Homemade Hummus and Avocado-Bean Dip

Playoffs are here and it’s almost time for the superbowl, and for casual fans like me, that only means one thing: SNACKS. Unfortunately, at many gatherings these are store-bought, and that usually guarantees that you have no idea what some of the 20+ ingredients are, and whether or not these mystery concoctions are good for you. Knowledge is power, and the only way to ensure you know what’s in that dip is to make the dang thing yourself. Since I know a good number of people are trying their best to stick to diet-related New Years resolutions, I figured I’d steer toward the healthy end of our options. Here’s to staying on the wagon!

Hummus:
1 1/2 cups. garbanzo beans (one 15 oz. can)
1/2 cup. tahini
3 cloves. garlic, minced
juice of 1 lemon
4 tbsp. plain Greek yogurt (unnecessary if you have a food processor)
1/4 cup. olive oil
1 tsp. sesame oil
1/2 tsp. hot paprika
salt & black pepper to taste

Begin by draining and rinsing the garbanzo beans in cold water, and leave them to finish drying off in the strainer. Peel the garlic cloves and score them lengthwise, then chop them widthwise as finely as possible. Once the garlic is in fairly small bits, add a touch of salt and mix it in (do a little more chopping), then make a little pile of the garlic and begin mincing by pressing down into the pile with the back of your knife, and dragging the knife outward. Have a look-see:
Do so until it reaches this consistency, where the tiny pieces tend to clump together like a paste:Once the garlic is set aside in a large bowl, measure out the olive oil and pour it into a warm pan on low heat. When the oil is heated, add the garbanzos and paprika, and stir it around. This step is not altogether necessary, but I find the garbanzos are easier to smash by hand when they’ve warmed up for a few minutes, and they help the other ingredients break down, as well. If you have a food processor–lucky you–you can skip this part.

After 5 minutes on low heat, the beans should be just warm enough and the oil should have absorbed all that paprika-goodness. Turn off the pan and pour the beans and any excess oil into to the bowl with the garlic. Then add the tahini, lemon juice, salt and black pepper.
Get to mashing! Because this poor, unfortunate soul doesn’t have a food processor, I like to mix everything together with a large spoon, then alternate mashing with a large spoon and a fork until I get the consistency that I want.
Now add the yogurt (it helps to more closely achieve that smooth consistency that (unless you are willing to break your arm) only a food processor can create. Mix it in and move on to the spoon!
Keep mixing and mashing until you’ve almost given up, then give it a taste and a dip test to see that the hummus can hold together enough to stay perched on a carrot or chip. Mash some more and/or add seasoning depending on your results.

Rest that arm for a minute, because it’s time for round 2:

Avocado-Bean dip:
1 1/2 cups. black or pinto beans (shown are pinto beans, but I tried it with black beans, which I much preferred. They have a slightly higher fat content and thus add a nice richness to the dip.)
2 ripe avocados
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
juice of 1 lime
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
cilantro, coarsely chopped (optional)
salt & black pepper to taste

Again, the first thing you should do is drain and rinse the black beans. While they’re drying off, chop the garlic in the same manner as you did for the hummus, but skip the final step of mincing with salt. Put the garlic in a large bowl and get cracking on your avocados. I like to do this in 4 steps.
Step 1: Stick the wide part of the blade through the skin of the avocado, until you reach the pit.
Step 2: Swing the blade around the avocado pit, always staying in contact with it.
woosh!
Step 3: Once you’ve made your way all the way around the avocado, simply twist it open like an oreo.
And voila! A (not actually that) ripe avocado!
Step 4: Place a thick towel over your hand and put the pit-half inside. Holding your blade sturdily (higher up the handle helps) and from a short distance, strike the avocado pit firmly with the middle of the blade. No kamikaze swings, PLEASE.
Twist your knife and the pit should come right out! Use your toweled hand to remove the pit from the knife blade.
Score the avocados from the inside, using a duller knife so that you don’t break the skin (of the avocado, and of your hand… totally not speaking from experience…). Score perpendicularly to get the chunks as small as possible.
Now all you have to do is scoop the avocado out with a spoon, and you won’t be wasting all the avocado you would if it was sliding around on the cutting board. Put the avo-meat in the bowl with the garlic, and add the black beans, lime juice, cumin, cayenne pepper, black pepper and salt. Start your mashing-muscles and work on the mixture with the fork/spook alternation until you reach the desired consistency.
Once it looks right, give it a taste test and adjust the seasoning accordingly.
Serve with veggies or chips, and get ready to do a touchdown dance when your guests swoon. I spin the ball on one of its tips, then dance around, shooting it with my hand pistols. It’s probably the coolest touchdown dance ever.

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