I discovered Ed Winslow’s blog, Mid Law and Divers Items, last August when his daughter, Margaret, shared his post with me about a breakthrough in homemade hummus making. The blog post was sandwiched between entries on 21st Century Skill Sets and Benchmarks of 19th Century African American Attorneys. It shortly summarized a tip about microwaving chickpeas before processing in order to break down starchy crystals for smoother hummus consistency. He concluded the post stating that “This discovery is thought by some to explain the presence of certain microwave-like structures found at archaeological sites throughout the Middle East.”
The post piqued my interest. A well-respected attorney, civic leader and veteran is blogging about law and hummus in Greensboro? Go figure. Naturally, I set up a time to meet with him and get a better understanding of his interest and history with hummus.
Over a bowl of warm family-farm grown peanuts from Edgecombe County, I chatted with Winslow. While he comes across stern in person, he is just as humorous and witty as his writing.
Winslow’s first memory of hummus is somewhere between the Mediterranean and North Africa around 1966 when he was studying “everything other than growing up in Eastern North Carolina” in the South of France. Years later he began making homemade hummus after reading a recipe in Cooks Illustrated Magazine on restaurant quality hummus. And today, he is a proud owner of his second 40 pound bucket of tahini – the sesame paste that is an essential ingredient in hummus. He makes that much hummus!
I asked, “but why?” He gave me a deposition on the essentials.
“Hummus goes back 3,000 years and is contemporary only because of food processors. Hummus is a great equalizer in the world of cuisine. A child of the Middle East but speaks to all people. Hummus is a metaphor for the universality of the truth. And the next great leap forward is understanding the possibilities of tahini…”
“Tahini is a collaborative ingredient. It has its own voice yet joins in creating harmony with its fellows.”
Winslow purchases his tahini in bulk from Annah Awartani, the owner of Zaytoon Restaurant in Downtown Greensboro. Tahini should be stored in a cool dark space and has an extremely long shelf life. He credits Zaytoon for the best restaurant hummus in Greensboro.
“Chickpeas are the most popular legume in the world. High in protein and fiber. Low in calories and inexpensive. They rival sardines and bananas as the world’s wonder food.
Chickpeas don’t get the respect of bananas…but are higher in social status than sardines.”
“The key to great hummus is controlling the amount of lemon juice. The right amount of lemon juice is problematic; I do not like too much, but there must be enough.”
“Pine nuts are the champagne of nuts.” Slivered almonds or pine nuts are a great garnish. Also parsley. Drizzle oil on top and add paprika or cayenne.
Nazareth Bread Company makes great whole wheat pita and Turkish flatbread.”
When concluding my chat with Winslow I asked if he had a closing statement on hummus. He replied, “We need a good pun on hummus. Come back during pesto season.“
Winslow’s Straight Ahead hummus recipe has been public since he prepared it for the Canterbury Teachers Picnic years ago and they demanded the recipe.
Ed Winslow’s Straight Ahead Hummus
- 1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed – reserve 2 tablespoons chickpeas
- 1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped roughly
- ¼ teaspoon, salt
- ½ teaspoon, cumin
- 6 tablespoons, tahini
- 2 or 3 tablespoons, olive oil
- 1 or 2 lemons, juiced
- Cayenne, to taste
- Slivered almonds (if desired)
- Microwave chickpeas for 5 minutes to breakdown starches.
- Process chickpeas (except reserved ones) & garlic, pretty thoroughly in a food processor, push down sides.
- Add salt, cumin, dash cayenne & process
- Combine juice of 1 or 2 lemons with hot water.
- Combine about 6 TBS tahini with about 2 TBS olive oil, whisk to smooth consistency.
- Drizzle lemon juice & water through tube into running food processor and combine thoroughly
- Repeat with tahini/oil mixture
- Add water as desired to achieve consistency desired; add water/juice/oil if needed for taste; more water makes it more creamy; keep trying more and more water until you see what you prefer.
- Toast almonds
- Put hummus in bowl; sprinkle on top reserved chickpeas, almonds, some olive oil, some cayenne