Smoky Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

By Ann Fulton

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A few key ingredients add eye-catching color and incredible flavor to this classically creamy, protein-rich dish. And while perfect as a filling snack or easy appetizer, hummus can be enjoyed in other unexpected ways!

A few key ingredients add vibrant color and flavor to this classically creamy, protein-rich dip. And while perfect as a filling snack or easy appetizer, hummus can be enjoyed in other unexpected ways as well!

 

Traditional hummus pulls its weight as a filling snack and easy appetizer, but the creamy, protein-rich dip doesn’t stop there. And with its smoky flavor and eye-catching hue, the following hummus is especially adept at going the distance.  

For example, we enjoy this recipe as a flavorful sandwich spread at lunchtime and as a fancy “swoosh” under otherwise basic pan-seared shrimp for dinner. I’ve also spread a layer over boneless, skinless chicken breasts before baking, adding a sprinkle of Everything Bagel Seasoning prior to serving. More ideas follow.

The beautiful orange hue that distinguishes this hummus from the traditional formulation comes from roasted red peppers and a few key spices. Roasting your own peppers will yield the most vibrant flavor, but I’ve used jarred peppers as a worthy shortcut many times.

Conveniently, when using store-bought roasted peppers, the hummus takes mere minutes to make. It also means that all of the ingredients are pantry or refrigerator staples, making the recipe an easy go-to when you need a last minute appetizer, snack, or foundation for a plant-based meal.

For that reason, I keep a jar of roasted peppers in my pantry. However, when you have a few extra minutes, I recommend roasting your own peppers. I’ve streamlined the process to the point that it feel almost effortless, and the resulting flavor is sweet, smoky, robust, and delicious.  

Simple to make yourself! While it is traditional to roast red peppers, any type of pepper can be roasted, including yellow, green, or hot peppers such as jalapeños.

Roasted peppers can also be tossed into pasta, blended into sauces, added to salads, sandwiches, burgers, and more. The homemade option is especially helpful when you have an abundance of summer vegetables, or simply when you have one of two peppers that need to be used. 

Because there will be more inherent sweetness with the home-roasted peppers, I include a minor adjustment in the amount of lemon juice based on option used. Either way, this recipe has been popular at backyard barbecues, tailgates, and potlucks, even among those who don’t tend to get excited about hummus. 

Along with the smoky, earthy notes of cumin and smoked paprika, I’ve discovered that a tablespoon of harissa paste adds lovely depth of flavor. If you don’t have any, you may skip it. I also mention a few worthy backups. 

Similarly, I have made this recipe with cannellini beans and chickpeas and mention a variation I devised for someone who couldn’t eat tahini due to a sesame allergy. 

The final piece of the puzzle that will make this or any homemade hummus taste just like your favorite grocery or restaurant version is salt. If you’ve ever made your own hummus and found it beautifully creamy but lacking the pop of flavor you expected, an extra pinch or two of salt may be all it needs.

A few key ingredients add eye-catching color and incredible flavor to this classically creamy, protein-rich dish. And while perfect as a filling snack or easy appetizer, hummus can be enjoyed in other unexpected ways!

A speedy recipe is often one we make more often, which presents a case for jarred peppers. But if you have fresh red bell peppers on hand and would like to roast your own, I recommend Easy Roasted Red Peppers. They are smoky and sweet and will add a deliciously colorful element to a variety of salads, pastas, sandwiches and more. 

A few key ingredients add eye-catching color and incredible flavor to this classically creamy, protein-rich dish. And while perfect as a filling snack or easy appetizer, hummus can be enjoyed in other unexpected ways!

I love the color of this hummus as much as I enjoy the flavor!

A few key ingredients add eye-catching color and incredible flavor to this classically creamy, protein-rich dish. And while perfect as a filling snack or easy appetizer, hummus can be enjoyed in other unexpected ways!

Topping the finished hummus with any of the spices used in the recipe, a drizzle or olive oil, and/or a crumble of feta is strictly optional but will add an extra hint of flavor and visual appeal.

Though we traditionally think of hummus as a dip (and it’s a good one!), it’s much more than a one-trick pony.

Creative ways to enjoy hummus…

One of my favorite, if not somewhat unexpected, ways to put this flavorful condiment to use is to thin it a bit and then use as a gourmet “swoosh” under grilled or roasted chicken, seared shrimp, fish, even pork or flank steak.

Alternatively, for a satisfying vegetarian meal, spread a thick layer on a plate and top with roasted vegetables and a sprinkle of crumbled feta and nuts or seeds. Omit the feta for a vegan entrée. If desired, you could serve with pita or flatbread for mopping up the excess dip.

A few more ways to enjoy hummus:

  • Use as a sandwich spread
  • Enjoy as an avocado toast alternative (i.e., hummus toast)
  • Make hummus-stuffed hard boiled eggs (instead of deviled eggs)
  • Spread over boneless, skinless chicken breasts before baking
  • Serve as a delicious dip for shrimp
  • And of course, as a dip with veggies, pita, pretzels, etc.

More ways to enjoy harissa paste:

After using this flavorful paste in the hummus recipe, below, consider putting it to good use in one or more of the following recipes.

 A few key ingredients add eye-catching color and incredible flavor to this classically creamy, protein-rich dish. And while perfect as a filling snack or easy appetizer, hummus can be enjoyed in other unexpected ways!

Smoky Roasted Red Pepper Hummus
Yield: 2¼ + cups
This protein-rich dip offers a delightful appetizer or filling snack when served with veggies dippers, pretzels, chips, or pita bread. It also makes a lovely sandwich spread or sauce for chicken and fish and can be the base of a filling vegetarian meal when topped with roasted vegetables and served with a side of pita.

If you’d like to get fancy, you may use one or more of the optional toppings. That said, the dip will be delicious without them.
Ingredients
  • 2 whole roasted red bell peppers or ½ a 16-ounce jar (2-3 jarred peppers—they tend to be smaller— or about 6 ounces after draining well)
  • 1 (14- to 15-ounce) can cannellini beans (may substitute chickpeas)
  • ¼ cup (64g) tahini (see notes for sesame-free option)
  • 1 tablespoon (15ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice (plus more to taste*)
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon each smoked paprika and ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon (15g) harissa paste**
  • 1 garlic clove, roughly chopped***
  • Optional for topping: crumbled feta, a drizzle of olive oil, toasted pinenuts, an extra sprinkle of smoked paprika, ground cumin, toasted cumin seeds, and/or sesame seeds
  • For serving: veggies dippers like carrots, celery, cucumbers, and bell pepper strips (or mini bell peppers, halved); crackers, pretzels, pita chips or bread, or tortilla chips
Instructions

Helpful hint: rinse and drain the beans, and when doing so, reserve a half cup or so of the can liquid in case you’d like to use it for thinning the hummus later. Optionally, olive oil may be used.

Add the drained beans, roasted red peppers, tahini, lemon juice, salt, smoked paprika, cumin, harissa paste, and garlic to the work bowl of a food processor. Process until very smooth, scraping down the sides as needed. Drizzle bean water (or olive oil), a few teaspoons at time, if a thinner consistency is desired, and process again. Check for seasoning, adding a touch more salt, lemon juice, or harissa, to taste.

Transfer to a bowl for serving or storing.

When ready to serve, garnish as desired, and serve with dippers of choice. Stored in the refrigerator, the hummus will keep for about a week.

Notes

*Feel free to add more lemon juice to taste. I start with 1 tablespoon when using jarred roasted peppers and 1½ tablespoons when roasting my own. The latter tend to be sweeter and benefit from a touch more acid. From this starting point, I taste and then often add an extra 2 teaspoons or so.

**Harissa paste adds a lovely smoky flavor and a little heat. If you don’t have it, you may substitute a similar chile paste like sambal oelek (or sriracha in a pinch) and start with 2 teaspoons if concerned about level of heat.

***If not a garlic fan, feel free to omit. Conversely, you may add two cloves to heighten the flavor.

Need a sesame-free hummus? I have successfully substituted cashew butter. Its neutral taste works well but also calls for a bit more lemon juice and harissa. Cashew butter doesn’t have an especially nutty taste, so to enhance that flavor you could use 2 tablespoons each cashew butter and peanut butter.

The Fountain Avenue Kitchen https://fountainavenuekitchen.com/

A few key ingredients add eye-catching color and incredible flavor to this classically creamy, protein-rich dish. And while perfect as a filling snack or easy appetizer, hummus can be enjoyed in other unexpected ways!  

In this backyard barbecue photo, the hummus is paired with Black Bean Dip. I serve the latter with Scoops corn chips for another easy but crowd-pleasing appetizer. Both appetizers transition to a dinner buffet quite well. In fact, I frequently serve the black bean dip as a salad or salsa for grilled meats.

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