Pages Menu
Categories Menu

Posted on Jun 9, 2016 |

Rita’s Recipe: Easy Hummus

Rita’s Recipe: Easy Hummus

Sesame seeds have been used in cooking since ancient times. Photo by Gokhan Okur, courtesy FreeImages.

Sesame seeds have been used in cooking since ancient times. Photo by Gokhan Okur, courtesy FreeImages.

The expression “Open Sesame” has its roots in Bible days!

In the tale of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, the magic words “Open Sesame” refer to the fact that when sesame flowers go to seed they create pods and when you touch them the pods burst open. So the words “Open Sesame” were used to make the cave, a robber’s den, open instantly.

Sesame seeds are still called benne seeds in the south. The slaves from Africa called them benne seeds and when they came to the south, the name stuck.

Using esame seeds and sesame oil in foods dates back well before the time of Christ.

Two popular recipes with sesame are hummus and zaatar. Zaatar is a spice containing sumac, thyme and sesame as the main ingredients. It’s sprinkled on flatbread and used for dipping in hummus and yogurt.


Zaatar flatbread

Buy flatbread, brush with olive oil and sprinkle with zaatar. Run under broiler until it browns a bit. Yum!


Rita’s easy hummus

It’s one of my most requested.  “Store-bought hummus is way too expensive” is my motto.  Better than anything you can buy and a lot less costly. Little Emerson, my granddaughter, loves hummus. If too thick, add a little water.


(Email subscribers: Click on the post head to watch the video of Rita making hummus.)

  • 1 can (15 oz) chick peas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • Lemon juice, olive oil, and Tahini (ground sesame seed “paste”)  to taste – start with 3 tablespoons and go from there
  • Salt to taste
  • Cumin to taste – start with a teaspoon
  • Whole milk Greek yogurt to taste – start with 1/4 cup
  • Cayenne pepper powder to taste – a tiny bit!
  • Mash chickpeas by hand or in food processor until of desired smoothness.  Add everything else and mix.


Why this recipe is good for you:

  • Chickpeas contain protein and calcium.
  • Tahini is sesame seed paste and high in protein.
  • Cumin is a good source of iron.


Rita Heikenfeld.

Rita Heikenfeld.

Rita Nader Heikenfeld writes a weekly syndicated column and blog for the Community Press, appears every Thursday on the Son Rise Morning Show, and is the author of several cookbooks. An adjunct professor at the University of Cincinnati, she is Certified Culinary Professional and Certified Modern Herbalist,  the Culinary Professional for Jungle Jim’s Eastgate, and a media personality with a cable show and YouTube videos. In 2014 she was inducted into the Escoffier Hall of Fame. She lives “in the sticks” outside Batavia, Ohio with her family, where they heat with wood, raise chickens for eggs, and grow their own produce and herbs. You’ll find all her previous recipes featured on The Catholic Beat here.

Rita’s Bible Foods segment airs on the Son Rise Morning Show every Thursday morning at 7:22 am (rebroadcast Friday at 6:02 am). Tune in to hear her discuss the history behind each recipe and the scripture verses that inspired it. And of course, for cooking tips!

Click here to go to the home page and see all our current stories.

If you’ve enjoyed this story, please share it. To get local Catholic news, features and photos every day in your inbox, subscribe in the box at the top of every page or send a request to