hummus-wreath-oliveoilOne of the world’s first cultivated foods, chickpeas were eaten by ancient Egyptians along with the folks who created the Roman Empire. Then along came some Middle Easterners who pureed those chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, blended them with a few tasty ingredients and voila — hummus was born. Now centuries later, hummus is big again. And why not? It’s got four powerful pluses going for it: it’s healthy, cheap, can be served in countless ways and it’s a breeze to make.

Along with the main ingredient, chickpeas, typical hummus contains lemon juice or vinegar, garlic, tahini (sesame seed butter), and olive oil. The hummus in Martha Stewart’s basic recipe can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Packed with protein and vitamins, hummus also contains rich minerals such as folic acid, zinc and magnesium.  Along with other beans, it may help to defend cells from genetic changes that could lead to cancer, according to lab tests at the American Institute for Cancer Research.

Beyond being used as a simple spread on sandwiches and wraps, hummus makes a great dip for chips or raw veggies, a zippy dressing (after being thinned) for salads, an accompaniment for burgers in place of ketchup or mustard, a topping for bruschetta and a less fatty substitute for mayonnaise or cream cheese.

Because chickpeas compliment so many other flavors, the range of hummus dishes is wide in scope. This extensive collection of recipes even contains a hummus with black beans standing in for chickpeas.

For those on a gung-ho diet, here’s a hummus recipe lower in the calorie department thanks to the addition of yogurt.

Has hummus hit your dining table yet?

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