Gina: Whenever we were fussy about what we ate as kids, my mom would say, "Don't judge it by the way it looks." This is the case for me with hummus. 

I will openly and freely admit that the first time I saw a bowl of hummus I wanted nothing to do with it. But once I realized chickpeas are similar to black-eyed peas, I not only decided to give hummus a try, I took it one step further and invented my own down-home version of the dip, made with black-eyed peas. In my version, I leave out the tahini and throw in smoked paprika, cumin, and cayenne to punch up the spiciness just enough to make all the flavors pop.


Two 15-ounce cans black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed

2 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled

Zest and juice of 1 lemon

1/4 cup cold water

1/4 cup olive oil

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/8 teaspoon ground cumin

Pinch of cayenne pepper

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Pita chips or cut-up vegetables, for serving

Directions for Hummus

In a food processor, combine the black-eyed peas, garlic, lemon zest and juice, water, olive oil, sesame oil, paprika, cumin, cayenne, and salt and pepper. Puree until blended and smooth. Serve with pita chips or cut-up vegetables.

Makes 1 1/2 cups, serving 4 to 6.

Directions for Homemade Pita Chips

Three 8- or 10- inch pita rounds

1 large clove garlic, smashed, peeled, and halved

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Rub each pita round with smashed garlic, and then brush with olive oil. Cut each round into eight wedges, and arrange on a baking sheet. Sprinkle the wedges with salt, and bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until lightly golden. Serve with hummus.

Serves 6.

Recipe excerpted from Back Home with the Neelys by Pat and Gina Neely, with Ann Volkwein. Available at

Originally published in the June 2014 issue of Family Circle magazine.

Get more celebrity recipes, including The Neelys' Summer Fruit Cobbler