The other night I had friends over for dinner and one of them brought some pita bread and hummus for us to nibble on as I cooked.  As she left, I tried to send the hummus home with her, but her response was, “No, you keep it. I don’t think I’ll eat it.”

I couldn’t comprehend the statement! Hummus has more uses than you can shake a carrot stick at.

Hummus can be more than just a party dip or appetizer -- you've just got to think outside the pita.    It's no secret that hummus makes a fine complement to just about any fresh vegetable.  (My favorite is baby carrots.)  It also makes an excellent spread for  sandwiches, wraps, or paninis.   If meat is a must, think California Club: toast some whole wheat bread and top with turkey, bacon, avocado, sprouts, and tomatoes--but replace the mayo with hummus.  I like to spread it on warm flatbread with grilled zucchini and yellow squash, tomatoes, and feta (you could even tuck some leftover tabbouleh in there).

Recently I used extra hummus to replace eggs as a binder in minichicken burgers that I served with mango chutney as part of a tapasspread.  I sautéed about ¼ cup each of celery and red onion and mixedit with a pound of ground chicken, ¼ cup hummus, 3 tablespoonsbreadcrumbs, some Indian spices, and fresh herbs.  I formed the mix into little patties and  pan-fried them in a skillet with a little oil.  They were moist and delicious.   If you like to improvise, get creative with the spices and herbs to suit your taste.

Hummus is just a good thing to have on hand -- as an easy dip to offer to unexpected company, a quick and healthy snack, and a great complement for many other leftover foods.   Whatever the use, I love that garlicky tang and definitely won’t let it go to waste!

Making your own hummus is easy. I make my hummus with a combination of equal-parts chickpeas andcannellini beans; I think it creates the perfect blend of flavor andtexture. Try our Traditional Hummus recipe, which has three additional variations: Feta-Baked Hummus, Spicy Red Pepper Hummus, and White Bean and Roasted Garlic Hummus.