HummusCOLOR450My story for this week is one of passion and betrayal, of the smooth, rich and popular getting ousted by a rough, rustic competitor.

As you may have guessed, this is a story about hummus.

Until now, I’ve been a devoted—even smitten—admirer of Sabra hummus. It’s the richest, creamiest, smoothest, and most balanced of the store-bought brands, plus it has all those sexy mix-ins like pesto, roasted garlic, and toasted pine nuts. Not to mention they sell it by the truckload at Costco—and when you like hummus as much as I do, truckload is definitely the quantity we’re talking about. (Don’t worry; I know it’s not actually good for you.)

I eat hummus on every raw vegetable you can imagine, and on crackers, chips, and pretzels, and I spread it on sandwiches (because mayo freaks me out). Hell, I’ve been known to eat it right off a spoon.

I was in a happy, committed relationship with Sabra until one day when Tony made a rogue suggestion. “Let’s just make our own hummus,” he ventured, “the way you eat that stuff, it’d be so much cheaper!” So, we cooked some dried chickpeas and whirled them in the food processor with garlic, cumin, cayenne, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper.

Oh. My. God. “Good” just doesn’t describe it. I felt like I was cheating on my solid store-bought life-partner. All the things I thought I liked about hummus were all wrong now. This had a rustic, rougher texture, it wasn’t creamy so much as tangy and spicy and complex. And it cost a sum total of $1.50.

I tried the sad, neglected Sabra in my fridge a few days later and it’s creaminess tasted fake, it’s smooth texture seemed unnatural, and it lacked the spice and acid of the homemade stuff, and the mix-ins seemed cheap and gaudy like heavy make-up under fluorescent light.

This is now our go-to appetizer, and we’ve gone a bit wild with it. It works with canned beans or cooked dried ones. We’ve made it with chickpeas and cumin, red beans and smoked paprika, white beans and rosemary, and I am eager to try others. You can use any bean and any herbs or spices. I plan to experiment with different oils and acids—different vinegars and citrus juices.

And now that I know I can put my food processor in the dishwasher (thank you, Tony!), there is absolutely no reason not to make the homemade stuff.

Seriously, try this at your own risk. Once you’ve made homemade hummus (or bean dip), there is no going back. You can try, but you’ll wind up sobbing into your Sabra.