After having spent 30 minutes listening to my soon eight-year-old daughter telling a joke, I can tell you with 100% certainty that she’s got a talent for comedy. Someone apparently told her this joke in school and she tried explaining it to me repeatedly without ever reaching the pun. It was the funniest thing I’ve heard in years. Especially because she refused to give up and just kept at it. Something about blood dripping in a dark room and an old woman peeling tomatoes (although I think it should be blood orange, but don’t tell her). While I was literally ROFL with her for failing and yet succeeding with her comedy act, I had this revelation that this is it. This is the meaning of it all. As good as it gets. Total presens. Laughing so my tummy hurts together with someone I love unlimitedly.
So here is a suggestion. Whip up a couple of good spreads and dips, fill a tray with veggies, shut off your phone and sit down with someone you love and tell each other jokes tonight – good and bad ones.
These spreads don’t call for neither tomatoes nor blood oranges, but if you make the one with beetroot, your hands will look blood stained nevertheless [Yes! I knew there was a lame pun somewhere in there]. The pink one is a Beet, Bean & Sumac Spread that we like a lot (especially Luise, who adds a couple of dollops on top of scramble eggs for breakfast). It has a beautiful color and an intricate and tangy flavor that balances the beans and the beets. The white one is a yogurt, spinach and feta dip inspired by a Bon Appetite recipe (but simplified) and it was our kids favorite out of these three (the other two were named “not good” and “terrible” by our daughter). The red-ish is my favorite spread of all times, Muhammara. We make ours with roasted bell peppers, walnuts, almond flour, dates, lemon and cayenne. It has that great balance of rich, fresh, tangy, spicy and sweet. You can roast the bell peppers yourself or buy them roasted in a jar. We have tried both versions and even if home-roasted tastes slightly better, it is honestly not a huge difference. And since it’s 40 minutes quicker, I know which one most of you will go for.
That’s it for this week. Beans, nuts, yogurt, blood stains and bad jokes. My perfect Friday night.
Three Good Spreads
We served these spreads with a variety of raw veggies, roasted potatoes and bread, but they are also good on sandwiches and as sides to almost any dish. The top photo is inspired by a photo from one of Anna Jones wonderful cookbooks. Check out her books if you haven’t already.
Beet, Bean & Sumac Spread
Note: You can make this with raw beets if you want to save time, it’s also good. Skip or reduce the water if you do. However, you get a rounder flavour when roasting them so that’s our preferred method.
2 beetroots (approx 250 g / 9 oz)
1 x 400 g / 14 oz can white beans, rinsed
120 ml / 1/2 cup hot water
2 tsp ground sumac (or more lemon zest)
2 tbsp tahini
1/2 lemon, juice and zest
1 pinch sea salt
Preheat the oven at 200°C / 400°F. Peel and trim the beets and cut in quarters. Place them on a small baking tray with a drizzle of oil and bake until soft, approx. 15-20 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly, then place in a food processor with the rest of the ingredients. Blend until smooth. Taste and adjust the flavors to your preference.
Note: If you are cooking for kids, leave out the cayenne (and maybe the date as we use it to balance the spiciness in the cayenne). We have shared the easy version here with store bought roasted bell peppers but you can of course roast them yourself.
3 roasted bell peppers (from a jar) (approx 200 g / 1 cup) see note below how to roast them yourself
60 g / 1/2 cup walnuts
45 g / 1/2 cup almond flour
1 soft date, stone removed
2 tbsp tahini or olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 large pinch cayenne pepper (optional)
sea salt flakes
Add all ingredients to a food processor and mix until smooth. Taste and adjust the flavor and consistency, adding more almond flour to thicken and tahini/oil or lemon to smoothen.
Note: To roast your own bell peppers, simply place them in the oven at 200°C/400°F for 25-30 minutes or until charred. Leave to cool under a bowl (this will make them easier to peel), peel off skin and seeds and add the flesh to the processor with the other ingredients.
Spinach, Feta & Mint Yogurt
Adapted from this Bon Appetite recipe.
2 cups Greek or Turkish yogurt
100 g / 3 1/2 oz feta cheese
1 handful walnuts
100 g / 3 1/2 oz baby spinach
3 tbsp olive oil
1/2 lemon, zest and juice
1 tsp dried mint or a small handful leaves fresh mint, chopped
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Pour yogurt into a bowl, crumble the feta cheese into it and stir until combined. Dry-toast the walnuts in a skillet on medium heat for 5 minutes, pour into small bowl and leave to cool. Add a thin layer of water to the same skillet and bring to a boil. Add half of the spinach, stir and keep adding more as the spinach wilts down. Add the mint to the spinach, season with salt, stir and set aside to cool. Add 2/3 of the spinach to the feta yogurt along with half of the olive oil, lemon juice and zest. Crush the walnuts in your hand, sprinkle over the yogurt and stir. Taste and adjust the flavour. Fold the rest of the spinach, walnuts and oil into the yogurt until it looks a little messy and marbled. Top with freshly ground black pepper.
Completely unrelated but we also just posted this sauerkraut video on our youtube channel. If you haven’t tried to make your own sauerkraut yet, you should! It’s super easy, you basically only need cabbage and salt. And it’s so good – tangy, fresh, gut healthy and all that.