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Such a good recipe for hummus we couldn’t stop eating it and had to make another batch! Once you’ve bought the tahini you may as well use it up.

  • 2 x 400g tins of chickpeas
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 4 tbsp tahini
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • best extra virgin olive oil
  • 50g pine nuts, toasted

Drain the chickpeas, keeping 50ml of the juices from the tin, and rinse.

Put the chickpeas into a food processor, add the garlic cloves and tahini, and process for a few minutes.

Add the reserved can juices, then half the lemon juice and the sea salt, and process until smooth.

Taste and add some more lemon juice, if you like.

Scrape the hummus into a dish, drizzle generously with your best olive oil, sprinkle with the toasted pine nuts, and serve as a starter, with  breadsticks and crudités for pack lunch, or with a selection of other mezze dishes.

(Original recipe from The Lebanese Kitchen by Salma Hage, Phaidon 2012.)

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Green Olive Salad

We can’t encourage you enough to try this salad. The list of ingredients is not instantly inspiring but the result is fabulous!

You will have far too much dressing left over but it will keep in the fridge for up to 6 months and can be used on any salad (it will separate but just give it a good shake each time before serving).

Crushed olive salad – Insalata di olive verdi schiacciate – to serve 4-6

  • 450g good quality green olives in brine
  • 6 celery stalks, with leaves, all finely chopped
  • the leaves from 10-12 stalks of mint, finely chopped
  • 40ml dressing (see below)
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

FOR THE DRESSING (makes approx. 375ml): 

  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 300ml extra virgin olive oil

First make the dressing:

Put the salt into a bowl, then add the vinegars and leave aside for a minute or two to allow the salt to dissolve. Whisk in the olive oil and 2 tbsp of water until it emulsifies. Pour into a clean bottle and keep in the fridge (it should last for about 6 months); it will separate but just give the bottle a good shake before serving.

Drain the olives and pat dry with kitchen paper. Cut the flesh away from the stone (try slicing 3-4 times from end to end then carefully cutting away each segment). Put the olive pieces into a bowl and add the celery, celery leaves, and mint. Toss with 40ml of the dressing, season and serve.

(Original recipe from Georgio Locatelli’s Made In Sicily, Fourth Estate, 2011.)

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Sometimes the simple recipes are the best.

Spaghetti with raw tomato and rocket – to serve 4

  • 4 plum ripe plum tomatoes
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 dried hot chile
  • 2 tbsp capers
  • 3 tbsp black olives
  • 3 tbsp rocket
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 300g spaghetti

Cut the tomatoes in half and squeeze out the excess juice and seeds, and chop the flesh coarsely. Crush the garlic with a teaspoon of sea salt with the flat of a knife. Rinse the capers, and pit the olives. Roughly chop the rocket.

Combine the tomatoes with the garlic, the crumbled chile, capers and olives. Season really well, add the olive oil and leave aside for 30 minutes.

Cook the spaghetti in boiling salted water until al dente. Drain, and stir the pasta into the tomatoes. Add the rocket. Toss to coat and season with black pepper.

Serve with some more olive oil.

Wine Suggestion: You want to find a wine as fresh as the ingredients being used, so try a youthful Dolcetto from the Piedmont region in north-west Italy.

(Original recipe from Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers’ Italian Two Easy, Clarkson/Potter, 20o6.)

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This is a great antipasti plate to serve with some cured meats, crusty bread and good olive oil.

Roasted Peppers with Capers – to serve 4 as an antipasti plate

  • 2 red peppers
  • 2 yellow peppers
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tbsp Marjoram leaves
  • 6 tbsp salted capers
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Brush the peppers with olive oil and roast on a baking tray in the oven for about 30 minutes, turning once. Put the peppers in a bowl, cover with cling film and leave to cool. Peel and remove the seeds when the peppers are cool enough to handle.

Chop the marjoram. Rinse and chop the capers, and mix with the vinegar.

Lay the peppers on a serving dish and season. Sprinkle with the vinegar and capers, scatter over the marjoram, and drizzle with olive oil.

(Original recipe from Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers’ Italian Two Easy, Clarkson Potter, 2006.)

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This is a really straightforward curry and we are glad to say it didn’t disappoint. The aubergine melts in the mouth and the spices are lovely and fresh as well as warming and comforting. Also takes no time at all to make.

Aubergine Curry with Lemongrass & Coconut Milk – serves 4

  • 3 large chillies, deseeded and chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • knob of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 2 lemongrass stalks, peeled and chopped
  • 2 tbsn ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 2-3 aubergine (approx 600g) quartered lengthways then halved
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 6 shallots, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp Fish Sauce (nam pla)
  • 400ml can coconut milk
  • 400ml vegetable stock
  • small bunch coriander, roughly chopped

Pulse  to a coarse paste chillies, garlic, ginger and lemongrass in a food processor. Set aside

Mix the turmeric and chilli powder together and rub it all over the aubergine wedges. Don’t worry if it look like a lot of spices – it works!

Heat olive oil in frying pan and brown aubergine in batches, setting the aubergine aside when done. Add the paste, sugar and shallots to pan and cook for a few minutes until the shallots and garlic soften.

Return aubergine to pan. Add fish sauce, coconut milk and stock, mix well and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and cook gently for about 15 minutes and until aubergine is tender but not mushy. Season and sprinkle coriander on top.

Serve hot with steamed rice.

Drink with: a aged Clare Valley riesling (at least 5 or six years old) or a fruity young Mosel Riesling.

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A delicious Tuscan salad which is usually made with stale bread – we think the bread in Tuscany may contain less preservative as our bread rarely gets a chance to go stale. This version uses baked croutons for a similar effect. Make sure you leave the salad for about 30 minutes before serving to allow the flavours to mingle.

Panzanella – to serve 6

  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 large mild red chilli
  • 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • pinch of sugar
  • 100ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 600g ripe tomatoes
  • 1 red pepper
  • ½ large cucumber
  • 2 sticks celery
  • 1 tbsp capers
  • ½ red onion
  • 4 thick slices from a country-style loaf
  • a small bunch of basil

Crush the garlic with a little bit of salt in a mortar, then deseed and chop up the chilli and crush with the salt and garlic until you have a coarse paste.

Add the vinegar and sugar and mix then tip into a large salad bowl. Add the olive oil and beat together.

Chop the rest of the salad ingredients into bite-size chunks or slices.

Tear the bread into small chunks and bake in a moderate oven until golden and crispy, then add the salad bowl.

Tear over the basil and add to the bowl with a bit of salt and pepper, then toss lightly and leave to stand for about 30 minutes. Toss again before serving.

Wine Suggestion: Wines from a region tend to complement the foods from that region (kind of like a chicken and egg thing). A glass of straightforward Chianti will have the right sort of acidity and rusticity to complement this perfectly.

(Original recipe by Alastair Hendry in Olive, June 2010.)

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My Dad keeps talking about these potatoes that I made before which he says I squashed a bit and then put them in the oven to crisp up. I had no recollection of these squashed, crispy potatoes until I came across these. Is this them Dad? If so I’ll make them for you next time I see you.

Crispy New Potatoes – to serve 4

  • 16 smallish new potatoes, leave the skins on
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • paprika

Heat oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6. Boil the potatoes for 10 minutes, drain and then put back on the warm ring to dry off. Spread the potatoes out on a baking tray and squash them a bit using a potato masher. Be careful here as you only want them a bit squashed and not completely smashed (though I smashed one or two and it just made them even more crispy so don’t worry too much).

Drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle over a little paprika, salt and pepper. Now roast in the oven for about 20 minutes or until nice and crispy.

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