Sunday, December 14, 2014

Trader Joe's Tomato & Basil Hummus Dip

I believe I have eaten hummus exactly twice in my life. The first time was with Nina at a Mediterranean restaurant when I was living in Las Vegas. I was a little like this woman, though I didn't go quite so far as to claim that I had terminal cancer.

The second time was just a couple of weeks ago, at Nina's house, when she put out some crackers and lemon-flavored hummus (not a Trader Joe's product). She said she thought I would like it, and I did.

Just for the record, I am not alone in my hummus naivete.

Anyway, I had already tried the lentil chips mentioned in the last post, but I had eaten them unadorned. It occurred to me that they could stand some good dip. Because of the recent lemon hummus experience, I decided to see what TJ's had to offer by way of hummus. They had several, but the "tomato-basil" variety struck me as the most likely to be something I would like. I did notice the word "dip" in the name, but I assumed that that only meant that they did something to the texture to make it more suitable for scooping up with chips.

It was only after I got it home that I looked more closely at the label and realized that this wasn't slightly modified hummus; it was dip that had some hummus in it. The first listed ingredient is tomatoes. Oops. Oh well. Live and learn.

But regardless of the erroneous mental process that led to my selection, I liked the stuff. It's bold and substantial. The texture is just right for dipping--it's not hard to pick up, not runny or drippy. I dub it a winner.

Will I buy it again? 

Yes. It's not often I feel an urge for chip dip, but when I do, this will be high on the list of choices.

Nina’s View

I found this dip very weird. It’s basically a chilled, congealed version of TJ’s Vodka Sauce for pasta (which you will probably eventually see a review of from Bob). I was so weirded out by the similarity in flavor profile that I could not get behind this dip in the slightest.

I like hummus in many, many different guises. But not this one.


An advantage of having a long lag between when I write most posts and when they publish is that sometimes I have tried an item one or more additional times and can add more perspective. In the three months or so since I wrote the above, I went on a hummus mini-rampage. I have tried about a dozen different kinds, and have started to develop definite preferences.

So the last time I was in Trader Joe's, having now tried most of their hummus varieties, I decided to return to this hummus dip, since it was the first one I bought, and see if my opinion on it would be changed by all the hummus I had had since.

Boy howdy, did it ever change. I was going to try to describe it, but sitting down to write, I came across Nina's description, which I had completely forgotten about. She nailed it. That is exactly how it seems to me now. I had ten or so chips dipped in it, and just couldn't stand it anymore. I threw the rest of the container away. It's nasty.

Maybe it's good that I started with this, because being tomatoey it was familiar and unfrightening. I'm sure that's why I selected it from all the choices TJ's has for sale. But it's precisely for that reason that it just ain't hummus. There is apparently some hummus in there somewhere (both garbanzo beans and tahini are on the list of ingredients), but it really does taste and feel like cold, thick pasta sauce--which is not what I want when I'm in a hummus mood.

Now I read my original review above and can't help but wonder: what was I thinking???

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