Muhammara, maybe?

This is my adaptation of muhummara dip, which I love to order in our local Lebanese restaurant. Mine is more of a store-cupboard version than a strictly authentic one.

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Muhammara dip

75g walnuts (I’ve substituted hazelnuts before when I ran out of walnuts)
1 tsp cumin seeds
3 roasted red peppers
3 heaped tablespoons of breadcrumbs
2 heaped tablespoons of tomato puree
2 tablespoons of honey (if you’re being authentic, you should go in search of pomegranate molasses, but honey isn’t a bad substitute)
1 teaspoon chilli flakes
A squeeze of lemon juice
Salt and pepper
Olive oil

1. Roast the nuts and cumin seeds in the oven for up to 5 minutes at 180°C until the nuts are just starting to brown. (If you are roasting the peppers, you could put them in the oven first, as they’ll take about 30 minutes to roast, alternatively you can grill them.)

2. Blitz the walnuts, cumin seeds and peppers in a food processor.

3. Add the other ingredients to the food processor. Blitz until smooth. I only add a splash of olive oil, but up to 2 tablespoons would work here.

Vegetarian Jambalaya

This is a really tasty recipe that’s easy to throw together and full of big flavours.

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Veggie Jambalaya (serves 4)

1 finely chopped onion
2 finely chopped garlic cloves
1 red pepper, deseeded and chopped into small pieces
2 celery sticks, finely diced
1 chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
A splash of oil
350g long grain rice
1 tsp chilli powder
3 heaped tbsp tomato purée
2 tsp dried thyme
½ tsp paprika
½ tsp cayenne pepper
900ml vegetable stock

Optional but recommended
Some diced sweet potato or butternut squash
One tin of red kidney beans, drained

1. Heat a splash of oil and cook the onion, garlic, pepper, celery and chilli in a frying pan. Cook for around 5 minutes until softened.

2. Add the rice to the frying pan, along with chilli powder and tomato purée and cook for 2 minutes.

3. Add the dried thyme, paprika and cayenne pepper and the stock. Add the diced Squash/sweet potato and red kidney beans. Bring to the boil.

4. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes with the pan lid on. Stir occasionally.

Chickpea and spinach curry

For times when you need some quick, simple and nourishing …

Chickpea and spinach curry

Chickpea and Spinach Curry (Serves 2)

1/2 tbsp vegetable oil
One onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic
1 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp tumeric
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp garam masala
1 tsp ground cardamom
400g can of chickpeas, drained
1 red pepper, chopped into bitesized pieces
200g baby spinach leaves
200g tomato passata

1. Heat the oil in a non-stick pan and gently fry the onion and garlic until soft.

2. Add the spices and stir to coat the onions.

3. Add the passata, pepper and chickpeas and bring to the boil. Turn down the heat and allow to simmer for 20 minutes.

4. Add the spinach and cook gently until the spinach is wilted.

Serve with brown rice.