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And why not?

Just because they look like party food doesn’t mean they can’t be really healthy, low fat, midweek dinner food. And I love the social aspect of all just sitting round the table sharing one platter, rather than individual plates. Everyone has their own favourites. Conversation flows. It’s nice.

Half an hour? OK, well, I cheated.   I made the sourdough pita on the weekend and just freshened it up by wrapping in a clean moist tea towel and steaming in the oven for a few minutes.  And though it came together in half an hour at the end, but there was a bit of pre-thinking in it, so it fits the Tuesday Night Vego Challenge rules only with a (fair) bit of creative license!

Charring the Eggplant and Capsicum

The main part of this meal is charring the eggplant and capsicum.  I do this sometimes directly over the flame on my gas oven:

But it is nicer, faster and easier over the wood fired Japanese Hibachi.

Whichever way, the aim is a large eggplant and a large capsicum (or equivalent smaller ones) and three or four cloves of garlic with blackened, charred skin.

Put them straight away into a container with a lid and allow to cool in their own steam until cool enough to handle.

Then gently peel off the blackened skin.  You needn’t stress about getting every little bit – a bit left on doesn’t hurt – it adds to the flavour.  But you want to remove most.

This is the only really laborious part of the whole dinner, and the charring does totally change the flavours, making them sweet and complex and  delicious.

Babaganoush

Blend together:

  • eggplant, roasted and skinned
  • a clove of roasted skinned garlic
  • 3 dsp tahini
  • 50 ml lemon juice
  • salt to taste

Roasted Capsicum and Macadamia Dip

Blend together:

  • 1 large capsicum, roasted and skinned
  • 1 skinned tomato (dunk in boiling water and the skin will come off easily)
  • a clove of roasted skinned garlic
  • ¹/3 cup macadamia kernels (or substitute whatever nut is in season in your part of the world)
  • a little swig of olive oil
  • salt to taste

Hummus

This is basically the same recipe I posted for pea hummus a few months ago, but using chick peas (garbanzos) instead of peas.  I put the peas on to soak overnight, pressure cooked them for 15 minutes in the morning, turned them off just before I left for work, and left them in the closed pressure cooker for the day.  Then it was just a matter of blending:

  • 1 cup of cooked chick peas (garbanzos)
  • good pinch of salt
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 50 ml lemon juice (juice of half a lemon)
  • 2 big dessertspoons tahini
  • enough water to make a smooth dip consistency

I served the three dips with a little tomato and basil salad and pita bread.

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pea hoummus

Thanks to all those who commented. You made my mind up for me! I resolved the eat-it-or-plant-it dilemma by splitting the difference.  I saved some for seed, not enough for the whole of next year’s planting, which will give me a good excuse to keep looking for the variety I lost a few years ago, but enough plant a couple of rounds. Not enough to grow snow pea sprouts, but I like that idea so much I’m going to deliberately grow enough for sprouting next year, but start sprouting them a bit earlier while the weather is still cool enough.

So after putting this little bag aside, I cooked up the rest.  They made a lovely little tub of hummus that we’ll eat on our sandwiches for lunch all week. Hummus is really low GI, so it’s a good breakfast or lunch food, keeps your blood sugar nice and high and stable.  Combined with the grain in bread, it’s a pretty complete protein, and a good source of lots of vitamins and minerals. Peas are also rich in a phytonutrient called coumestrol, which is good for preventing osteoporosis along with several kinds of cancer, and lowering cholesterol at the same time.

The Recipe:

Cook ¾ cup of dried peas – traditionally chick peas (garbanzos), but you can use any kind of pea – till very soft.  This is fastest in a pressure cooker, but just boiling works fine.  How long it will take depends on how fresh the peas are.  The older and drier they are, the longer they will take.  These ones were quite dry but relatively fresh, and they took 20 minutes in the pressure cooker.

If you use a pressure cooker, don’t overfill it and don’t turn it up too high.  The peas have skins that separate from them and can clog up the pressure valve if they boil too furiously.

When the peas are cooked, drain them but keep the liquid.

Use a stick blender, blender, food processor, or a mouli to blend the cooked peas with with:

  • 2 dessertspoons of tahini
  • 2 dessertspoons of lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • salt to taste
  • enough of the pea cooking water to make it a smooth paste consistency. (If I am making it for a dip, I add a bit more and make it a little thinner than if I am making it for a spread).
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