For some reason, I seem to be on a Middle Eastern food kick again. Lately my cravings have led me to enjoy a steady diet of authentic Lebanese, Syrian and Turkish cuisines with a little Moroccan mixed in just for fun.

Not to jump on a soapbox but … authentic means utilizing the flavor profiles typical of a certain region. It does not, and I repeat does not mean you have to use products produced in that region for that item to be authentic. Authentic simply means to attain a sense of place.

The point of my rant? You don’t have to import exotic ingredients to make delectable, authentic Middle Eastern treats. A couple of weeks ago, I
generously gave y’all an outstanding recipe for muhamara, the stunning Syrian red pepper and walnut spread. If you haven’t tried it yet, you’re really missing out. And I’m sure I’ve also given up a lavosh recipe as well. But today I want to expound on the virtues of hummus. Yes, authentic hummus.

Ahhh, hummus … just the thought of it makes me salivate, and fills my food-obsessed mind with visions of all of the wonderful versions of this smooth, rich, creamy, nutty, fruity nectar of the gods I have joyfully devoured over the years.

Hummus is a chickpea-based spread found throughout the Levant. In its most nascent state, it is simply chickpeas, tahini and olive oil. Any respectable cook could knock out a version at this most basic level, but for something truly special, a couple of simple steps are essential. As any good Middle Eastern chef would tell you, the very best versions of hummus begin with dried chickpeas, which are soaked overnight and then slow-simmered.
That’s a time investment most of y’all probably aren’t willing to make; fortunately, there’s an easy alternative: canned precooked chickpeas.

When using canned chickpeas, several important steps must be taken to reach your goal of a delicious, velvety-textured hummus. First, drain and thoroughly wash the chickpeas. Have you ever noticed that canned foods taste like can? Washing off the goo they’re packed in gets rid of that tinge of can flavor. Next, you must exercise a little discipline and peel off all the skins from the chickpeas. It takes time, yet it elevates a course-textured shoemaker version of hummus to a Cheffed-Up silky variant worthy of high praise. After that, just follow my authentic version here.


  • One 16-oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 3 tbsp. tahini paste
  • 1 head garlic, roasted
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 2 lemons, zested and juiced
  • 2 oz. olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. chopped herbs
  • Salt and cayenne pepper to taste
  • Water and smoked paprika as needed


  1. Place the chickpeas in a blender, begin to process. Add tahini and lemon juice, blend. Add half the olive oil, then the water as needed to reach a smooth consistency.
  2. Add garlic, cumin, salt and cayenne. Blend, adjust seasoning to taste.
  3. Place in a bowl and garnish with olive oil, herbs and paprika.

Until we cook again,

Contact Chef Bill Thompson, owner of The Amelia Island Culinary Academy, at [email protected] to find inspiration and get you Cheffed Up!