A $5 Dinner from the Corner Bodega [Homemade Hummus with Homemade Pita]

There are moments when I don’t want to plan a dinner, but I don’t want to order in either. In those moments, I think about quick solutions: what if I buy some bread and make an egg salad sandwich? Why don’t I heat up leftover French onion soup? Or–in recent days–why not make some polenta?

Tonight, coming back from a day in the city, I craved hummus. Not the kind you buy already made, I wanted to make it myself. I also wanted homemade pita bread. Every time I have hot, homemade pita bread (like the kind you get at Snack Taverna, for example) it’s so much better than dried-out packaged pita bread, I vow to make my own from now on. But I never do. I tried it once with whole wheat flour and didn’t love it. Tonight, though, would be different. Before getting to my apartment, I popped into the corner bodega (Craig calls it that, I used to just call it “the corner store”) and bought the following:

– a can of chickpeas

– packets of yeast (yes, they have dried yeast at our corner bodega)

– a lemon

That was it. I had garlic and olive oil at home and flour too and that’s all I’d need. The grand total? A little more than $5. Not bad for a Sunday night dinner.

The rest was a matter of minutes. For the pita, this time I used a more basic recipe I found online. You can read it here and it worked really well. The pita dough was a bit sticky (partially my fault since I haphazardly drizzled some honey into it, thinking it would sweeten it and feed the yeast, though I don’t think it did anything). I overcame the stickiness by adding lots of flour and kneading on a highly floured board. Here’s what the pita looked like when it came out of the oven:


As for the hummus, I made a terrible discovery when I went to make The Barefoot Contessa’s recipe: I had no Tahini. D’oh! Of course! Hummus has tahini!

But then I went online and searched “hummus without tahini” and learned that you can, indeed, make hummus without tahini: just pulverize all the same ingredients without tahini. That’s it. And guess what? It tasted just as good if not better.

Here’s what I pulverized:

– a can of drained chickpeas (liquid reserved)

– the juice of one lemon

– two cloves of garlic chopped up

– salt

– pepper

– red pepper flakes

– olive oil

Those ingredients should be adjusted as you blend. So you blitz it all in the food processor, take a taste, see what it needs, add that ingredient and blitz again. You can’t overblitz your hummus: so if you want it more garlicky, add more garlic. If you want it more lemony, add more lemon. The secret is to use the reserved chickpea liquid to make it creamier: so if your hummus is lumpy, add more of the chickpea water (or just regular water) and it’ll thin out and get creamier and better.

Here’s what it looked like when I was done:


Not bad, huh? A little olive oil on top and a dusting of paprika, and that’s a pretty impressive show for a little more than $5 and just a little bit of labor. This is the kind of dinner that you should have in your arsenal when someone says, “Cooking at home is too expensive and it takes too much time.”

And granted this dinner would’ve been healthier and more substantial with a salad, if you read the post below this you’ll understand my reasons. Chickpeas have more protein than bugs, don’t they?

25 thoughts on “A $5 Dinner from the Corner Bodega [Homemade Hummus with Homemade Pita]”

  1. Mmm. If you want to get creative with hummus, I think the Moosewood Cookbook has a recipe for black bean hummus. It comes out a rather odd shade of purple, but it’s delicious.

  2. Bravo to you for not just grabbing some take out. Quick foods made at home are always better. You learned something and also saved a lot of money.

  3. That looks like a great cheap, fast meal! I am a big fan of those sorts of meals (and pulverizing things in food processors), and I do in fact have everything needed to copy this, except for a lemon, which being in Arizona, I can steal from someone’s yard. Nice, thanks!

  4. I’ll give you a big secret: put some cream cheese into it and mix (about a tsp), it really makes the difference.

    Try and tell me then!

  5. I was amazed at how much better hummus can be when you use dried chickpeas, soak them overnight (don’t forget to add a teaspoon of baking soda)and cook for about 20 minutes. The contrast in taste and texture is quite amazing. If you have the time, next time you make it, try using dried.

  6. That’s the only way I’ll eat hummus – sans tahini, as I can’t stand the bitter taste it leaves. I love making my own, it’s just so easy.

  7. I’m all for the no-tahini improv! I had a hummus craving a while back and boom no garbanzo’s! I used cannelini beans instead and oh man. So creamy, so good. I’ve never tried homemade pita though…. I’ve gotta get on that.

  8. The texture you’ll get with the dried beans is far superior to that of canned. The “bean liquid” will also be much better than that stuff in the can.

    We cook batches of dried beans almost ever week, and usually have a container of them in the freezer, which makes it very easy to whip up some hummous.

    The key to really good hummous is not using too much tahini. Much lighter consistency.

    Recently when we found we were out of tahini, we used sunflower seeds. But, I imagine one could use any other kind of nut.

    I keep writing “we,” but my husband is the one who makes the most amazing hummous I’ve ever had anywhere. It is lemony and light, topped with some olive oil and sprinkled with cayenne pepper.

  9. Bravo to you for not just grabbing some take out. Quick foods made at home are always better. You learned something and also saved a lot of money.

  10. Huh…I make hummus with tahini, and lots of it. I usually

    use almost equal portions of tahini to chickpeas. Shocking,

    I know, but I love it that way. Then because there will be

    enough oil from the tahini (I get the super runny kind), I only

    add a smidge of olive oil and use water instead, to get a

    rich creamy spread. When I put it in the serving bowl, I put

    a nice splash of olive oil on top and sprinkle with smoked

    paprika and pistachio’s if I have them. YUM!

    I may try to perfect the tahini-free version, now though, I am inspired to try to get it to taste creamy and light, as elmake describes her husband’s version. Thanks!

  11. I make homemade hummus sans tahini all the time, but I’ve never even thought to try my hand at homemade pita. I have a weekend project now!

  12. My Jordanian adopted Mama, insists that to make hummus creamy and delicious…you must pour in a couple of tablespoons of melted butter in place of the olive oil. I usually make it sans tahini and the butter garlic lemon combination really takes chick peas over the top. A drizzle of good quality olive oil for presentation..and this is a hummus that anti hummus people love. I caught a guest at a party once eating it with a spoon.

  13. That is a snack. My stomach would complain if I only offered it hummus and two pieces of pita for dinner. But I guess I am fat.

  14. another great no-tahini trick i’ve used in the past is to add a few drops of sesame oil (which i usually have on hand anyway) while blending – it gives a smidge of that sesame flavor without much effort.


  15. I never have tahini, too expensive..I use a tsp of sesame seeds, adds the flavor, without the bitterness.(:

  16. To replace tahini I sometimes use a roasted seasme paste I get in Asian markets. It’s a different taste but nice.

    For those who have tahini around a tarator sauce is nice for chicken or fish. Tahini, garlic, lemon juice, salt, white pepper and water. Blend till a mayo consistency.

  17. I’ve had a can of chickpeas in the pantry all year, thinking I should do something with them eventually. I read this recipe and thought, hey! I can do that this evening!

    Like another commenter above, I thought to myself a little sesame oil would sub well. I was less successful thinking lemon oil would do in place of the lemon I didn’t have. I chucked in a capful and a h alf and it came out a little on the lemony side, but I’ve pretty much dumbed that effect down with more olive oil.

  18. I respect your approach with such bare essentials and fresh ingredients but frankly I think you are missing the important ingredient of tahini sauce something that will greatly improve texture and consistency in your hummus. The best hummus, and tabouleh for that matter, in the world hails from a little place in detroit called Steves Backroom. http://www.detnews.com/2005/business/0510/04/C02-336627.html

    It is extremely fresh.

  19. Here is something to try- roast the chickpeas for just a little bit before killing them in the food processor. Gives it a nice nutty aroma!

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