Mark Bittman Recipe: Hummus with Pita and Greens

Photo: Marju Randmer, Flickr Creative Commons

For a twist on our meatless-recipe series, here’s one that’s not necessarily a meal—though some might beg to differ on that—but rather a snack starring the delicious legume that is the chickpea. It’s courtesy of Mark Bittman, from his book Food Matters. The New York Times has also featured the chickpea, providing many ways to use this tasty morsel. If you haven’t already, check out Bittman’s dining philosophy in Audubon’s special food issue.

Hummus with Pita and Greens

Makes 4 servings
Time: About 25 minutes with cooked chickpeas

This is more salad than sandwich. I make this open-faced, with the crunchy pita and spread nestled under a pile of greens. But you can easily deconstruct the dish and serve the pita (toasted or not) alongside for scooping up the hummus. Or if you have pocket pitas, smear the insides with the hummus and fill with the stuffed greens for a more portable lunch. (To make just the hummus, follow Step 2.)

4 whole wheat pitas
2 cups drained cooked or canned chickpeas, some liquid reserved if possible
1/2 cup tahini (with some of its oil) or more to taste
2 cloves garlic, peeled or to taste
1/3 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon ground cumin or smoked paprika more or less, plus a sprinkling for garnish
Freshly ground black pepper
Juice of 1 lemon, plus more as needed
6 cups lettuce or assorted salad greens, torn into pieces
Cucumber slices, tomato wedges, thinly sliced red onion, and/or black olives, for garnish
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint or parsley leaves, for garnish


1. To toast the pitas if you like, heat the oven to 450°F. Put them on a baking sheet and cook until just barely crunchy on both sides, about 15 minutes total.

2. Meanwhile make the hummus: Combine the chickpeas, tahini, garlic and 1/4 cup of the oil in a food processor with the spice and a sprinkling of salt and pepper. Use the reserved bean liquid (or water) as necessary to get machine going. Purée, then add about half of the lemon juice, along with more tahini or salt if desired.

3. When the pita has cooled smear a layer of hummus on each and put on plates. (You’ll probably have some left over; the hummus will keep, refrigerated, for about a week. Eat it with raw vegetables or on bread.) Put the lettuce in a bowl, sprinkle with some salt, pepper, and a pinch of the spice you used and drizzle with the remaining olive oil and lemon juice. Toss well then pile on top of the pitas. Garnish and serve.

Option: Hummus with dried tomatoes: Omit the tahini. Cover 1/2 cup (or more) dried tomatoes with boiling water, and soak until softened, about 15 minutes. Drain (reserve the liquid for another use), then follow the recipe, substituting the tomatoes for the tahini.

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