Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Beetroot hummus with charred dippers

It's way too hot to stick anything in the oven right now, so instead I'm not ashamed to say I fantasized about beetroot hummus for most of Tuesday.

Beet hummus is a great way of brightening up some aperitifs or grab-and-go dinners, and is much lighter than regular hummus so you don't need to worry about filling up before a show-stopping main course. The deep pink shade of hummus coupled with the oily wrap dippers make a perfect understated entrance for guests and is refreshing enough to serve mid-heatwave.

I would team this with some giant green olives on ice and some herb toasted almonds, or just a few cold wheat beers and plenty of the dipper wraps pictured above and below.

Makes enough for four as a dip
4 beetroots, peeled and cut into quarters
1 tin of chickpeas, drained
2 garlic cloves, chopped small
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tbsp tahini
Juice of one lemon
Olive oil to taste

Plus flour wraps to serve

Boil the beetroot in salted water until they are soft and can be pierced with a fork. Once cooked, chop into smaller pieces to make it easier to blend.

In a large mixing bowl, add the chickpeas, garlic cloves, cumin, tahini and lemon juice, along with the chopped beetroot. Using a hand blender or mixer if you have one, blend until smooth. The consistency will be lighter than normal hummus, so don't be worried if it isn't as thick. Add olive oil and seasoning to taste once you've blended, and set aside.

For the charred dippers, use a griddle pan to fry flour wraps on a high heat with olive oil for a few seconds (about 10) on each side. Then chop into quarters or eighths and get scooping!

Saturday, 20 July 2013

BBQ sessions: Sweet potato and lime falafel with plantain and lime and coriander hummus

The only thing funnier than British people moaning about the heat is British people moaning about moaning the heat. Rest assured, this blog is a no-moan zone. Why moan when you can eat falafel?

These sweet potato and lime falafels are uber easy and perfect for making in advance for a BBQ. They also use a lot less flour and oil than other versions that are fried. They're very soft when straight out the oven, but leave them for half an hour or so to cool and they firm up, and proved the perfect summer accompaniment to my packed lunch! Heck, they survived a 7 mile cycle into work- these things are a falafel miracle.

Makes enough for four servings

For the falafel:
1 large or 2 medium sweet potatoes
1 tsp ground cumin
2 garlic cloves, chopped small
1 handful fresh coriander
Juice of 1 lime
100g plain flour
1 tbsp oil

Heat the oven to 200C. Wrap the sweet potatoes in kitchen roll and microwave for 8-10 minutes, until they are cooked the whole way through (you can check with a fork). Allow to cool for a minute or two before taking off their skins, which you should be able to do with your fingers.

Add to a large mixing bowl with the cumin, garlic, coriander, lime juice, flour and a little seasoning, and mash until smooth. Using a teaspoon, shape the potato mix into falafel-sized balls, I usually get around 16-20 out of a batch. Depending on the consistency, you can add a little oil to make the mixture wetter, or chose to leave it out.

Place on a greased oven tray and bake for around 30 minutes. They are very soft whilst baking so I would resist the temptation to try and turn them and just let them cook through.

While they are cooking, slice the ends of the plantain and vertically score one side of each from tip to top. Wrap up the plantain tight with foil and stick it towards the bottom of the oven, to cook alongside the falafel, or prepare now and save to cook on the BBQ.

For the lime and coriander hummus, follow this Guac & Roll hummus recipe, but  instead of lemon juice, pomegranate seeds and paprika, add lime juice and stick with the coriander.

The falafel and plantain should be ready at the same time, so either allow to cool and pack up for a BBQ or begin stacking into pitta breads for a quick, light lunch in the sunshine, sans moan!

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Superhero food: Roasted hazelnut, pomegranate and radish salad

Radishes make me really happy. There, I said it. I love the colour pop, I love the spicy crunch and I love their tree-trunk pattern. They're also a great source of that infamous vitamin B6 everyone keeps asking me about. I teamed up them with hazelnuts, which are also rich in protein and a load of other B vitamins, but mainly because I love the taste of hazelnuts that lingers between sweet and savoury, which is made even more apparent when toasting. Pile 'em on fellas and get crunching!

I made this salad for brunch with soft polenta, roasted mushrooms and grilled tomatoes. I also added some pomegranate molasses for a dressing but I think it works just as well left plain and extra refreshing.

Makes enough for four as a side dish

200g hazelnuts
1 handful of radishes
2 inches cucumber
Pomegrante seeds from half a pomegranate
Different types of salad leaves

In a dry pan, toast the hazelnuts on a low heat for about 3-5 minutes. You'll know when they are ready as they will start to brown and you will be able to smell the oil from the nuts toasting.

Keeping an eye on the nuts, slice the radishes and cucumber and arrange with the salad leaves. Sprinkle the pomegranate seeds on top.

Roughly chop the nuts- leaving some whole, and place over the salad, mixing a little to make sure all the good stuff doesn't roll to the bottom if you're using a salad bowl.

Serve with warm polenta, juicy mushrooms or just the pomegranate molasses for a tasty wake-up call.