Vacation Hummus

By vvvanessa
November 11, 2014
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Author Notes: On our first trip to Portugal, my father and I were meandering the streets of Lisbon when we stumbled upon Pois, Café, a bustling, slightly hipsterish restaurant that looked like the perfect place to refuel for our sightseeing. I ordered a Middle Eastern-inspired platter with carrot and cucumber salads, meatballs, fresh greens, roasted tomatoes, and an intriguing hummus which had a particular flavor I had never picked up on in hummus before. It took me a moment to figure out that the secret ingredient must be sesame oil, which made so much sense to me when I thought about how tahini-- ground sesame seeds-- is a standard ingredient in most hummus recipes.

Of all the wonderful pastries and luscious sheep cheeses and lovely pork dishes I ate on that trip, the hummus was the one thing I couldn't stop thinking about, so naturally I tried to replicate it as soon as I got home. There isn't a lot of sesame oil in the recipe, but it is one of those ingredients that can easily get out of hand, becoming bitter and unpleasant, so I aimed to use just enough to be interesting but not overpowering.

The cilantro salsa was born from a surplus of cilantro and is one of my favorite ways to use dried aleppo peppers, which are more flavorful than hot. I find that cayenne powder varies so much in intensity that I recommend starting with just a pinch and adding more to taste.

Makes: about 2 1/2 cups


  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas, either homemade or a 15 1/2-ounce can
  • 1 clove of garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 2 tablespoons tahini or almond butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 2-3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3-4 tablespoons (or more) warm water

Cilantro Salsa

  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro leaves (stems removed), about 1 packed cup
  • 1/2-1 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon aleppo pepper flakes
  • 1-2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • cayenne pepper to taste
  1. To make the hummus, combine all the ingredients except the water in a food processor and blend for a few seconds to bring them together. Add the water a tablespoon at a time, continuing to blend the hummus, until you reach the consistency you like. I add about 1/4 cup of water total because I like a lighter, looser texture. Adjust seasonings to taste.
  2. To make the cilantro sauce, blend all the ingredients in a food processor until it looks like a sauce. Adjust seasoning to taste and serve on top of or alongside the hummus.

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