One way to plant a garden is let the ingredients of the recipes you make most often be your guide. If you do a lot of pizza on the grill in the summer, a garden designed for pizza making makes sense. If you love fresh salsa, grow a salsa garden.
What if you make a lot of hummus, the popular dip and sandwich spread? Can you plant a hummus garden? Sure you can. The casual backyard gardener doesn’t usually plant chickpeas, but almost anyone can grow these legumes in a backyard garden. (And even the other name for chickpeas is garbonzo beans, they aren't beans.)
What about the sesame seeds for the tahini? It’s possible to grow them if you live in a climate with a long, hot summer. Most of the sesame seed grown in the U.S. for commercial purposes is grown in Texas. If you don’t live in the right climate, this might be one ingredient you need to purchase, but if you’re an adventurous gardener, give a try.
Besides chickpeas and sesame seeds, what else would be beneficial to grow in a hummus garden?
Garlic – Most hummus recipes call for some garlic. Garlic needs to be planted in the fall, so for this year’s hummus making, you’ll have to purchase it from the farmers market or store. But, if you end up making good use of the rest of your hummus ingredients from the garden this year, plan ahead to plant garlic in the fall. You’ll use it for so much more than just hummus.
Lemons – If you live in a climate where you can grow citrus, consider growing lemons. Like the garlic, you’ll find many uses for the lemons you produce.
Red bell peppers – Adding roasted red bell peppers to hummus gives it wonderful flavor. My Roasted Red Pepper Hummus is the one my friends ask me to make the most often. (FYI – I’ve started using smoked paprika instead of regular paprika in it – fabulous!)
Onions – Caramelized onions (done in the slow cooker for ease) are a great ingredient for hummus. I add them in with black garlic, but roasted garlic could be substituted in my Black Garlic Caramelized Onion Hummus.
Beets – I have been trying to appreciate the beet lately. Maybe I should try this Roasted Red Beet Hummus that MNN contributor Jerry James Stone created.
Pumpkins – Yes, pumpkins — for this Pumpkin Rosemary Hummus.
Rosemary – You’ll need it for the Pumpkin Rosemary Hummus.
Grape tomatoes – Oven-dried Grape Tomato and Basil Hummus was one of my hummus experiments that turned out very nicely a couple of years ago.
Basil – If you’re going to grow anything, for any reason, basil is one of the first things I recommend. It's easy to grow, and fresh basil beats dried hands down. And, you’ll use it in so many summer recipes, including the Oven-dried Grape Tomato and Basil Hummus mentioned above.
The basics of hummus are usually chickpeas, tahini, garlic lemon, olive oil and salt, but as you can see there are many, many varieties. Try roasting vegetables like carrots or eggplant or experiment with fruit like strawberries in your hummus.
It seems like your hummus garden could get incredibly large considering all of the variations on the crowd-pleasing dip. Perhaps you need to work backward on this one. Pick one or two recipes first that you think you’ll enjoy making over and over this season, and grow the ingredients for them.