Dips, Spreads & Sauces

Tomato & Red Pepper Soup

Everyone needs a good failsafe tomato soup recipe for cold, rainy days or for when you don't feel too great. This one not only takes just 15 minutes to make but largely consists of store cupboard ingredients and doubles up as a tomato sauce for various other tomato based dishes such as my boston beans, meatballs and sundried tomato risotto. Easy, nutritious and versatile.

Makes 750 ml

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1 tbsp olive oil

2 shallots, finely diced

2 cloves garlic, crushed

200g chargrilled peppers, roughly chopped  (jarred are fine just check what they have been preserved in)

500ml passata

5g fresh basil, finely shredded

2 tbsp creme fraiche

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Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a saucepan and the shallots, cook for 2 minutes before adding the garlic and cooking for a further minute. Add the peppers and cook for 2 minutes and then add the pasta. Bring to the boil and then reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent it from catching. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes before adding the basil and creme fraiche and placing in a food processor to blitz down until smooth.

 

Hidden Veg Guacamole

Avocados are having a bit of a moment and this guacamole recipe demonstrates why- deliciously creamy, wonderfully nutritious and ready in minutes. Oh and its great for breakfast, lunch or dinner- just serve with pitta bread or toast ready to dunk. Simple, fun for little hands (and maybe a tad messy).

50g courgette, roughly grated

10g peas

1 avocado, de-skinned, de-stoned and roughly chopped

1 spring onion, finely chopped

1 garlic clove, crushed

1 - 1 1/2 tsp fresh lime juice.

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Place all the ingredients in a food processor and blitz down until a smooth puree. Serve within a few hours otherwise it will discolour. 

[Tip: if there is any left add 1/4 tsp sea salt and a good pinch of chilli flakes and enjoy!]

 

 

Basic Hummus

Great for snacks or a quick tea spread on toast- hummus is a wonderful source of complete protein, particularly if you are bringing up your child as a vegetarian.  I've added some flax to this recipe as its full of wonderful nutrients and just makes the recipe even better for your little ones (and yourself) but leave out if you don't have any. 

150g chickpeas

3 tbsp tahini

1 garlic clove, roughly chopped

1 tsp flax meal, optional

2 tbsp olive oil

2-4 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

3 tbsp cold water

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Place all the ingredients in a food processor except the water and begin to blitz down. After 30 seconds, add the water a tablespoon at a time and then continue to blitz for 1-2 minutes until you have a smooth puree. Remove and place in a sealable container. It will keep for 3-4 days.

just for adults or older kids? add 1/2 tsp sea salt

 

Pea & Basil Pesto

A good homemade pesto is worth its weight in gold and the addition of some peas makes this one extra good for you. For a quick snack it's wonderful just spread thinly on toast or tossed through vegetables for an extra hit of flavour.

25g frozen peas, defrosted

25g fresh basil, leaves only

5g pine nuts

10g Parmesan

2 tbsp olive oil

1/2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

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Place all the ingredients in a food processor and blitz down for 1 minute. Store in a sealed container in the refridgerator to prevent it from discolouring. [Note: add a little more lemon juice or even some garlic if you want to enhance the flavour]

Red Pepper Pesto

This is probably the easiest recipe yet- 3 ingredients (sweet peppers, salty Parmesan and a handful of pine nuts), 1 food processor and 1 minute of blitzing time. Unlike most pestos you don't need any olive - the jarred peppers usual retain quite a lot of moisture- but if you find your pesto is on the dry side then just add a tablespoon of olive oil to loosen it. We love it simply tossed through pasta or spread over leftover flatbread, topped with mozzarella cheese and toasted under the grill for a cheat's pizza.

Makes one jam jars worth

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250g jarred red peppers, drained weight

60g Parmesan, grated

45g pine nuts- (hazelnuts are also fantastic if you have no nut allergies)

freshly ground black pepper, optional

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Place all the ingredients in a food processor and blitz until a rough puree. Pour into a sterilised jam jar and keep in the fridge for up to a week.

 

Almond & Cocoa 'Nutella'

Nutella disappears in the blink of an eye in our household so I now make this mixed nut version that makes us feel a little better about the speed we consume it! Up until this weekend we have denied Maddie of its deliciousness despite innumerable out cries to have some. As expected- she loves it! If you don't want to give your little one(s) cocoa then just leave it out- the spread will still be delicious.

One small jam jars worth

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70g almonds

30g pecans

30g cashew nuts

30g banana, roughly chopped

30g dates, destoned and roughly chopped

1 tsp coconut oil

2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder

2 tbsp water

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Place the nuts in a food processor and blitz for 5 minutes. Add the banana, dates and oil and continue for a further 10 minutes. Finally, add the cocoa and water and blitz for a finally 5 minutes until you have a smooth spread. Remove and store in an airtight container in the fridge. It will last for 3-4 days but ours is always gone by the end of the weekend!

 

Strawberry Chia Jam

I love strawberry jam. Its one of those flavours that transports me back to childhood days in the sunshine (I'm clearly romanticising here because I was brought up in England!) Anyway, my husband strongly disagrees and is in the raspberry jam camp.  Thankfully Madeleine doesn't give two hoots and this recipe works equally well for both fruits (or even with a 50:50 combo) so its completely up to you which you choose! 

Makes one small jam jars worth

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250g strawberries, destalked weight

2-3 tsp maple syrup- depending on how ripe your fruit is

1 tbsp chia seeds

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Leave half the strawberries whole and cut the rest into quarters before placing in a small saucepan over a high-medium heat along with the maple syrup. Cook down for 10-15minutes, stirring occasionally, until they are almost completely broken down. I like to leave a few pieces still intact but that's completely up to you.

Remove from the heat and stir through the chia seeds. Whilst still hot pour into an airtight container and allow to cool before storing in the refrigerator for 1-2 weeks.

 

 

Homemade Peanut Butter

My daughter is particularly partial to peanut butter- its a regular go to snack at just about anytime of the day. This homemade recipe is utterly delicious and I find myself eating it straight from the jar without even realising. Its really straight forward and worth the noise of the Magimix running for 5 minutes! 

Makes one jam jars worth

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300g peanuts

2 tsp honey

2 tsp olive oil

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Preheat the oven to 200oC and place the peanuts on a large baking tray in one thin layer. Toast for 15-20 minutes or until golden. Remove and straight away place in a food processor. Blitz for 4 minutes by which time it should be a smooth paste. Add the honey and olive oil and blitz for a final minute. Remove and carefully scoop into a sterilised jam jar. Keep stored in the fridge for 1 week.