My preschool class met a chef from Cava Mezze last week during our annual Community Helpers event. He made them hummus and introduced them to his secret ingredient.

It was ice.

“Doesn’t that water the hummus down?” we teachers asked.

“No,” he said. “It lightens it.”

I went home and threw a few ice cubes into my own batch of hummus.

He was right. The ice aerated the spread. It cut down on the amount of olive oil I usually use. Best, the hummus stayed light and delicious the next day — not watery like I had feared.

I tried the trick last night while making an herb pesto. Again, the ice lightened and aerated the sauce. It bound the disparate ingredients into a lovely emulsified whole. And it kept the amount of olive oil I usually use in check.

Ice! It’s an ingredient I always have on hand. And one I’ll reach for more and more.