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Hummus Becomes the Canvas for Hearty Brunch “Hummus Bil Lahme”

posted on: Feb 12, 2020

Hummus with lamb meat, chickpeas, and toasted pine nuts.

By: Blanche Shaheen/Arab America Contributing Writer

As a child growing up Arab American, I remember getting strange looks from my classmates when I brought my hummus sandwiches to school before hummus was considered cool. “What is that weird beige stuff in your sandwich?” wide-eyed children would ask time and again. I was so embarrassed because I wanted to fit in with my classmates, so I begged my parents repeatedly for peanut butter and jelly.

I’m glad my parents didn’t cave into my requests, as the nutrition profile of hummus far outshines that of peanut butter. The tahini in hummus alone is loaded with omega-3s, manganese, copper, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc,  folate, thiamin, 20 essential amino acids, and vitamins C, B6, E, and K. Tahini also contains mood elevating tryptophan, phenylalanine, and tyrosine.

The word hummus literally means “chickpea”  in Arabic. These particular beans are economical, full of protein and fiber, and eaten any time of day in the Middle East. Today, this pureed legume has taken the western world by storm. Fast-forward a couple of decades, hummus has surpassed any other dip in popularity, taking on gourmet flavors from pesto and sundried tomato to artichoke and avocado.

Homemade chickpea hummus, pita flatbread, and smoked paprika. Traditional middle eastern food, meze or appetizer. Healthy vegan meal

Arabs in the Levant serve hummus alongside fresh cheese, pita bread, tomatoes and pickles for breakfast. However, hummus is not just a dip– it can also be a filling entrée with the right accompaniments. Topped with braised lamb and pine nuts, hummus becomes the foundation for a hearty brunch, called “hummus bil lahme” or hummus with meat. For vegetarians and vegans, I developed an alternative recipe for this popular dish, hummus topped with sauteed mushrooms. As a vegetable, mushrooms are hearty and meaty in flavor and texture. You can also combine different kinds of mushrooms, like criminis and shitakes, for a more elegant presentation. Toasted pine nuts add a nutty crunch and extra protein.  The following hummus recipe is so easy you may never want to buy hummus again, and makes an excellent canvas for the toppings, whether you choose the carnivorous or vegan option.

To see the video on how to make this popular dish, click on the video below:

Recipe: Easy Foolproof Hummus (6-8 Servings)

1   (15-ounce) can chickpeas  

1/3   cup tahini paste

1/3   cup lemon juice, or to taste  

1   clove garlic, or to taste  

1/2   teaspoon cumin  

1   teaspoon salt, or to taste

Optional extra garnishes:  

2   tablespoons butter  

1/4   cup pine nuts  

Olive oil, paprika, chopped parsley, olives, pickle and tomato wedges  

Drain the chickpeas, reserving about 1/4 cup liquid. Place the chickpeas with tahini, lemon juice, garlic, cumin and salt in a food processor and blend until smooth. If the hummus is too thick, add some of the reserved chickpea liquid until it reaches the desired consistency.

Place the hummus in the center of a large flat plate and spread it toward the edges with a spoon, creating a rim around the edges so it looks sort of like a pizza crust. Place the toasted pine nuts on top in the center. 

Lamb topping

10 ounces diced or ground lamb

2 shallots, finely minced

4 cloves garlic, finely minced

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon allspice

Salt  to taste

Mushroom topping

 8 ounces mushrooms

2 shallots, finely minced

 4 cloves garlic, finely minced

 1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

 1 teaspoon allspice

Salt to taste

Pine nuts

 1/3 cup pine nuts

 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Optional garnishes

Paprika or chopped  parsley

Melt butter and olive oil in a skillet, add shallots and sauté for approximately 3 minutes. Add garlic and sauté 1 minute. Add mushrooms, or the lamb and add the allspice, salt, and pepper and continue sautéing until browned. In another smaller skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil, then add the pine nuts, stirring constantly for approximately 1 minute until browned. Remove from skillet and set aside immediately to avoid burning pine nuts. To assemble, place hummus in the center of large, flat plate and spread it toward the edges with a spoon so that it looks like a pizza crust on the outer edge. Spoon the mushroom or meat mixture in the middle, then sprinkle with pine nuts. If desired, garnish with dashes of paprika, chopped parsley, and more drizzled olive oil. 



Blanche Shaheen is a journalist, host of the YouTube cooking show called Feast in the Middle East and a cookbook author. For more authentic and classical Middle Eastern recipes, you can now purchase her brand new cookbook: “Feast in the Middle East, A Personal  Journey of Family and Cuisine” by clicking HERE: 


To  check out her cooking video tutorials and other recipes follow Blanche on


Her blog at:  





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