It’s easy to buy good hummus. It’s also easy to make great hummus.
When I was in San Francisco last month, I stopped by Trader Joe’s to pick up some snacks and came across their eggplant hummus, which I hadn’t seen before. I decided to buy it instead of my favorite three-layer hummus since I was only going to be in town for three days and didn’t think I’d get through the larger container. It was like a cross between hummus and baba ganoush, with the smokiness of the roasted eggplant giving extra depth to basic hummus seasoned with lemon, tahini, and garlic. It was the perfect afternoon snack with some tabouli and plantain chips.
After getting back, I confirmed that it wasn’t available at either D.C. location and resolved to make my own. The eggplant makes the hummus a bit lighter than normal, but otherwise it relies on the traditional cast of characters. They’re easy to find — even the tiny Safeway by my house carries tahini paste — and inexpensive. Using canned chickpeas means the eggplant is the only ingredient that needs any prep before being thrown into a food processor or blender.
It’s best to wait at least an hour after blending to serve the hummus so the flavors have time to meld. I prefer it at cool room temperature, not straight from the refrigerator. Then a drizzle of olive oil and some warm pita is all you need, though it would be equally at home on falafel or as part of a larger spread.