Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Red Pepper Hummus & Taramasalata

This is the best time of year for snacky things - little plates of bits and pieces scattered about and bowls of smooth creamy dips to go with crisp raw celery and carrots and hot puffs of pitta bread. I love the way christmas is accepted as reason enough to eat and drink almost continuously for days. But it doesn't hurt to apply a little wisdom to the consumption and the construction of what will be eaten - if only so that you can continue the pleasure for longer.

For this reason dips are one of my favourite things - they tend to be quick and easy to make, look pretty in a bowl, last for a few days (unless they are so good that they are eaten immediately!) and can be eaten with raw vegetables which tend to be healthy and add a nice crunch in your mouth.

Both hummus and taramasalata recipes abound - and the shelves of every kind of food shop groans with the weight of the pre made tubs of sort of the same thing. I confess to having had a serious penchant for the bright pink variety of taramasalata when I first came to London. Available in little corner shops, as was packets of pitta bread to heat up to eat with it, I consumed huge amounts of it and loved every mouthful. Then one day I tried the real thing, pale and creamy, and realised it was time to move on. The fickleness of young love.

These two recipes are both very easy to make, not to mention far cheaper than anything you can buy ready made - and the hummus can be whipped up in no time from stuff in the cupboard, assuming you have a tin of chickpeas and a jar of roasted peppers lurking in there somewhere. It comes from Gordon Ramsay's Christmas suggestions for The Times.

Roasted Pepper Hummus

2 red peppers from a jar of roasted peppers or piquillo - or use two fresh red peppers, grilled and skinned
400g tin chickpeas, rinsed and drianed
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
Juice of half a lemon
2 tbspn tahini (ground sesame seed paste)
50g pine nuts, toasted to golden
100ml extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Roughly chop the roasted peppers and put into a food processor. Add chickpeas, garlic, lemon and zest, tahini and pine nuts. Start to blitz then slowly pour in the oil, motor running, till it is all incorporated. Keep blending till you have a smooth terracotta paste. Season and chill. Serve with celery, carrots and warm pitta.


1 slice of stale white bread, crusts removed
200g/7 oz smoked cod's roe, soaked overnight in cold water
1 large clove garlic, crushed
240ml/8 fl oz olive oil
juice of 1 or 2 lemons
black pepper

Remove the roe from the soaking water then peel the skin off - it is a bit like a salami skin so just catch the edge of it with a knife and tug till it all comes off. It will immediately look more appetising. Wet the bread and squeeze it out then put it into a blender with the roe and garlic. Blitz, adding a thin stream of oil. If the dip becomes too stiff loosen it with some cold water. When you have the consistency you want, add the juice of one lemon, taste, then add more if you need it. Season with ground black pepper and serve with warm pitta bread and sticks of celery to scoop it up.


pdtnc said...

Hi... we made this Hummous along with two other varieties a few weeks ago, it turned out really nice, so Thanks :)

I dare say we will be trying some more of your creations :)

bron said...

Glad you enjoyed it - has become a regular with me, quick, easy, fabulous - my kind of food