hummus heaped with tomatoes and cucumbers

Like clockwork every summer, I decide that the only thing I want to eat, maybe forever because when it’s warm out I completely forget winter is coming (I’m sorry, I had to), are variations on tomato-cucumber salad. We did a world tour of these last year and it might take me another decade of Smitten Kitchen-ing but I will get to them all. Left to our own devices, my husband and I probably would probably eat do exactly this for dinner at least a couple nights a week but when feeding kids, I always feel the need — I mean, what are they, growing rapidly and we’re supposed to fuel them with balanced meals or something? — to provide a little more than a bowl of cucumbers and tomatoes for dinner. You know, protein and stuff.

swirl of hummus with olive oil, za'atar

In the U.S., we generally think of hummus (which simply means “chickpea” in Arabic) as a cold snack, a dip you buy in the fridge case to help distract you from, say, cool ranch potato chip dip or something. But throughout the Middle East, there are hummusiots/hummsias, places that serve hummus warm and freshly made, often a little softer than what we get here, usually heaped with other things. Yes, as a meal; a heavenly one. Toppings might include additional tahini or chickpeas, cooked fava beans (ful), sautéed mushrooms, roasted beets, hard-boiled eggs, falafel, spicy ground beef, chopped tomato-onion-cucumber salads, pickles, and/or green olives plus always a stack of freshly baked puffy pitas. In some areas, hummus is a breakfast food, accompanied with labneh and mint. And it is from daydreaming about all of this — with a reminder from this oh-so-tempting Ina Garten photo from last week — that I realized that the easiest way to turn my tomato-cucumber salad obsession in to a meal was to serve it hummusiot-style.

all my prettiesme hiding from red onions that make me crytomato, cucumber, red onionplus herbs

This could not be simpler to pull off for dinner tonight: chop some tomatoes, cucumber, and red onion and dress it lightly with olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper and parsley (or a mix of parsley, mint, and chives, as I did), toast some pitas, scoop some hummus onto a plate, pile it all together, and dig in. Repeat until September.

hummus with tomato-cucumber salad
hummus with tomato-cucumber salad

But — surprise, surprise — I got a little carried away. Should you wish to as well, here are two ways:

pre-peeled chickpeas, cooked and drained Homemade hummus, either your favorite recipe or mine: I’ve mentioned before that my favorite way to make hummus is a little pernickety, but for me, completely worth it: you peel the chickpeas. However, I picked up some dried already-peeled chickpeas (whoa) at Kalustyan’s and an hour or so of simmering later, blended up some unspeakably good hummus.

yogurt flatbreads Make your own pitas or crisp flatbreads. I show here some yogurt flatbreads, but I’m being a terrible tease because they’ll be in this little thing that comes out in October. (I might have mentioned it once or twice before, heh.)

Hummus Heaped with Tomatoes and Cucumbers

This is so simple to make, it’s almost a non-recipe, but after sharing the cooking of this on Instagram last night, I received such a happy swarm of recipe requests, and I know it can help to have things in detail, I wanted to write it up. Salads like this are very flexible; I sometimes add bell pepper, other times radishes, and when I can get them, pomegranate arils. The key thing is that you want to chop everything very small; it should be scoopable. For a more fall-ish salad, I’d use this. If you’re looking for more protein (and of course are not trying to keep this vegan), hard boiled eggs are a popular hummus topping. If you’re looking to add meat, it’s not uncommon; I’d start with this lamb-lentil mixture.

  • 4 large pitas, toasted, cut into wedges
  • 2 cups prepared hummus (from this recipe, your favorite recipe, or your favorite brand)
  • Olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups (8 ounces or 225 grams) cherry tomatoes, chopped small, plus more to taste
  • 8 ounces (225 grams) small cucumbers, washed, unpeeled, chopped small
  • 1/4 medium red onion, chopped small
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Sumac and/or za’atar (optional)
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley, or a mix of parsley, mint, and chives, plus more for garnish

Spread hummus on a large plate with the back of a spoon, creating swirls and cavities. Drizzle it lightly with olive oil, just to freshen it up.

Mix tomatoes, cucumbers, onion, lemon, about 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, plus salt and pepper to taste in a bowl. If you have sumac, add about 1/4 teaspoon. Stir in herbs. Heap salad on hummus, arrange pita wedges all around. Finish with additional za’atar, sumac, and/or fresh herbs.


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