3 easy dip recipes: Hummus, Lentil and Beetroot

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Hummus and Lentil Dip

I love nibbly picky food, which is probably why I love dips. I love easy to make dips as well, AND knowing what’s in them, since so many dips these days are getting all very gourmet with cashews and parmesan and all these things that don’t agree with me in them…

One of my favourite things is when friends drop in for a drink and knowing that I can quickly whip up some dips with what’s in our cupboard. And rice crackers are always in there too.

These three dips are my staples, and can all be made with tinned ingredients, or the key ingredients can be cooked from scratch, but to be honest, the tinned versions are very, very good. And the quicker they’re ready, the quicker I’m back socialising and enjoying them!

Beetroot Dip

This dip always goes down a treat. In fact, there was none left to photograph…

Ingredients:

  • Tin of sliced or whole baby beets (can also use home roasted beetroot, but the tinned ones have a nice sweetness to them)
  • Garlic (I LOVE garlic, and am told I tend to put a bit too much in… I figure if we all have it tho, we’re fine! Use as much as you’re comfortable with tho, 1-2 cloves minimum)
  • 1-2 teaspoons cumin (to taste)
  • Cracked pepper and rock salt (to taste)

Seriously, that’s it.

If you can tolerate it, you can also stir through a tablespoon or 2 of natural yoghurt at the end.

Method:

  1. Drain the beetroot (if using tinned), place in a container that’s suitable for blending (e.g. a tall jug if using a hand held blitzer thingy, or if using a food processor, in the food processor).
  2. Peel and roughly chop the garlic cloves, and add to bowl of beetroots, along with the cumin, salt and pepper.
  3. Blend with the food processor or the hand held blitzer thingy. I was given my blitzer by my old crazy neighbour Greg* when he got a proper food processor and it’s great for this type of use.
  4. Blend until all ingredients are mixed, but I prefer to leave it with a bit of texture.
  5. As mentioned above, add a tablespoon or 2 of natural yoghurt (e.g. sheep’s milk yoghurt) at the end for a creamy texture.
  6. Serve in a bowl, garnished with some fresh parsley leaves, and accompanied with gluten free rice crackers, vegetable sticks etc.

*Not to be confused with Old Greg from The Mighty Boosh.

Lentil Dip

This dip is my fiance’s new fav…

Ingredients:

  • Tin of lentils (can also cook red lentils in the stock, but this is the easy version)
  • Half a red onion, finely chopped
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic (or as much as you’re comfortable with)
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley leaves
  • 1-2 teaspoons (gluten and dairy free) vegetable stock (to taste)
  • 1-2 teaspoons cumin (to taste)
  • Cracked pepper and rock salt (to taste)
  • Olive oil

Method:

  1. Drain and rinse the lentils (if using tinned), place in a container that’s suitable for blending (as above).
  2. Peel and roughly chop the garlic cloves, and add to bowl of lentils, along with the onion, parsley, stock, cumin, salt, pepper, and 1 tablespoon of olive oil to begin with.
  3. Blend with the food processor or the hand held blitzer thingy.
  4. Once you’ve done the initial blend, you can taste and adjust as required, e.g. extra olive oil if dry, stock, cumin etc, to your tastes.
  5. Blend until all ingredients are mixed, again, I prefer to leave it with a bit of texture.
  6. Serve in a bowl, garnished with some fresh parsley leaves, and accompanied with gluten free rice crackers, vegetable sticks etc.

Hummus

To be honest, I haven’t found a great combination/balance for hummus yet, and the above two dips are my preferred ones. We tend to always have chickpeas in the cupboard though, making this one a good option. I once had a bought hummus made from cannellini beans and am keen to try making that. Will let you know how it goes.

This is the best combination for hummus I’ve found so far, happy to hear your version though…

Ingredients:

  • Tin of chick peas
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic (or as much as you’re comfortable with)
  • 3 or so tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons tahini paste (ground sesame seeds)
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1-2 teaspoons cumin (to taste)
  • Cracked pepper and rock salt (to taste, if required/desired)
  • Cayenne pepper (to garnish, if desired)

Method:

  1. Drain and rinse the chickpeas, place in a container that’s suitable for blending (as above).
  2. Peel and roughly chop the garlic cloves, and add to bowl of chickpeas, along with the olive oil, tahini, lemon juice and cumin.
  3. Blend with the food processor or the hand held blitzer thingy.
  4. Once you’ve done the initial blend, you can taste and adjust as required, e.g. extra olive oil if dry, salt and pepper, cumin etc, to your tastes.
  5. Blend until all ingredients are mixed.
  6. Serve in a bowl, garnished with a drizzle* of olive oil and a sprinkling of cayenne pepper, and accompanied with gluten free rice crackers, vegetable sticks etc.

And enjoy!

*How good a word is “drizzle”!?

Pumpkin and chickpea flour muffins

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This is another recipe from the My New Roots Holiday Reader Recipe Challenge PDF download on the My New Roots food blog and was submitted by Jana of the Jana Round The World food blog.

I think it will become my own “Julie & Julia”-esque challenges to try every recipe in this collation.

This recipe caught my eye as I tend to miss out on baked goods, and love both pumpkin and besam – or chickpea flour.

It also made a good filler while I was making the time consuming (but oh so worth it) vegetarian moussaka.

I have to admit. These were not the most awesome thing I have ever made. They were interesting, and made for a good, savoury snack. I will try them again sometime, but might mix up the flavours somewhat.

Pumpkin and chickpea flour muffins

Makes 8 muffins

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 cups of grated pumpkin (the more pumpkin, the more moist the muffins. I used jap pumpkin)
  • 1.5 cups besam (or chickpea flour, also referred to as “gram”)
  • 2 tablespoons mustard seeds
  • 2 tablespoons flax seeds
  • 1/2 tablespoon cayenne pepper (yes, this much, it does make them spicy, so if you’re not into hot foods, reduce the amount)
  • pinch of sea salt and ground black pepper to season
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder (optional, I haven’t tried this yet)
  • 5-6 tablespoons coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder (gluten free)
  • raw pepitas or sunflower seeds to decorate the top (optional)

Method:

  1. Clean and grate the pumpkin, then combine with the besam.
  2. Add the seeds, spices, coconut milk, oil and baking powder, and combine.
  3. If required, add some water to assist with the mixing.
  4. Place the mixture in a greased muffin tin.
  5. Sprinkle the pepitas or sunflower seeds on the top of the raw muffins.
  6. Leave for 1 hour before baking! (I’m not sure why, but this is what the recipe said).
  7. Preheat the oven to 200˙C.
  8. Bake at this temperature for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 100˙C and bake for a further 20 minutes until cooked through.
  9. Remove tray from oven, and leave for a few minutes before removing the muffins from the tray and cooling on a wire rack.

As you can probably tell from the ingredients, these muffins are very spicy and savoury, making them a great, healthy snack.

The grated pumpkin is so bright and pretty!

Grated pumpkin

Before…

Pumpkin and chickpea flour muffins waiting to be baked…

And… after!

The baked pumpkin and chickpea flour muffins

Vegetarian moussaka

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Need to get better with my photos… can promise it tastes better than it looks tho.

I first came across this recipe when my fiance and I were seeing how we would go being vegetarian for a couple of weeks (we were fine).

I found this recipe on allrecipes.com.au. The description says: “This recipe always gets rave reviews from vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike.” And it’s so true. I’ve just made it again today at his request, though we’re not pretending to be vegetarian at the moment.

Moussaka also holds a special meaning for us, as my fiance was actually going out to get take away moussaka the night we met. Okay, there was a little more too it than just that, but it was part of it. Just imagine if I were part Greek instead of part Italian! That would be funny – although some may say politically incorrect – but it’s my food blog, story and life, so I’m saying it.

This is another recipe I’ve obviously adapted. Fortunately I can tolerate sheep and goat’s milk cheese, so I can still enjoy it’s cheesy goodness. If you want to see the original recipe, it is here.

If you can’t tolerate sheep or goat’s milk… sorry!

This recipe also takes some time to make, so prepare yourself. I made pumpkin and chickpea flour muffins at the same time.

Vegetarian moussaka

Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 1 large eggplant, thinly sliced
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large zucchini, thinly sliced
  • 2 potatoes, thinly sliced
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped (I always double the garlic, at least)
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 tin (440g) whole peeled tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 tin (440g) lentils, drained, juice reserved (the original recipe suggets half a tin, but I prefer more lentils)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 125g crumbled feta cheese (sheep or goat’s)
And for the white sauce:
  • 30g dairy free spread, such as Nuttelex
  • 2 tablespoons gluten free cornflour
  • 1 1/4 cups (315ml) dairy free milk (I prefer rice milk for cooking, it provides the required consistency and effect without an overpowering flavour)
  • black pepper to taste
  • 1 pinch ground nutmeg
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 30g (¼ cup) grated hard sheet or goat’s cheese, such as pecorino

Method:

  1. Sprinkle eggplant slices with salt and set aside for 30 minutes. Rinse and pat dry.
    If you’ve ever wondered why it’s suggested to salt eggplant, it removes the eggplant juice, making it dryer and so it fries better. Or as the Italians say, it “draws out the bitter waters…” See the photos below.
  2. Preheat oven to 190˙C.
  3. Heat oil in a large frypan over medium-high heat. I like to use my big electric fry pan.
  4. Lightly brown the eggplant and zucchini slices on both sides, then drain.
  5. Add more oil if necessary, and brown the potato slices, drain.
  6. Saute the onion and garlic until lightly browned.
  7. Pour in vinegar and reduce the mixture.
  8. Stir in the tomatoes, lentils, ½ the juice from lentils, oregano and parsley.
  9. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer for 15 minutes. I do this at the same time as I’m waiting for the eggplant and browning the vegetables. It’s a bit of a juggling act…
  10. In a large casserole dish, layer the eggplant, zucchini, potatoes, and feta.
  11. Pour the tomato and lentil mixture over the vegetable layer.
  12. Repeat the layering process, finishing with a layer of eggplant and zucchini.
  13. Cover and bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes.
  14. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine the Nuttelex, cornflour and rice milk.
  15. Bring to a slow boil, whisking constantly until thick and smooth.
  16. Season with the pepper and add the nutmeg.
  17. Remove the saucepan from heat, cool for 5 minutes, and stir in the beaten egg.
  18. Pour sauce over vegetables and sprinkle with the pecorino.
  19. Bake, uncovered, for another 25 to 30 minutes.
  20. Serve with green salad, like rocket. Love rocket.

Salting the eggplants, see how much moisture it extracts!?

Grilled potato and zucchini…

The lovely tomato and lentil sauce, this smells divine…

The final product! (was clearly late once it had finished and as such the lighting for photos wasn’t great…)

Sweet potato gnocchi

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The raw gnocchi…

Pan frying the little parcels of goodness…

The final product with our lamb ragu… it didn’t last long…

I love gnocchi.

It’s one of the few meals I made with my Nonna, and wish I had learnt more of her specialties when I had the chance.

Since discovering my intolerance to gluten, it’s not something I’ve been able to partake upon frequently (it is also very time consuming, so even before then I didn’t make it often…)

I made a regular gluten free potato gnocchi a few months ago, and it was divine… I think it was actually better for the fine gluten free flour. Lighter. Softer. Like little pillows of deliciousness. Mmmm…

I came across this recipe for sweet potato gnocchi in the My New Roots Holiday Reader Recipe Challenge PDF download on the My New Roots food blog (an awesome healthy food blog I was put onto by a colleague). This particular recipe was submitted by Clare of the Blueberry Skies food blog.

What appealed to me (apart from the use of sweet potato, which I love!) was that they are cooked by lightly frying them, rather than boiling.

I’ve adapted the recipe slightly, just replacing the spelt flour with gluten free flour. While spelt flour is non-wheat, it is not gluten free.

Sweet Potato Gnocchi

Makes about 4 serves (depending on how big an appetite you have…)

Ingredients:

  • 2 sweet potatoes
  • 1-1.5 cups gluten free plain flour (rough guide, I ended up using about 2-2.5 cups, so have extra on hand, just in case)
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon cracked pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten (optional, but I recommend it to assist with binding, especially if using gluten free flour)

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 200˙C or 390˙F .
  2. Cut the sweet potatoes in half, lengthwise and place face down on an oven tray. Bake until soft all the way through (this was about 1-1.5 hours for me, I forget exactly how long).
  3. When the sweet potatoes are cool enough to touch, peel the skin, and any uncooked or brown edges away, and mash them thoroughly in a mixing bowl. The sweet potato mixture needs to be perfectly smooth, so you may need to push it thru a sieve.
  4. Add the nutmeg, pepper and salt, and mix with a fork.
  5. Gradually add the flour – and egg if you wish – mixing with a fork until a dough forms.
  6. Continue to add the flour until the mixture can be worked with your hands.
  7. Knead the dough several times on a well floured surface.
  8. Divide the ball of dough into quarters and roll into tubes with your hands.
  9. Cut 2cm pieces with a sharp knife (flouring the knife can help as well).
  10. Heat a non stick pan on medium heat with a little olive oil.
  11. Fill the pan with the gnocchi pieces and cook until golden brown on one side.
  12. Turn the gnocchi over and reduce the heat to low to cook them through without burning.
  13. After 5 or 6 minutes, check a piece by breaking it open and tasting it (you may need to “check” a few…) If the insides are still doughy, continue cooking. You may wish to cover the pan with a lid. Once the inside appears “baked” they are ready!
  14. Once cooked, serve immediately with your favourite sauce. We enjoyed them with lamb ragu.


Spicy banana bread

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The evolution of bananas in our household – gluten and dairy free spicy banana bread

Above: The evolution of bananas in our household.

It seems an age ago that bananas were $15 per kilo and considered a luxury in our house. Now that they’re $1.99 per kilo, we’ve become complacent and are lazily letting them go ripe. Secretly I think my housemates are letting this happen on purpose, so that I make banana bread with them.

I’ve been putting the old bananas in the freezer, and finally found time today to make a loaf of Spicy Banana Bread.

Tip: Before freezing bananas, peel them and wrap them in cling wrap. It makes them much easier to use when you’re ready for them.

My housemates aren’t gluten and dairy intolerant, but they still love this banana bread. Probably because it’s so moist and beautifully dense and filling. It certainly doesn’t last long. Not as long as actual bananas do!

I found this recipe on soy.com.au a site that has a wealth of healthy eating recipes and resources. It’s also got a nifty feature where you can select a user profile to customise the way the site and it’s content is presented to you, i.e.

  • I’ld like to try soy milk
  • Sometimes I drink soy milk
  • I can’t drink dairy milk
  • I’m a health foodie

It’s well worth checking out.

Gluten and Dairy Free Spicy Banana Bread

Serves 6 (or 3 hungry housemates)

Ingredients:

  • 175ml ricemilk
  • 2 1/3 cups (300g) gluten free self raising flour
  • 2 tsp Gluten Free Gluten (GFG) (or I use Xantham Gum)
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground mixed spice
  • 1/2 cup (75g) brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1/4 cup (55g) caster sugar
  • 125g dairy free reduced fat spread, softened to room temperature
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 large ripe bananas, mashed

I also like to add 1/2-1 cup walnuts.

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180˚C (160˚C fan forced).
  2. Line a 19x8cm loaf pan with baking paper.
  3. Sift together the flour, GFG (or Xantham Gum) and spices.
  4. Place into a large mixing bowl with the sugars, spread, rice milk, eggs and bananas.
  5. Mix with electric beaters for 3 minutes or until well combined (or a wooden spoon and strong arm.
  6. Add walnuts (if desired) and stir through mixture.
  7. Pour mixture into the prepared pan and bake on the centre shelf of the oven for 40 minutes.
  8. Cover with greased foil and bake a further 10 minutes or until golden brown and firm to touch.
  9. Allow to stand for 10 minutes before removing from the pan. Allow to cool completely before slicing.

This banana bread is delicious toasted and spread with jam or peanut butter.