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Hummus
We're crazy about this Middle Eastern chickpea-and-sesame-paste puree;

Ingredients:
1 3/4 cups dried chickpeas, soaked overnight
2 garlic cloves, minced to a paste
1/4 cup tahini paste
1/3 cup lemon juice
salt and white pepper to taste
olive oil for drizzling
paprika and ground cumin (optional)
Arabic bread, such as pita, as an accompaniment

Directions:
1. Drain the soaked chickpeas. Cover them with water and simmer until quite soft, about 1 1/2hours. Drain chickpeas, reserving a little of the cooking water.
2. Pass chickpeas through the fine blade of a food mill. Mix chickpea puree with garlic paste, tahini paste, lemon juice, and about 1/4 cup of the cooking water. The goal is a medium-thick spread. Season to taste with salt and white pepper. Serve on a platter, drizzled with olive oil. (you may also sprinkle paprika and/or ground cumin on the hummus.) Serve with slices of Arabic bread, like pita, to scoop up the hummus.

We're crazy about this Middle Eastern chickpea-and-sesame-paste puree; served cold with pita, olives, and raw vegetables, it makes a great start to a festive dinner party. In this dish, the best texture of all is obtained by passing the cooked chickpeas through a food mill; other devices-like a food processor-are acceptable, but inferior. The following version is lighter than most, because it doesn't contain oil (but you may drizzle the finished dish with olive oil). Serves 4 as a first course