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If you've met freshly made hummus—the kind that's creamy and buoyant, light enough to swoop your pita through yet rich from chickpeas and not at all bitter—store-bought hummus (at least the kind that's readily available) can be a letdown. Stiff and heavy, overly lemony or generally bland, but a realistic settlement: Sometimes you want hummus and you just don't have the time or energy or willpower to make it.
In these instances, store-bought hummus gets the job done—but there's a trick to make it much more appealing, in both texture and flavor, in a matter of seconds: For an 8-ounce container of hummus, gradually fold in 2 to 3 tablespoons of Greek yogurt (you probably already have it!) with a spatula until you see that the hummus is simultaneously lighter and creamier.
Taste it, adjust the salt and pepper, then, if you want to go the extra mile, drizzle it with olive oil, sprinkle with paprika, and pretend you made it yourself. (Hummus purists, I hope I have not offended you with the addition of yogurt.)
The tip comes from Jenny Rosenstrach's website Dinner: A Love Story (she's also the author of a book by the same name, Dinner: The Playbook, and, most recently, How to Celebrate Everything), and she learned it from her friend, Heidi, who
thinks she originally got the idea from Ottolenghi or Nigella, but has been hacking her hummus for quite a while now, usually starting with Whole Foods’ store brand plain hummus (none of those weird flavored numbers) because it had the right amount of lemon. The addition of yogurt gave it a subtle tang, but mostly it was about the texture. It’s crazy how much more appealing it looked than your average plastic-sealed supermarket variety.
Inspired, the next morning I picked up a container of Trader Joe’s “Smooth and Creamy Classic Hummus” along with a seven-ounce 2% Fage plain Greek yogurt. (My TJs didn’t have full fat version.) I scraped the hummus into a mixing bowl, then folded in a large tablespoon of yogurt at a time—sorta like folding in egg whites into a batter—until it reached the same luscious consistency of Heidi’s. (In total I used about three heaping tablespoons.) I decanted the whole thing into a little serving bowl, topped with olive oil, tiny bit of sea salt, some paprika, then watched as both kids attacked the stuff with pita chips. Definitely a keeper.
Ottolenghi has actually disavowed the addition of Greek yogurt (along with peanut butter—which Nigella recommends!—and olive oil). But when hummus is what we want and store-bought hummus is the best option, yogurt we will add.
And, if you want to take this yogurt situation even farther, and you do have the desire to make hummus from scratch, Martha Rose Shulman's Turkish Hummus replaces the tahini with yogurt entirely for an altogether airier dip.
How do you doctor up store-bought hummus? Tell us in the comments!