To say hummus is a staple in our house is a gross understatement. There is always a tub of homemade hummus in our refrigerator, along with the prerequisite jar of tahini and dried chickpeas in the cupboard (as well as a few cans of chickpeas for when time is of the essence).

That’s certainly not to say it’s the same hummus every time. Sometimes it’s brightened with lemon or lime juice, sometimes red vinegar and the house favorite is a spiced up version with Frank’s buffalo hot sauce, sriracha or sambal ooelek. Other times it’s complemented by bits of smoky grilled vegetables or briny olives, fresh cilantro or parsley and often there’s a liberal seasoning of zaa’tar and sumac.

Its versatility doesn’t end with the ingredients either; it can be served in the familiar style as a dip with crunchy vegetables and warm pita, but goes even further around here as a hearty sandwich filling, spread on garlic-rubbed toasts or even thinned with chicken stock and a dab of butter to be tossed with hot pasta for a quick weeknight meal.

When a last minute BBQ invite arrives, there’s nothing easier to throw together than hummus. Super quick to blitz up and best of all, the ingredients are inexpensive pantry staples. Rich and satisfying, creamy without being cloying, it is always a crowd favorite.

The foundation of classic hummus, chickpeas, aren’t even obligatory. Take this lightened up version, perfect for a summer evening meze on the porch. Roasted cauliflower forms the base, along with blistered jalapenos, a heady dose of garlic, splash of lime juice, pinch of cumin and generous dollop of tahini. Because temps in Seattle seldom go above 80, even in the summer, roasting is a viable cooking option but others might prefer to grill their veggies outside.

Like many seasoned cooks before me have figured out, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel, only to figure out how to switch things up enough to keep everyone coming back for more.

Roasted Cauliflower & Jalapeno Hummus

Makes 3 cups


1 head cauliflower (454 grams), cut into florets

4 jalapenos (50 grams), whole

1 tablespoon (14 grams) olive oil, plus extra for serving

1 teaspoon (6 grams) salt

½ teaspoon (1 gram) ground cumin

1 pinch cayenne pepper

5 cloves (15 grams) garlic

½ cup (120 grams) tahini

1/3 cup (80 grams) lime juice

Sumac, optional

Sesame seeds (black or white), optional

Chopped parsley, optional

Roast the vegetables. Preheat the oven to 450⁰F. Toss the cauliflower and jalapenos with the olive oil, salt, cumin and cayenne pepper on a baking sheet and roast for 25-30 minutes, until thoroughly browned. Set aside to cool, then cut off the jalapeno stems, cut in half and scrape out the seeds and membranes.

Puree the hummus. Pulse the garlic cloves by themselves in food processor until finely minced. Add the cauliflower, jalapenos, tahini and lime juice and puree for 2 minutes, until completely smooth. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary. Serve on a platter with sumac, sesame seeds, parsley and a drizzle of olive oil, if desired. Keeps refrigerated for 1 week in an airtight container.