It all starts with a pea.
Hummus is a dip made from cooked, mashed chickpeas that are blended with tahina (I always say tahini!,) oil, salt, garlic and various other spices, depending on the flavor. It can be found in 90% of the homes in Israel, but only 20% of the homes in the US. 51% of those people choose Sabra hummus above all other brands. Probably because they do it really, really well!
This morning 5 other bloggers and myself set out for the newly built Sabra hummus factory in Richmond, VA, which was built with the environment in mind.
It’s Silver LEED Certified, made with 20% recyclable materials, and contains energy saving features like rain water collectors and super thick installation.
After we got situated, we suited up in standard factory-touring attire – lab coats, hair nets and safety goggles (awww yeah) – then got down to it! Mike S, the head of Research & Development, acted as tour guide and led the way – straight through the swinging, factory doors and right into the middle of all the action!
The first thing that hit our senses was the pungent smell of raw garlic. The garlic! All of Sabra’s hummus flavors are made with garlic, and OH.EM.GEE. you can tell. The smell of this natural aphrodisiac (as one blogger informed us – oolala!) was almost overpowering, but also slightly awesome. (I just hope the person sitting next to me on my flights home thinks so too!)
As our noses adjusted to the smell, we started to notice other scents swirling around. Exotic, smoky spices like cardamom, cumin and parsley filled the air. Heavenly! As we sniffed, we continued on to see where the chickpeas, the base of hummus, are soaked, cooked, then smashed into paste.
Sabra’s signature, silky hummus texture comes from the way they cook their chickpeas – which is top secret – as well as the way it’s moved throughout the factory. Pumping hummus through tubes compromises the texture, so it’s always mixed and mashed in vats high in the air, then dropped down through funnels at a very precise angle into holding tanks by gravity.
I thought that was a neat tidbit. :)
After meeting the “Spice Girls” – Sabra’s team of master spice mixers – checking out packaging lines and the storage warehouse, it was time to TASTE THE HUMMUS! Huzzah!
We walked out of the factory, and straight into the test kitchen, where Sabra’s Head Chef was waiting with a warm plate of Hummus & Eggplant Dip with fresh pita bread for dipping. Come to Mama!
Chef explained that making the dip was actually easy. All she did was fire roast an eggplant right on top of her gas range (us electric stove users could use our broiler) until the skin was black. Next she peeled it off then mashed and heated the flesh with original flavored hummus until it was warm and bubbly.
This made ME warm and bubbly. I never thought I liked eggplant until I tried this, and I’m totally going to recreate at home!
Next she brought out two of Sabra’s newest hummus flavors – which are being released in stores as we speak. Buffalo Style Hummus and Basil Pesto Hummus!
Now, Sabra’s hummus is gluten free – and vegetarian (maybe vegan?) – so how they made this Buffalo Style Hummus taste like a big bowl of buffalo wings by only using natural flavors is beyond me.
The flavor was created to try and get non-hummus eating folks over the “hummus hurdle” with a fun, familiar and unintimidating flavor to try.
The Basil Pesto totally rocked my world though. Sooo summery and fresh tasting with a big, bold basil flavor.
I want to melt it over a huge bowl of hot, whole wheat pasta with fresh tomatoes, grilled zucchini and chicken – ASAP!
The tasting was not over yet though. Nooo, no, no, no. It had only just begun! Check out the spread they laid out in front of us next!
And endless supply of Sabra’s new Guacamole,
(chunky, fresh and tasting just like homemade)
(mmmm, I kinda like mine better, although it is worth noting that the tomatoes used in their salsas are hand selected every morning by a guy out in California!)
and Greek Yogurt Dips.
(omg – the dips!!!)
Made to replace sour cream dips that are high in fat and low in protein, these dips are all-natural and incredibly satisfying.
My favorite of the three (Spinach & Artichoke, Roasted Garlic and Onion & Fresh Herb) was the Onion and Herb.
Thick and slightly tangy – it tasted just like Green Onion Chip Dip, except a lot healthier for you.
At least that’s how I justified eating half the container. ;)
I figured that was lunch – as we’d been eating for at least an hour – but just as I thought I couldn’t pass one more chip through my lips, another Sabra chef walked through the door with even MORE food!
Colombe is one of the gals behind Sabra’s blog and was once a contestant on The Next Food Network Star. You can tell she really loves what she does, as she walked us through the dishes she had freshly prepared.
A Mediterranean Dip Plate made with basil pesto hummus on the bottom, and topped with cucumber, tomato, chopped lettuce, Onion & Herb Greek Yogurt Dip and kalamata olives, surrounded by a ring of crunchy pita chips.
This was outstanding. Creamy AND crunchy, and bursting with flavor. I can’t wait to make this for a party…or myself…sometime. :)
A crudite platter with hummus for dipping,
and Chicken Salad Wraps made with hummus instead of mayo!
Colombe told us that hummus is a great substitute for mayo on sandwiches, in wraps and salads, and in dishes like deviled eggs. Clearly it’s much more than just a dip, as you can use it in tons of ways. Maybe my favorite way of the day? Toasted Coconut Topped Chocolate Hummus Cups!
Oh yeah! Hummus for dessert! :D At first I was a little petrified. First of all, would I be able to eat one more morsel of food? Second of all, did I want to try savory hummus mixed with my beloved sweet chocolate?! Before I could give it too much thought, I threw caution to the wind, my mouth wide open and chomped down on the chocolate-flavored hummus piped into phyllo dough cups and topped with toasted coconut, caramel and sea salt!!!
It was incredible. Sweet, but not too sweet, and the hint of sea salt really took it there. The textures were so smart too. Crunchy cup and coconut, creamy hummus and chewy caramel. I now know that chocolate hummus and salted caramel were made for each other. That’s all I’m sayin’. :D
It was then that I slumped down in my chair and, in a
mild semi-serious hummus coma, surveyed the scene. We had done some mayjuh damage. Look at this! I won’t eat for weeks!
We wrapped up the afternoon by learning a bit more about the company’s history, goals and future product development ideas from Sabra’s Brand Manager, Mina (oh yeah – we were being filmed all day, so I think there’s a video coming?! Stay tuned. ;) ) and before we knew it, our delicious day at the Sabra hummus factory had come to an end!
I’ve been eating Sabra hummus for several years and after meeting the people behind the product, and seeing how it’s made from start to finish, my desire to incorporate it into my cooking and snacking has only increased. They’ve got tons of recipes on their website that I intend to try out, so stay tuned!
OH! Also stay tuned for a Sabra centered giveaway so you can get in on this deliciousness too! :D
With that, I am outta here! Thanks so much to Sabra for a fabulous, thoughtful and delicious afternoon in Virginia (which I totally want to return to – it’s so green, lush and beautiful!)