Hummus is one of those things that is subject to many interpretations - and many levels of quality. Made of chickpea (garbanzo) paste and tahini, it's usually flavored with olive oil and a dash of lemon-juice, though more interesting flavor combinations crop up with wonderful regularity. I've tried it all, from powdered gunk served on a canoe trip to home-made emulsions of deliciousness served up at family restaurants, and it's quickly become one of my favorites. I eat it for the vast majority of my lunches these days, as it provides a sharp kick of veggie protein with a creamy and rich consistency and after-taste. In short, it's one of the miracles of the culinary world and I suggest you try it, especially with some pita chips and a fresh cucumber salad. Yum.
But ah, you say - what brand? Which tastes like ass? Which is full of the promising and seductive taste of the Mysterious East?!?
The first brand I'm going to discuss is Sabra Roasted Red Pepper Hummus. (Photo courtesy of Amazon, since I already messily devoured the package in my fridge.)
My first impression is that it's got an addictive and slightly olive-oily after taste. The red-pepper flavoring is intense and very pleasurable if you're a roasted red pepper whore like me, with a nice scoop of apparently canned pepper in the middle of the container. There's soft red pepper flakes mixed within the hummus itself, which provides a nice, if occasionally chewy texture counterpoint to the creaminess of the hummus itself.
However, it sure as hell isn't all natural. The ingredients list features such exciting taste treats as soy bean oil, corn starch and sodium benzoate, which although regular features in most foods sold today, aren't ingredients that are going to make the crunchy-granola crowd swoon with delight. Nutritionally, it ain't gonna kill ya, as is the case with all hummuses - a 1oz serving features 70 calories and five grams of fat.
This be a good hummus, especially with the interesting and well-conceived addition of red pepper, although the flakes could be incorporated in a slightly more graceful and less chewy manner. The only other downside to this product is it's cost - 5 bucks for a 10 oz container. The question to ask yourself, then, is this: how much do you really enjoy pulverized chickpeas?
Reviews of Mazra and Tribe hummus coming soon.