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.
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.