I don’t often find inspiration in airplane food. But a few months ago I was on a Virgin America flight, hungry and fresh out of snacks. I ordered one of their cheese-and-cracker boxes, which came with a little tub of edamame hummus. I didn’t have high hopes, but the hummus was surprisingly great: smooth and solidly garlicky, like any good hummus should be, but lighter and more grassy. By the time I reached the bottom of the container, I was kicking myself for not having thought of it sooner.
It seems so simple, right? Just replace the chickpeas in a traditional hummus with cooked, cooled edamame. Ha! If only it were that easy. Trying to recreate that little tub of airplane hummus has taken me weeks and caused at least one tantrum. Turns out that frozen, thawed edamame don’t like to blend smooth, at least not without a lot of persuasion. It took at least three failed batches to produce a good one, but I finally got it down–a smooth green paste with the flavors of soy, lemon, tahini, and raw garlic in balance.
It all came down to the technique, and three things seem to have made the biggest difference. First, boil the frozen edamame for long enough, until the beans have lost lost their last hint of chalkiness. Second, add the edamame to the food processor in two or three batches, and make sure each addition is pureed as smooth as possible before adding the next. Third, and perhaps most importantly, puree everything for a good long while; I suggest letting the machine run for at least 30 seconds every time you add something, and let it run for a good solid minute or two once everything is in.
As with any hummus, the proportions here are entirely to taste. I like a strong but not antisocial garlic kick, a lot of lemon, and a ludicrous amount of black pepper. I like my hummus thinned with just a little bit of water, enough to make it scoopable but not saucy. I like to keep the olive oil out of the processor and drizzle it on just before serving, so that the flavor is fresh. And though I’m not usually one for food styling, I like a little dusting of something red on top–I believe sumac is traditional, but for my nonconformist green hummus, smoked paprika is just lovely.
Edamame Hummus (makes about 2 1/2 cups)
Note: If you want a super-smooth hummus, remove the skins from the edamame after they’re cooked and cooled.
1 lb (16 oz) frozen shelled edamame
Salt to taste
2 large or 4 small garlic cloves, peeled
1/4 cup (4 tbsp) tahini, plus more to taste
Juice of 1 lemon (about 3 tbsp), plus more to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
2-5 tbsp ice-cold water, as needed
Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
Paprika (regular or smoked) or sumac for dusting
Place frozen edamame in a saucepan and add enough water to cover by a couple of inches. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, skimming off any loose skins that come to the top. Add a large pinch of salt and continue to boil for 5-6 minutes, or until the edamame are tender but not mushy. Drain and rinse with cold water, then shake or pat dry.
Place garlic cloves n the bowl of a food processor, and process until finely chopped. Add tahini, lemon juice, and 1/2 tsp salt, and process on high until the mixture is smooth. Add the cooked edamame in two or three installments, processing until the last addition is smooth before adding the next. Taste the hummus and pulse in more salt, pepper, tahini, and/or lemon juice as needed.
With the motor running, open the feed tube and drizzle in water, 1 tbsp at a time, until the hummus is the consistency you want. Let the machine run on high for a couple more minutes, until the hummus is very smooth.
You can serve the hummus immediately, but its flavor will improve after a few hours in the fridge. To serve, transfer the hummus to a bowl, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, and dust with a little paprika or sumac.
Make ahead: The hummus will keep, tightly covered, in the fridge for up to 4 days, or in the freezer for up to 3 months.