June 5, 2013 (CBS News) Hummus, a staple of Middle Eastern diets for centuries, is exploding in popularity across the U.S., prompting an uptick in chickpea crops, primarily in the Pacific Northwest. Last year, the U.S. harvest of chickpeas, the primary ingredient in hummus, was up 51 percent from the previous year.
Ronen Zohar, the CEO of Sabra, the lead hummus producer in the U.S., hopes to expand chickpea farming to tobacco country — namely, Virginia — to meet growing demand.
“We want to make sure we have enough chickpeas,” Zohar told CBS News’ Chip Reid, “And we want to reduce the risk we have now by growing chickpeas only in one part of the country.”
Sabra CEO Zohar believes encouraging Virginia-based farmers to grow chickpeas is “wonderful solution” to address both the decreasing demand for tobacco and increased demand for hummus.
But where did hummus (Arabic for chickpea) originate? The debate over the origin of hummus is centuries old. The Greeks, Arabs and Israelis all claim to have originated the now “modern” spread. According to historical information, hummus likely originated in ancient Egypt in the 13th century.
Hummus is a Levantine Arab dip or spread that is made from the fiber rich legume chickpeas (also known as garbanzo beans) that have been cooked and mashed, then blended with tahini (a paste made from sesame seeds), olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and salt.
Hummus is popular in vegan, vegetarian and non-vegetarian diets due to its complete protein properties. It is also high in iron and vitamin C. Olive oil is an added fat in the preparation of hummus. Olive oil is a healthy fat that is rich in monounsaturated fatty acids which are heart healthy.
You can purchase pre-made hummus in most grocery stores or you can easy make your own as well. Below is a simple recipe for “original” hummus. Once you find out how easy it is to make, we have included some additional recipes to add to your hummus repertoire!
1 (15 ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained, liquid reserved
2 ounces fresh jalapeno pepper, sliced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 cloves garlic, mincedIn a blender or food processor, combine garbanzo beans, jalapeno, cumin, lemon juice, garlic, and 1 tablespoon of the reserved bean liquid. Blend until smooth. If you prefer a smoother dip, add more of the reserved bean liquid.