Romesco white bean dip

For those of you holidaying abroad this summer, or considering it’s the end of August, have already spent your week away and have hoiday blues. You’ve wined and dined eating the local cuisine, immersed yourself in a new culture, had many failed attempts at the local lingo, driven on the wrong side of the road and made many memories.

That’s what holidays are really about the memories.

A certain time and place, the view, the company, it all adds up to make these memories. Ever had lunch on a beach drinking a glass of wine, to go and buy that very same bottle to take home, but when it comes to drinking, it just doesn’t taste as good. Or asked the waiter for the recipe for that sublime paella or meze dish to cook it at home, it most likely won’t taste as good.

So I bring to you a take on a famous sauce from the northern region of Spain, Catalonia. The romesco sauce is punchy from the paprika and cayenne but rich due to the almonds and Spanish olive oil. If you’ve ever experienced a true romesco sauce, no this won’t be the same, it may not be as good, it may even be better?!? But it has its feet stuck firmly in its roots.

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The original sauce uses bread as a thickener, a good white sourdough or chunky country loaf is ideal as it also imparts some flavour. Here though I’ve opted for some white beans. When making a dip I tend to gravitate towards a plantbased protein, typically in the form of lentils or beans, so whether it comes to afternoon snacking or building a big veggie bowl it will keep me sustained. White beans help to thicken the dip and provide a creaminess meaning less oil is needed plus who doesn’t like an alternative to hummus!?! I may feel the urge to bathe in it, but sometimes a change is necessary, so in comes this bright red beauty.

How much chilli, and which variety of chilli you use is comepletely up to you. I use a picante paprika by La Chinata, it is the hot smoked kind so has a good kick, if you’re using paprika just from the supermarket you may need to add a little more to get the right smoky level. Also I used half a dried ancho chilli which has sweeter fruity notes and isn’t too spicy but dried chilli flakes will substitute just finneeeeee. You won’t need to rehydrate these so just add straight to the food processor.

 

I served this in a few different ways, just as a dip with crudites, once in a big veggie bowl packed with sweet potato and courgette chips, avocado, some grains and greens. Another time in a packed lunch with olives, carrot, extra butter beans and a few other veggies thrown in the mix. Stir in some extra olive oil, vinegar if you like and a drop of water to make a killer salad dressing that will liven up any old salad. Or serve with some simply cooked fish or chicken or steak, or smeared underneath a plate of roasted meditteranean veg. I like to work on a leftover lunch policy, they are always the best ones. Throw together whatever is lingering, the crazier and more random sure will be the better!

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Enough chatting, let’s hop to it!

Romesco white bean dip

  • Servings: one big bowl full
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 1 tin of white beans (I used haricot)
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 red peppers
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree ( I had 2 tbsp of tinned cherry tomatoes that were leftover)
  • 1 tbsp sherry vinegar
  • 1 tbsp almond butter or a handful of almonds (roasting them would make it taste even better)
  • 1/2 dried ancho chilli (or 1/2 tsp chilli flakes)
  • 1/2 tsp picante smoked paprika (use 1 tsp of paprika if it’s not as strong)
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 good pinches of salt
  • small handful of fresh parsley

Directions

  1. Set the oven to 190C/170C fan. Place the peppers on a tray and put in the oven for up to 45 minutes until the skin is blackened and the peppers are soft. Set aside to cool.
  2. Meanwhile put the 1/2 ancho chilli in a mug and pour enough boiling water over to cover and leave to rehydrate.
  3. Once the peppers are cool enough to handle peel away the charred skins and remove the seeds and white membranes. Then put into a food processor.
  4. Place all the other ingredients along with the ancho chilli (not the water though) in the food processor and blitz until a smooth puree is formed.
  5. Taste and check for seasoning, salt, smokiness, acidity, spiciness and adjust as you like.
  6. Scoop into a serving bowl, garnish with extra parsley or store in a Tupperware where it will keep for around 5 days.

Have you got any favourite recipes from past holidays that you make on repeat at home? Maybe it’s the peri peri chicken from Portugal, a rabbit stew from Malta (that’s one that is on my list) a further flung pav bhaji from Mumbai or fava, one of my favourite Greek dishes that I still haven’t got round to cooking. Don’t you worry I’ll be in a yellow split pea frenzy by the time I’m back in my kitchen!

Enjoy the last of your summer!

X

 

Butterbean, macadamia and rosemary hummus

I remember my first time seeing hummus, having never eaten it or it being featured in our fridge, my thoughts weren’t leaning the same way as they are now. I remember being at my friend’s house, much younger, and seeing a tub of something  besides a bag of carrots. Now dips weren’t a part of my life as they are now, that does indeed mean no guac, hummus, baba ganoush, muhammara, salsa, tahini (I know it’s scandalous) perhaps the odd sighting of a sour cream and chive or some tzatziki. So coming across hummus, when I first tried it there was no convincing me. For young tastebuds only just developing away from chips and bread and butter, the savoury, garlicky tang of hummus didn’t do it for me.

I tried again possibly in my early teens, we had just bought a new blender and I found a recipe for homemade hummus. I thought, what could possibly go wrong, had a go, and remember it tasted a bit rubbish. Bland, chalky and just a bit meh. I’m sure that happened a few times, determined as I was to make it like the one you buy in shops, as I kept being told: ‘homemade is ALWAYS better than shop bought’. In my case that wasn’t true. A couple years later again, after week on week buying shop bought hummus (I had bought into the hype), I gave it one last shot. A simple cupboard raid recipe to use up that tahini after thinking it would be nice on porridge (another thing which hadn’t yet found a place in my heart) so in it went with all other common ingredients. Chickpeas, garlic, lemon, salt (lots of that), tahini, olive oil, a pinch of cumin and water to thin it out. Easy.

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Since that day as few years back, I’ve been making it to the same recipe ever since. I’ve had friends comment having the same experience as me, ‘I had a go at making hummus and it just wasn’t that great, so I gave up and bought some’.  Completely understandable, and you’ll probably think, as I did, that buying one is so much more efficient. Guaranteed it will taste right and no fiddly washing up. However shop bought dips contain so much more salt and fat than when whizzed up in your own food processor. If hummus is a daily thing on your plate or for a snack, changing it up a bit will benefit your pocket, tastebuds and waistline.

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Just make sure to keep a form of beans and any nut or seed butter in your cupboards, then you’re just two minutes away from a satisfying lunch or dinner or a friend for the lonely carrot in the bottom of your veg drawer. Even on Christmas morning, I was providing the starters for our dinner, and had a mini panic that I hadn’t made enough. I had prepared a salmon rillettes with mini toasts and crudités, but with the addition of a vegetarian to our family, a big bowl of hummus was surely on the cards. It always goes down well with a crowd and they will be really impressed if you’ve made it yourself.

Don’t get me wrong, when I’m travelling or away from home I can’t make my own so I always buy a shop bought. The best that I can afford. Look for one made with extra virgin olive oil or rapeseed oil rather than sunflower oil, and fresh garlic (not the powdered version), make sure it contains tahini and opt for organic if it’s within your price margin. Even in India I managed to buy hummus, it had lumps of black olives in and on first encounter I thought it had gone off, and it wasn’t that great but we all need that fix. And when in Greece, don’t expect to find any because hummus is most definitely not Greek. Fava will be your hero item on the menu, and a very good one too.

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Every time I make a batch, it lasts easily for a week in the fridge, but is usually licked clean within a few days. I also tend to change the type of bean and added flavours each time to keep things a bit new and exciting. If you want a traditional hummus, swap the butter beans for chickpeas and omit the Rosemary adding around 1/2 heaped teaspoon of ground cumin instead.

I had just used the food processor to make some roasted macadamia nut butter, so instead of washing the bowl I left some around the sides, stuck all the hummus ingredients on top and added another dollop for good measure. It made it even creamier than usual with a nice toasty flavour from the nuts. Of course they are expensive ingredients so feel free to use tahini, light or dark to your preference.

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Butter bean, macadamia and rosemary hummus

Ingredients

  • 1 tin or carton of butterbeans
  • 2 small cloves of garlic
  • 3 heaped tbsp macadamia nut butter (or tahini)
  • 5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • pinch of ground cumin
  • salt and pepper

Method

  1. Drain the butterbeans and rinse well, tip into a food processor along with all the other ingredients.
  2. Add a BIG pinch of salt
  3. Whizz up until it forms a paste and is completely smooth. Taste for seasoning then drizzle in cold water to thin the hummus out. Transfer to a bowl or Tupperware and serve.

 

May your hummus problems be for forever resolved, when you get it right it really does taste better than shop bought. Next time try mixing up the flavours, a swirl of harissa there, some turmeric and curry powder here, lemon zest and finely chopped coriander, pureed beetroot and some finely chopped dill, or some roasted carrots and cumin seeds. Hummus is such a great source of fibre from the beans, healthy fats, calcium from the tahini and antibacterial properties from the raw garlic. A real deal SUPERFOOD.

(Disclaimer, superfoods is just a selling ploy used by brands and supermarkets, hummus isn’t scientifically proven to be a superfood, it’s not going to bring you back from the dead or anything. However it is a food and it tastes pretty super so…).

 

Much love and happy dipping

X

Can I tempt you with some tahini

Many years ago now I first fell in love with peanut butter. I was quite late to the show, but think I have made up for it ever since. Yes it was packed with sugar and refined palm oils, and probably rhymed with ‘hippy’, I’m sure it was the exact same one that lured us all in in the first place. Gradually I discovered almond butter and cashew buter, then started making my own nut butters  (if you want a real treat make some macadamia buter, it will blow your mnd!).

A favourite foodie of mind, and I’m sure he features on most peoples’ cookbook shelves, Yotam Ottolenghi, now he was the one who led me to discover tahini. I’m going to have to admit, I wasn’t much of a fan. Eating peanut butter by the spoonful, now there’s no need to ask. However tahini, I found it too bitter. Sesame seeds have this rich smokiness that you grow to love.

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A jar of golden goodness

 

As I scrolled through Instagram, seeing countless posts from nutritionists and dietitians smothering tahini on EVERYTHING. Toast, spread it with tahini. Roast sprouts, dip ’em in tahini. Porridge, drizzle with tahini. Medjool dates, stuff them with tahini. Your arm, dip it in tahini (I definitely made that one up, please don’t go dipping your arms in tahini, I cant imagine it would be the easiest thing to clean up). But I just couldn’t do it.

Determined as I was, I made a vow to myself to learn to love it. And love it, now I do.

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I’ve been buying either the dark or light tahini by a brand called Meridian for a while and then making my own nut butter, but never made my own tahini. God knows why, it’s so flippin’ easy.

So here’s a recipe, kinda not recipe, for tahini. There’s not much to it. All you need is a fairly strong food processor, preferably a Vitamix (oh a girl can dream). But I have an old Kenwood food processor, it’s older than me (and I’m 20) and that does the job just nicely. Just expect to leave it running for up to 20 minutes. It gets bloody noisy, just grin and bear it, the end product is so so worth it!

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And here’s the beauty shot

 

 

The type of sesame seeds you use here will affect the flavour, black sesame seeds are sweeter, perhaps the colour is slightly off putting for some. The ebony black hue makes me love it even more, as they say black foods are the ultimate superfoods. The unhulled sesame seeds will make it slightly darker coloured, slightly more bitter (maybe just for the tahini aficionado), and the hulled will have the flavour you’re used to when bought from the supermarket. Half and half is a good route to go down, and that’s what I did here.

 

Ingredients

  • At least 1 cup Sesame seeds (hulled, unhulled or black)
  • salt

Yep that’s it, I haven’t forgotten to type out half the recipe. The food processor does all the magic.

Method

  1. Heat the oven to 180ºC/160ºC fan.
  2. Put your sesame seeds in a metal tin and place in the oven, leave until they are lightly golden and they smell toasty. Keep checking and stirring to make sure they colour evenly.
  3. Tip into your food processor, pop on the lid and start whizzing. The seeds like to crawl up the sides of the processor, so keep going back to it every few minutes and scrape down the sides.
  4. The sesame seeds will look like they’ll never get there but keep on going, suddenly the oils will release and you’ll have some liquid sesame lusciousness.
  5. When the tahini has formed a paste, the same texture as nut butter, add a good pinch of salt and blend for a minute longer.
  6. Pour into a jar and keep in the fridge, and there it will be waiting for those spoon dunkings.

It may seem a lot more effort than it’s worth when you can buy a jar without any of the hassle. But a bit of DIY always ends up cheaper, and what else would you rather be doing on a lazy sunday, Netflix can wait!

X

 

 

Black truffle and chilli hummus

No matter how much I love cooking and want to cook at home, there comes a time when it’s necessary to let your palate experience new flavours, and also myself get inspired. Recently my imagination hasn’t been too wild. Usually I have ideas springing up left right and centre. New concepts I’ve seen on blogs, or on restaurant menus, ways of preparing ingredients I’ve not tried before. I have my little notebook for the MUST COOK things, and dishes to also recreate. 

At the moment, there seems to be nothing happening in that creative side of my brain. Maybe it’s a change in season,but I seem to be stuck on the same day to day bandwagon. Typically one that involves, avocado, sweet potato, hummus, tomatoes, salad, quinoa. Peas if I have them, because they are just the tastiest little morsels. Neither my mum nor my dad like peas so I was never fed them as a child. There was a pea ban in our house. How very wrong. I like to think that now I’m making up for that over the past few years by eating them possibly everyday. (Aaaandddd sneaking them into the food I cook for my parents, mum no longer ‘hates’ them, RESULT!!) 

Don’t get me wrong, that situation ain’t too bad. Anything that involves hummus just gets elevated to, ‘that’s what I’m talking about’, flavour town!!

Guilty!! I’m having to declare that i dont always make my hummus. But who can carry a food processor round in a suitcase? If there’s anyone out there willing to show me how I’m open for ideas. Until then, bought it is. I always try to buy the best quality one I can find, preferably organic, using rapeseed or extra virgin olive oil and no added nasties. The ingredients list should say: chickpeas, tahini, garlic, salt, olive oil. And not much else. 

‘Is that all that goes into hummus?!?’ I hear you cry. Why yes. It’s so simple, can be whizzed up in minutes and by adding different spices, herbs, vegetables you can change the flavour up. Not getting bored of it now are we!

I was having a good scrolling marathon on Instagram the other day, when I saw a post from a cafe I’ve recently visited in London called Saladpride. I’m always racking my brains and Pinterest trying to think of new combinations, hoping for that winner. I think I may have found it.

Not from my mind, so maybe I shouldn’t be taking full responsibility, but I’m sure it’s not a world first, everyone takes ideas from other people that’s how we develop and expand.

Truffle and chilli hummus. 

I love how your attention was swiftly diverted back to this post. 

After spending my weeks holiday in Croatia, obviously I picked up a jar (or two) of truffles. One black and one white. Mixed with other mushrooms, the black one with olives and capers too and the white with cream and Parmesan. Anyone else thinking spread the White one on avo on toast, or is it just me?!?!

I added a good few dollops of the black truffle paste into my hummus, it gives a deep earthy flavour, and a good pinch of chilli flakes for a nice warmth. You’ll want to add this to your hummus flavour rotation, even if you only ever make it plain, please change that today. Get your your food processor and give it a whizz!!

I’ve realised that we probably don’t all collect food items from abroad and truffle paste might not be something you can find on your bog standard supermarket shelf. Perhaps substitute some of the oil with truffle oil instead. Don’t overdo it though, truffle is powerful stuff!
Black truffle and chilli hummus

Ingredients

  • 1 can chickpeas (preferably organic and the can bpa free)
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 3 heaped tbsp of tahini 
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 5 tbsp rapeseed oil or EVOO
  • 1 – 2 heaped tsp of black truffle paste
  • Good pinch of chilli flakes
  • Cayenne to sprinkle on top

Method

  1. Drain your chickpeas and rinse them before putting in the food processor
  2. Peel the cloves of garlic and put in with the chickpeas and the tahini
  3. Blend until everything is fully combined and no longer chunky
  4. Add all the other ingredients and blend again till really smooth. Add water a little at a time until it’s at a dollopy consistency and add a couple of pinches of sea salt, more truffle and/or chilli if you wish. 
  5. Scrape into a bowl to serve, sprinkle on extra chilli flakes and some cayenne if you like a kick and a drizzle of some more oil
  6. Serve as a dip with crudités, crackers, pitta, roast sweet potato wedges, with your salad, on a burger, sandwich, or as I do eaten with a spoon. 

I really do hope you make this one. I’ve made many a variety of hummus (is there a plural, hummi???) but this one beats them all hands down.

Happy dipping!!

X