Open my fridge door and you’ll find a dip or maybe two, particularly since I started my new regime. Aside from being delicious, dips have a multitude of uses. Served with crudités they make a quick lunch after my morning ride, they add oomph to a salad baguette, a baked potato……..you get the general idea.
Hummus hit the headlines a few years ago when Les Miserables star Anne Hathaway claimed to have lost weight by eating it with radishes. Anne, honestly, I eat hummus all the time with radishes and I’ve not lost any weight. Anne, level with me – you just ate the radishes, didn’t you?
So here are my recipes for a duo of dips:
1. Reserve a few whole chickpeas for garnish. Blitz the rest in a food processor or blender with the crushed confit garlic, tahini paste, lemon juice and water until you have a smooth, soft mixture, not dissimilar to cake batter.
2. Season to taste with the salt and pepper. I typically use 1 tsp salt and ½ tsp of pepper but it’s all down to individual taste.
3. Using a rubber spatula, scrape all the hummus from the mixer bowl into a serving dish.
4. Decorate with the whole chick peas, a dusting of paprika and a drizzle of virgin olive oil.
5. Serve with warmed pitta bread, bread sticks and/or crudités – including radishes – a la Anne Hathaway.
1. Now if you’re going to be following the Hathaway diet you might as well cook the chickpeas from dried in bulk:
Soak 500g (1lb) of dried chickpeas overnight in twice their volume of cold water to which you add 1 tbsp of bicarbonate of soda. The following day drain and rinse the chickpeas, add ½ tbsp of bicarbonate of soda to twice the volume of water as the chick peas. Bring to the boil, add a piece of dried Kombu (optional), partly cover, turn down to a gentle simmer, skim, and cook for 2-3 hours until soft. Add more hot water, if necessary, during the cooking process to ensure the chickpeas remain immersed in water. Remove the piece of Kombu, drain the chick peas, retaining some of the cooking liquid to use instead of water in the recipe above.
2. If you’re wondering what to do with the remaining chickpeas why not make Spiced Chickpeas to serve either as a side dish with grilled fish or meat or as tasty pre-dinner nibbles. This recipe is courtesy of my local Moroccan restaurant:
Drain 350g (14 oz) of cooked or tinned chickpeas and dry them on kitchen paper. Mix together 2 tbsp of olive oil with two crushed fat cloves of garlic and pour over the beans, ensuring they’re all well covered. Roast them in a single layer on a baking sheet in a pre-heated hot oven 230°C/210°C fan/gas mark 8 (450°F/410°F fan) for 10-15 minutes. Remove from the oven, drain on kitchen paper then roll them in a mixture of 1 tsp of freshly ground cumin, ¼-½ tsp of chilli (to taste), 1 tsp of sea salt and ½ tsp of freshly ground black pepper.
3. To get a really smooth hummus you’ll need to take the skin off each and every chick pea! Only do this if you want to impress the hell out of someone.
4. To confit the garlic cloves, just cook gently in olive oil until they’re soft and squidgy. Save and re-use the garlic tasting olive oil. Alternatively, bake a whole bulb of garlic in the oven wrapped in aluminium foil and squeeze out three cooked cloves. I find raw garlic often gives an acrid flavour to the hummus while roasting or confiting makes it much mellower and sweeter.
This is another perennial favourite which I often turn into a side dish with the addition of chopped, skinned and deseeded cucumber and a large handful of halved cherry tomatoes.
Ingredients (serves four cyclists as a starter, three if you turn it into a side salad)
1. Dry roast the aubergines in a preheated oven on 185°C /165°C fan/gas mark 4 (350°F/330°F fan) for 30 minutes until the skins blacken. This is vital otherwise the finished dish won’t have that all-important smoky flavour.
2. Remove from oven, split the skin and scoop out the flesh into a sieve over a bowl. Allow the aubergine to cool slightly and disgorge any liquid.
3. Roughly chop the aubergine flesh and add the tahini paste, molasses, lemon juice, garlic and 3 tbsp of chopped parsley. If you’re not using the pomegranate molasses substitute with 1 tbsp of lemon juice.
4. Taste and, if necessary, adjust the seasoning.
5. Pile into a serving dish, drizzle with a little oil and scatter the remaining parsley and pomegranate seeds (optional) on top.
6. Serve with whatever you fancy to scoop up the delicious charred flesh. Alternatively add a handful of halved cherry tomatoes and half a skinned, deseeded and chopped cucumber and eat with grilled meat. I eat mine with a grilled veal chop.
1. If I’m using it as a dip rather than a side dish, I might add some toasted crushed cumin seeds and some more crushed garlic.
2. If I’m having the dish with some roast or grilled lamb, I might substitute 2 tbsp of mint for two of parsley.
Ideally you should prepare the guacamole just before you’re planning to eat it though I often make it in advance and pop it into the fridge for later. The addition of fresh lime juice means its zingy, fresh taste cuts through the richness of the ripe avocado. There are almost as many recipes for this dish as there are Mexicans, but here’s my take on it.
1. Blitz the coriander stalks, tomato, onions, garlic, chilli, salt and pepper in a blender. If you prefer your guacamole a bit milder, remove the seeds from the chilli first.
2. Halve the avocados, discard the stone and remove the flesh from the skin with a teaspoon handle and swirl in the freshly squeezed lime juice, to prevent the flesh from turning black. Yes, I know we’ve all seen the domestic goddess that is Nigella Lawson brandishing one of those lime squeezy plastic bottles but DON’T do it. You’ll thank me later, as only fresh lime juice imparts that oh-so-necessary zingy taste. Gently mash the avocados with a fork. You want them broken up, not smashed to a pulp.
3. Pour the contents of the blender into the avocados and gently mix. Taste and, if necessary, adjust the seasonings.
4. Chop the coriander leaves and mix most into the guacamole, pile it into a serving dish and scatter the remaining leaves as a garnish on top.
5. It’s ready to serve with whatever you have to hand but I do concede plain corn chips are probably the best. Now, where did I put the rest of those radishes?
1. Guacamole is another one of those dishes that you can play around with. The only golden rule is to use ripe avocados and fresh limes!
2. If you can’t find any fresh chillis, and I often can’t, use 1/2 tsp of Thai bottled red chilli paste.
3. In the highly unlikely event that you have any left over, cover the surface of the guacamole with cling film (plastic wrap) and pop it into the fridge. It’ll happily stay fresh and green for a few days more.
4. The hummus will also rest happily in the fridge for a few days in a sealed container. As you can see, I also like it atop a baked potato!
5. Keep all the squeezed lemon and lime halves in the fridge and pop them one by one into the dishwasher to impart a nice fresh scent.