Lemon/Basil Hummus and "The Little Cucumber that Could"

One of my favorite childhood stories was the children’s book called The Little Engine that Could……….

………..the charming tale of a small blue engine who overcame the monumental task of
 carrying a long train over a huge mountain. Bigger and more powerful engines couldn’t do the job that the little blue engine succeeded at through sheer determination and positive thinking, all the while repeating the infamous,”I think I can, I think I can, I think I can……………”.

Every time I look out my kitchen windo
w I can almost hear my potted cucumber plant chanting this same mantra. You see, we purchased a tiny  cucumber plant 
(maybe three inches tall) back in May and planted it in a pot on our deck. It didn’t take long for little “Cukey” to make himself at home and start growing right out of his britches! Before we knew it the energetic plant was spilling over the edges of the pot and looking for where to go next. 

My husband set up a trellis ( taller than I am!) and everyday we could see progress in a race to the top. It was only a few weeks and Cukey was no longer little; he had grown to the top of the trellis and continued to send out runners. Before we knew it, he found the nearby holly tree, attached himself and poor Holly now has an identity crisis – it has cucumbers growing here, there and everywhere!

My basil is also going berserk right now and I wanted to make something yummy that would utilize my plethora of fresh herbs and crazy cucumbers so I decided on this delicious hummus. I found a recipe in 
Cooks Illustrated and adapted it a bit with the fresh basil and lemon zest. The recipe calls for dried chick peas rather than canned. It takes a bit of planning as you have to soak the beans overnight and then simmer them till tender, but I think the results are worth it. If you are in a pinch for time, feel free to substitute canned chick peas. My hummus took a few trial and errors, but I think you will enjoy this healthy treat. It would also be wonderful served with pita chips or on a Mediterranean BLT or a Chicken Pita Wrap

Lemon/Basil Hummus

1 ½ cups dried chickpeas
2 quarts water
¼ teaspoon baking soda
f lemon zest, from 1 lemon
½ cup lemon (juice)
1 cup tahini, stirred well*
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 1/2 teaspoon)
1 ½ teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
pinch Cayenne
2 cups fresh basil leaves


1. Pick through and rinse chickpeas. Place beans in large bowl, cover with 1 quart water, and soak overnight. Drain. Bring beans, baking soda, and 1 quart water to boil in large saucepan over high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, until beans are tender, about 1 hour. Drain, reserving 1 cup bean cooking water, and cool.

2. Process cooked chickpeas, garlic, salt , cumin and cayenne in food processor until fully ground, about 30 seconds. Scrape down bowl with a rubber spatula and add olive oil, tahini, lemon juice, lemon zest and 1/2 cup of the cooking water. Process until very smooth, adding more water as needed. You want hummus to be fairly loose, not too pasty. You can test the consistency by scooping up a bit of it with a chip or a veggie.

3. Transfer hummus to serving bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let stand until flavors meld, at least 30 minutes. Drizzle with olive oil, diced tomatoes (if desired) and freshly ground black pepper – serve and enjoy!

This recipe makes quite a bit, feel free to cut it in half. I like to make it in larger quantities as it keeps well for a week in the refrigerator and is such a healthy snack. It’s also great for making pitas or using as a spread on sandwiches.
*Tahini can be found on the ethnic aisle of larger grocery stores and also at Middle Eastern groceries.

Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated

5 thoughts on “Lemon/Basil Hummus and "The Little Cucumber that Could"”

  • This is SO perfect for summer ! Your garden looks gorgeous – what a lovely presentation – thank you!

  • Oh, and I do have to add a funny “aside” to your comment – the first time I made this hummus and plated it with some veggies, I asked my husband to take some pictures. He started taking photos and before long he looked at me and said “honestly Chris, this looks like a pile of doggy doo doo”, So we scrapped that photo shoot and I worked real hard the next time to make it look pretty! This is all to say I’m not always a food artisan! But I am thankful that there is someone who will always be honest with me – even if it’s brutally honest 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *