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Hummus With Preserved Lemons

June 02, 2021
Photo: ShutterstockPhoto: Shutterstock

In the 1960s and early 1970s when Americans were traveling abroad, they often came back with the taste of garlicky hummus on their breath. The mixture of chickpeas and tahini, or sesame seed paste, was delicious, it was exotic, and later, with the advent of the food processor, it was easy to prepare. When I lived in Jerusalem in the early 1970s, I fell in love twice—first with the man who would become my husband, and second, with hummus. When I got married in 1974, I requested hummus at my wedding and gave the caterer a recipe for the dip. One person who had never tasted this before thought my recipe—with its hint of that exotic spice, cumin—was so good I could sell it to Zabar’s. I didn’t heed the call but others did, and today hummus is marketed around the world.

Featured in: Dip of Nations


For the Hummus With Preserved Lemons

  • 1cup dried chickpeas
  • 1cup tahina
  • 1preserved lemon
  • ¼cup lemon juice, or to taste, including
  • 2cloves garlic, or to taste
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin, or to taste
  • 3tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2tablespoons pine nuts
  • Dash paprika or sumac
  • 2tablespoons chopped fresh parsley or cilantro
  • 1teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste

For the Preserved Lemons

  • 8lemons, about 1 ½ pounds
  • ½cup coarse kosher salt (about)
  • 1cup fresh lemon juice, plus more if necessary
  • 2tablespoons olive oil
Yield: About 4 cups, or 6 to 8 servings


To make the Hummus With Preserved Lemons

  • Step 1

    Put the raw chickpeas in a bowl with cold water to cover and soak overnight.

  • Step 2

    Drain and rinse the chickpeas, then place them in a heavy pot with enough cold water to cover. Bring to a boil, skim off the scum that accumulates, then simmer, partially covered, for about an hour or until the chickpeas are soft and the skin begins to separate, adding more water if needed.

  • Step 3

    Drain the chickpeas, reserving about 1 ½ cups of the cooking liquid. Set aside ¼ cup of the cooked chickpeas for garnish. In a food processor fitted with a steel blade, process the remaining chickpeas with the tahina, preserved lemon, lemon juice, garlic, salt, pepper, cumin, and at least ½ cup of the reserved cooking liquid. If the hummus is too thick, add more reserved cooking liquid or water until you have a paste-like consistency.

  • Step 4

    Heat a frying pan and add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Spread the pine nuts in the pan and stir-fry, browning on all sides.

  • Step 5

    To serve, transfer the hummus to a large, flat plate, and with the back of a spoon make a slight depression in the center. Drizzle the remaining olive oil and sprinkle the reserved chickpeas, pine nuts, paprika or sumac, and parsley or cilantro over the surface.

  • Step 6

    Serve with cut-up raw vegetables and warm pita cut into wedges.

  • You can also add cayenne pepper to the hummus. Sometimes leftover hummus tends to thicken; just add some water to make it the right consistency.

To make the Preserved Lemons

  • Step 1

    Cut off the ends of each lemon. Cut each one lengthwise into quarters, cutting to but not through the opposite end. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of salt into the cut sides of each lemon.

  • Step 2

    Put the lemons in a large jar (it’s fine if you have to squeeze them in; they will shrink), and cover completely with lemon juice, using a heavy stone to keep them down. Let sit for a day.

  • Step 3

    The next day, weigh the lemons down with a stone or, if not covered with lemon juice, seal them with a thin film of olive oil over the lemons. Put the jar in the refrigerator and allow to cure for 2 to 3 weeks. Before using, scrape off the pulp if desired.

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