The best thing to do with store-bought and leftover hummus? Bake it

Whisk in a little hot water (or aquafaba if you've got it) to loosen up cold hummus.
Whisk in a little hot water (or aquafaba if you've got it) to loosen up cold hummus. Photo: Katrina Meynink

My disdain for most store-bought hummus is no secret. Compared to even mediocre homemade versions, the supermarket stuff is usually too pasty and thick, and preservatives sometimes contribute sharp, off flavours.

There are exceptions, of course, but for the most part, nothing compares to the hummus you can make so quickly at home, even with canned chickpeas.

Another problem with store-bought hummus is the temperature: As chef Michael Solomonov writes in his cookbook Zahav, referring to the hummusiyas in Israel, "Great hummus is never refrigerated. The best places make a big batch each morning and close the doors when it runs out, usually by mid-afternoon."

Hummus. Karen Martini MY TUNISIA recipes for Epicure and Good Food. Photographed by Marina Oliphant. Styling by Andrea Geisler. Photographed April 13, 2013.

Karen Martini's hummus recipe. Photo: Marina Oliphant

Refrigeration mutes the balanced flavours of perfect hummus and, perhaps worse, turns it stiff. But the commercial stuff requires refrigeration (as do leftovers of your homemade version).

The simplest way to improve any cold hummus is by taking the chill off.

So the simplest way to improve any cold hummus is by taking the chill off: microwave it and/or whisk in a little hot water (or aquafaba if you've got it) to loosen it up and return some of that silkiness to its texture.

Even better, you can bake it, as in this recipe below from the British Leon chain of fast-food restaurants.

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Adam Liaw recipe : Whole roasted cauliflower with hummus and honey
Photograph by William Meppem (photographer on contract, no restrictions)

Adam Liaw's roasted cauliflower with hummus and honey. Photo: William Meppem

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This version cooks it under a blanket of harissa-coated cherry tomatoes and whole chickpeas, with pine nuts sprinkled on top for even more texture.

If you've never had warm hummus, this is a revelation. The tomatoes burst and add their juices to the mix, while the hummus puffs up and gets a little crispy around the edges.

It's absolutely stellar if you're using great homemade hummus, and it's pretty darn good with the store-bought stuff, too. It's the best recipe I can think of if you're interested in dip for dinner, and it also makes great leftovers – if you warm them up first.

Baked hummus recipe

This might be a revelation, if you've never had warm hummus. The beauty is that it helps elevate even less-than-stellar store-bought hummus, but it is glorious with homemade.

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 cups store-bought or homemade hummus
  • 1 can no-salt-added chickpeas or 1½ cups cooked chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 3 tbsp store-bought or homemade harissa
  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ tsp fine salt
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tbsp pine nuts, toasted (may substitute slivered almonds)
  • flatbreads, for serving

METHOD

  1. Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 200C fan-forced (220C conventional).
  2. Spoon the hummus into a 2-litre baking tray. Mix in half the chickpeas and smooth out the top.
  3. In a bowl, toss the remaining chickpeas with the cherry tomatoes, harissa, oil, salt and pepper until everything is evenly coated. Pour the mixture on top of the hummus.
  4. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the tomatoes have burst and become soft and slightly burnished on top. Sprinkle over the pine nuts and serve warm with flatbreads.

Serves 4 as a main, with pita or any other flatbread, or 8 as a starter.

Make ahead Homemade hummus can be prepared and refrigerated for up to 1 week before you add the other ingredients and bake it.

Storage notes Refrigerate for up to 1 week. Rewarm before serving.

Recipe adapted from Leon Happy One-Pot Vegetarian by Rebecca Seal and Chantal Symons (Conran, 2022).

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