We’ve had a great group of guests this week who have been requesting a number of my recipes and so I promised to do my best to get them onto this somewhat neglected blog (not easy to find the time when I am often working 70 hours a week). The first of these was a trio of dips I served for lunch, alongside a roasted oyster mushroom and greed salad and bread. Dips can be a great way of using up leftover vegetables or pulses. You can be creative and the recipes below do not need to be followed strictly to the letter – you could always play around with substituting different vegetables, seasoning or herbs.
My Tirokafteri recipe (gf):
This is a Greek spicy red pepper and feta dip. I have come across several variations and recipes, most of which go heavy on the feta. I wanted to cut down the feta content because things can get a little too cheesy in Greece. I have to say I prefer this version as it’s not quite as it’s a little lighter. For a vegan version you can replace the feta with walnuts.
5 red peppers
1 small red onion
3 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
50g of feta (vegan version with 50g of lightly roasted walnuts)
1 small red chilli
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
2 tablespoons of olive oil
salt and pepper
Handful of basil leaves (for garnish)
Pre-heat oven to 220c. Cut up the peppers into chunky 2 inch sized pieces, removing the seeds. Peel the onion and cut it up into 6 pieces. Cut the garlic cloves in half, leaving them unpeeled. Place the peppers, onion, garlic and whole chilli on a baking tray and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, salt and pepper. Place in the oven for approximately 30-35 minutes in total, taking out half-way through to mix the vegetables. Take the vegetables out after they have started to caramelise and slightly burn. Leave the vegetables to cool slightly. Remove the stem of the chilli and remove the skins from the garlic. Place the roasted peppers, onion, garlic and chilli (and walnuts if using) in a food processor. Add the balsamic vinegar, lemon juice and rest of the olive oil and blitz. Add the feta and blitz again, but not for too long as you still want it to be a little chunky. Season with more salt and pepper if needed. You may also wish to add more balsamic. Transfer to a serving bowl. Garnish with some basil leaves.
Serves 6 to 8 as a starter alongside other dishes
White bean, lemon and mint dip (v, gf)
You can use any white beans for this dip, such as black eyed beans, cannelinni or butter beans. My favourite is cannelinni. Just make sure the beans are well cooked (if using dried). I have suggested a cooking method for the beans here that reduces their gassiness (important when you are feeding yogis!). Although my preference is for dried beans, tinned are also fine if you can’t be bothered with the palavar of soaking and cooking the beans.
100g of dried cannellini beans (butter beans and black eyed beans also work well but you will need to vary cooking instructions accordingly) or 400g tinned beans of choice
2 tablespoons of fresh mint, chopped plus extra to garnish
1 tablespoon of fresh parsley, chopped
Juice of 1 lemon
3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
If using dried beans, leave them to soak in water overnight. The next day drain the beans, pour over boiling water, and boil for 10 minutes. Leave in the water for 2 hours. Drain and then pour water twice the volume of water over the beans, bring to the boil and simmer for approximately 70 minutes (or according to packet instructions). Once beans are cooked (they should be fairly soft) drain and rinse with cold water. Place in a food processor alongside the rest of the ingredients. Blitz until you have a smooth paste. Season with a generous amount of salt and pepper and blitz again. You may wish to add more lemon juice or mint. Place in a serving bowl and garnish with a few mint leaves and olive oil.
Serves 8 as a starter alongside other dishes
Beetroot dip (gf)
I have taken this recipe from Ottolenghi and Tami’s Jerusalem, which is one of my favourite cookbooks. This has been an all-round popular dish on the retreat and goes really well with stuffed courgette flowers (recipe for these coming soon!). When making this for yogis, I often skip the garlic, as raw garlic is said not to be so good for digestion. I have also used molasses instead of date syrup as the latter isn’t available here.
900g of medium beetroot, tops removed
2 garlic cloves crushed (optional)
1 small red chilli de-seeded and finely chopped
350g of Greek yogurt (for a vegan version replace with 250g of plain vegan yogurt or skip out altogether)
1 and a half tbsp of date syrup or molasses
3 tbsp of olive oil
1 tbsp of za’atar
15g of toasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped (optional)
Pre-heat oven to 200c. Wash beetroot and place in a roasting tray. Cook in the oven until a knife slides easily through (approximately 50-70 minutes depending on the size of the beetroot). Once they are cool enough to handle peel and cut into 1inch sized pieces. Once cool place in the food processor alongside the garlic, chilli and yogurt. Blend into a smooth paste. Remove to a bowl and stir through the olive oil, za’atar, date syrup and a teaspoon of salt. You may wish to add more salt and/or za’atar (I normally end up using 2 tbsp). Transfer to a serving plate. At this point Ottolenghi likes to add chopped hazlenuts, thinly sliced spring onion, crumbled soft goats cheese and a drizzle of olive oil. I skip out the onion because I dislike the way raw onion repeats on you! The hazelnuts and goats cheese work well although are by no means a necessity, especially if you are already using cheese or nuts in other dishes. I do always drizzle with olive oil though and a sprinkle of za-atar.
Serves 8 as a starter alongside other dishes