How many times have you been to a family gathering or even a formal dinner party and the dips were the stars of the show ? happens a lot right? they are just so delicious, and very easy to eat that sometimes you end up eating too much of them and you forget about leaving space for the main course! well , I do that all the time.
Whether you are dunking crackers, veggies or crostini, it’s usually the dip that delivers the flavor, how about home made ones? Even better and tastier, right? What I really love about dips – and that’s mainly because I’m a big fan of veggies- is that the ideas are ENDLESS! You can make a dip out of so many different veggies if not all of them, and when you make them at home, not only will you impress your guests ( like honestly! how often do you go to a party or a picnic when someone brings a delicious home made dip?), but you will also feel better about what you are eating, because you know exactly what’s in it because YOU made it from scratch.
I thought I’d start with some of my favorite veggies and probably the most popular ones too. Ladies and gentlemen please welcome to the Kitchen Mr Capsicum and Mrs Aubergiiiiine! “applause”
OK , so I simply love Red bell peppers ‘capsicum’, they are so sweet and juicy, plus the nutritional value here is right on! Whether these are raw, roasted or stir-fried, they are absolutely DELICIOUS !
Roast capsicums, garlic and chilli peppers and simply add this combination to sauces, marinates or soups .. It’s always a winner !!
When making these dips, it would be a good idea to leave the capsicums roasting in the oven and start preparing the aubergine dip to save some time. Just make sure you check on them turning twice to char from all sides.
*Note: Before whizzing the roasted capsicum make sure you add the delicious roasting oil and leave all the seeds behind, as the oil carries a lot of the flavour, you don’t want to leave that!
Now, “baba ghanoush” dip , is made out of aubergine, and its a very popular dip in Lebanon.
Adding lemon, parsley, tahini, garlic and olive oil, is the authentic way of preparing this dish, and this time I am going to just follow the rules, emm.. actually, can I just add a splash of white vinegar that’s all ?
Are you wondering if that’s a direct flame underneath the aubergine in the picture? the answer is yes it is! Don’t be alarmed though, this method has been used for years and years, it’s safe as long as you stay in the kitchen and keep a close eye on them. If by any chance you have a charcoal grill already cooking, then by all means place them directly on it. But the gas flame is much more handy to use and it gives the dish this unique smoky unbeatable taste that you won’t get if you cook the aubergine any other way.
On serving your dips, drizzle some more extra virgin olive oil on top, it gives a very appetising look to your dish and adds extra flavour too.
Bon Appetit !! or as Egyptians say ‘Belhana’
- 2 large aubergines/eggplants
- 3 tablespoons of tahini
- 1 tablespoon of white vinegar
- 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
- juice of 1-2 medium size lemons
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 bunch of fresh Italian parsley, chopped roughly
- 2-3 table spoons of extra-virgin olive oil to drizzle
- 3 red capsicum/bell peppers
- 5-6 garlic cloves
- 2 fresh red chillies
- 3 -4 table spoons of breadcrumbs
- 1 cup of raw natural walnuts
- 3/4 cup of olive oil
- 2 teaspoons of ground cumin
- 1 table spoon of pomegranate molasses
- 1 table spoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon of honey
- 1 bunch of fresh Italian parsley
- sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- preheat fan forced oven to 200c (400 F)
- place the red capsicum chilies and unpeeled garlic cloves on an oven tray covered with baking paper,drizzle a generous amount of olive oil
- put in preheated oven and roast for about 1 hour,making sure you turn them around once or twice during roasting. Remove the chilies and garlic after 30 mins as they will be roasted perfectly and leave the capsicum to finish the hour. While peppers and garlic are in the oven prepare the Aubergine dip.
- Put the aubergine directly on a low to medium gas flame or a charcoal grill if convenient.
- with your tongs, carefully turn them around from time to time until their skin cracks and chars and the aubergines flesh softens
- place them in an oven safe plastic bag, and leave them aside to sweat and cool (5-10mins)
- Hold them firmly in the sink ,place a drainer under your hands to catch the falling aubergine skin and run cold water on them to peel all the skin off.
- squeeze excess water and place the flesh on a chopping board ,get rid of the stems and any tough bits usually close to the stem.
- chop the flesh,then transfer to a bowl,beat Tahini paste and lemon juice with aubergine very well.
- add the garlic,vinegar and chopped parsley. Save a little to garnish, season with salt and pepper.
- taste to check, at this stage, you can add a little more lemon or adjust the seasoning to your taste, stir well.
- transfer to a serving bowl and serve with flat bread, and other dips.
- ** i recommend you serve it a little while after cooking, it just helps flavors to penetrate the aubergine more. Also you can prepare 1 day ahead and keep in fridge.
- put the walnut on a baking sheet,place them in the hot oven to toast for the last 10mins of roasting capsicum.
- turn off the oven , leave capsicum to cool for 5 mins and start by peeling off the cooled skin of chillies and garlic , then the skin of capsicum, removing any seeds.
- put the soft flesh of capsicum,garlic and chillies in a food processor with walnuts and the rest of ingredients including the roasting oil and parsley, season with sea salt and pepper and whiz, drizzle the rest of olive oil while whizzing to form a puree.
- Now, tip the mixture into a serving bowl.
- Before serving, drizzle some extra olive oil and a squeeze of lemon.serve with flat bread.