Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Black Bean Hummus: Discovery & Gratitude

Vegan Black Bean Hummus with crudite and hemp-corn chips

In the days following Thanksgiving, many blogs are featuring recipes that either 1) repurpose Thanksgiving leftovers or 2) help people cope with their eating remorse by being uber "healthy."  I suppose today's recipe could fit into either camp, because it is quite healthy and I'm sure that some of you out there did have black beans for Thanksgiving.  But even if it didn't, I'd still be sharing it with you, because above all, it is delicious.

It was inspired by my sister, Jessica.  I like to think that I'm pretty resourceful in the kitchen, but I can't hold a candle to her ingenuity and unflinching ability to make nothing into something.  She's my younger sister, yes, but she's really been a mentor to me when it comes to making gorgeous-tasting food and making it on the fly. 

The first time I remember her making a black bean hummus was during my grandmother's 100th birthday in 2008.  Reaching the century mark is a pretty big deal, so people from all over the world were visiting us in Michigan.  There was a large party planned at the church, involving not only the congregation but the community and all the doctors who had helped her to "stay young" over the years, and then there was going to be a party at our house for family and close friends.

My grandmother in her Sunday best.

Extended family from all around the globe in our pink living room.

She left the next day for Hawaii, where she winters.  Thus the leis.

I had flown in a couple of days previous, and with my mother and father frantically scrambling to organize all the guests, the menu-planning for the house party fell squarely into the laps of my sister and I.  Of course, I wouldn't have had it any other way, but with just over a day to plan and cook, I was feeling a bit frantic myself.

Did I mention that my family is Filipino?  Excuse the stereotype, but we eat a lot. 

So while I'm sweating and scribbling down ideas and shopping lists, my sister is calmly pulling things out of cupboards and the refrigerator and she just starts cooking.  Like nothing is up.  I eventually settled into my sister's rhythm, trading hyperventilation for laughter, as we dug our heels in and prepped, baked, and cooked into the wee hours of the morning.  We knew that we wanted to make hummus, but we only had one can of chickpeas.  My sister's solution?  Use black beans and lima beans and make a trio of hummuses.  I'm so glad we had that problem, because it gave me the opportunity to broaden my horizons and taste some amazing hummus that wasn't made from chickpeas.

And hopefully after reading today's post, you'll have the same opportunity as well. :)

Vegan Black Bean Hummus
(GF, DF, V, rSF, SF)

25 oz canned black beans
1/3 c liquid reserved from can
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 tablespoon tahini
1-2 teaspoons diced chile pepper (optional)
5-7 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons evoo
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4-1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle

* if using an upright blender, I would recommend halving the recipe and making it in two batches.

1.  Drain black beans, reserving 1/3 cup of the liquid. There should be approximately two cups of drained beans.
2.  Add beans, liquid, sliced garlic, tahini, fresh lemon juice, and chile pepper, if you choose, to food processor.  Pulse until all ingredients are roughly combined.
3.  Switch to a low continuous setting and slowly drizzle extra virgin olive oil through the food chute.  It is very important to drizzle slowly to help ensure a smooth, palatable texture.
4.  Add cumin and chipotle (it's up to you if you'd like a little more "heat"). Pulse until combined.
5.  Transfer to an airtight container and chill to allow flavors to come together.  If you choose to season further with salt, try to wait until the following day.  It will taste quite different (and in a good way).
6.  Makes 4-6 servings.

I like to 'sandwich' the garlic and tahini between layers of beans.  Not sure why.

Fantastic find at the farmers' market: genuinely hot poblano peppers.

The finished consistency - mostly smooth with a few delicious exceptions.

Midnight snack.  See the emerald glints of poblano?

Hummus, in general, is a healthy food choice.  A good source of protein, high in dietary fiber, and a natural source of antioxidants.  Use it in place of mayo on sandwiches, as a dip instead of queso or ranch-flavored sour cream, or even as a 'dressing' for your salad (my personal favorite).  And when you compare this hummus recipe with my classic recipe using chickpeas, this one calls for less olive oil and less tahini, making the black bean version even lower in fat and calories without sacrificing in the least for flavor.

Gorgeous local greens, pepitas, tomato, and hummus.

At the outset of writing this post, I was wondering, "How can I possibly tie this into Thanksgiving?"  And I honestly drew a blank, grasping at straws as I fell back on, "Well, it's delicious!"  But as I wrote more and more about the initial inspiration for this recipe, I realized that it was all about Thanksgiving.

Giving thanks for my beautiful, strong grandmother, who raised me as a child and instilled so many of the values that make me the man I am today.  Grateful for my sister, for being more than just a sibling and feeding not only with food, but with passion and creativity.  And so blessed to have a family that is grounded in love, faith, and compassion, who supports me in my pursuit of happiness, regardless of the route.

Life has a funny and often unexpected way of reminding us how blessed and fortunate we are.  Listen closely.


  1. Cooking with your sister sounds like fun! And, the black bean does look delicious. It looks great on the plate with the greens.

  2. Black Bean Hummus. What more is there to say? It is a staple for me. Prior to having made it myself I never had such a variety of hummus other than the usual chickpea (of course) fava bean and white bean. After I made my first batch of it; I was in love. Black Beans have such a heartier and earthier flavor to them (in comparison to standard chickpea based hummus) and the garlic and lemon only lend more depth to them. I've made Edamame hummus as well and I like it, but I love Black Bean Hummus. Once it's all mixed up it has a purplish hue to it; which to some people is a little off-putting, but not to me. I know that you need to eat your colors and I am not talking about eating crayons people ;p I remember making the trio of hummus for my Grandma's birthday. It was so crazy in the kitchen, but all of the food we made was appreciated. Some people were still wary of our 'healthier' food, but most of them who tasted it were amazed =) I am happy that I could help inspire you in the kitchen. I really think that some of the best dishes are unplanned. Thanks for sharing your recipe for Black Bean Hummus; I'm sure it'll open new doors to your readers out there. Mabuting Kumain, Kuya! =)

  3. Thanks, Lisa! She is tons of fun to cook with, and in just over a week, I'll have the fortune of doing just that when she comes down for a visit. And those salad greens were courtesy of Austin Organics. I _love_ being able to buy lettuce that's grown minutes from where I live.

  4. Eating Yeah, it was a crazy night, but we definitely did ourselves proud. So looking forward to your visit and cooking in the "villa." :)


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