‘Garlic is divine. Few food items can taste so many distinct ways, handled correctly. Misuse of garlic is a crime. Old garlic, burnt garlic, garlic cut too long ago and garlic that has been tragically smashed through one of those abominations – the garlic press – are all disgusting. Please treat your garlic with respect. Sliver it for pasta, like you saw in Goodfellas; don’t burn it. Smash it, with the flat of your knife blade if you like, but don’t put it through a press. I don’t know what that junk is that squeezes out the end of those things, but it ain’t garlic. And try roasting garlic. It gets mellower and sweeter if you roast it whole, still on the clove, to be squeezed out later when it’s soft and brown’ – Anthony Bourdain. Indeed, drizzling whole bulbs of garlic with olive oil and a scattering of briny sea salt before slow roasting them in the oven delivers a deeply sweet-savoury flavour and a silky texture that provides a very different dimension to a classic hummus. I first tried it one lazy Saturday afternoon – served warm – in a tiny hummusia (hummus shop) in the funky Florentin district of Tel Aviv where it was served up alongside crispy spicy falafel drizzled with tahini and lemon sauce, thick slices of hardboiled egg, a plate of punchy pickles, fluffy stacks of freshly baked pitta and an ice-cold beer. I sat there for hours, reading the papers, just watching the world walk on by as if I had no cares at all.
2 large heads of garlic
Extra virgin olive oil
For the hummus:
x2 400g tin chickpeas, drained
1-2 tbsp light tahini
1-2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Juice of 1-2 lemons
Generous pinch of cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to your taste
How I make it
Heat an oven to 200C.
Peel off the loose papery layers of skin off the garlic bulbs and trim the tops so that each clove of garlic exposed but the bulbs remain very much intact. Place each bulb on a square of tin foil. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Close up the foil to form a loose parcel and place in the oven. Roast for 40 minutes. Remove, carefully open up the foil and set aside. When cool, remove the soft centres from each clove and roughly mash to a paste.
Place the chickpeas, the garlic paste, 1 tbsp tahini, the olive oil, the juice of one lemon, the cumin and the oregano in a food processor and blend, slowly adding warm water until you achieve your preferred consistency. Then – and this is the tricky part – adjust to taste adding more tahini and lemon juice until you achieve the balance that you like. Season.
Turn the hummus into a beautiful bowl, drizzle with olive oil and garnish with chopped parsley and chilli flakes. Here, I’ve topped it with my classic Greek salad.