Toasted Sesame Hummus

Story and Recipes by Debbi Snook | Wine Commentary by Gary Twining
Photos by Beth Segal

Toast and puree whole sesame seeds for a fresh-roasted profile instead of adding the usual tahini, the store-bought paste version of the seeds. Then top it off with a sprinkle of aromatic, thyme-jazzed za’atar, which you can buy or blend yourself.

  • 1/2 cup whole sesame seeds
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1-1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 – 14-ounce cans chickpeas, drained, rinsed and drained again
  • 2 TBS za’atar for serving (optional)

Heat medium cast-iron skillet (or other heavy-bottomed pan) over medium-low heat.

Add sesame seeds and cook, stirring frequently until seeds are golden brown. Do not burn.

Place seeds with water, juice, oil, and salt in food processor or blender and process until smooth.

Add 3/4 of the chickpeas and process until smooth. Add remainder of chickpeas and continue to process, adding 1 TBS water at a time until smooth.

Dish up, sprinkle with za’atar and serve. Makes 3 cups.


  • 1 TBS each of thyme, lemon zest, ground cumin and toasted sesame seeds
  • 2 TBS roasted and ground pistachios or walnuts (optional)

Mix and use. Can store in tightly closed jar. Good with hummus or sprinkled with olive oil on pita and crumbled feta cheese. Makes 1/4 cup.

Gary: Served as an apéritif, a lighter white, both dry and softly sweet in style, would be a pleasant pairing with this earthy, flavorful appetizer with lemony acidity and aromatic thyme and cumin. Try a dry or softly dry sparkler (white or rosé), a Pinot Grigio, or a white with a hint of toasty oak to bring out the toasted sesame flavor. Look for Mediterranean whites with assertive character and bright acidity, such as Picpoul de Pinet, Grillo, Assyrtiko, Moschofilero, Txakoli, or Provence rosé.


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