!


Anonymous said...

does 1/4 greek yogurt mean 1/4Cup?

Anonymous said...

Use ground nut oil or light sesame oil to keep the nutty taste!