Mini mezze for two

The sun has got his hat on, those of you with gardens are in them (inaudible grumbling) and those of us without want food that can be packed up and taken alfresco to the park and hope we don’t accidentally sit in sex litter (looking at you Castle Park). Allow mezze to fill that picnic hole and depending on what you fancy making you can be ready to go in an hour or so.

Here are a few dishes I whipped up on a Monday night, there are plenty of other recipe ideas out there, BBC food is a good start for something simple. Everything i used can be picked up at your local shop too.

Hummus

You will need:

1 tin of chickpeas, drained
3 tablespoons of tahini (its a sesame paste, large corner shops should have it and the supermarkets will do, if you cant fine it use seasame oil, or at a proper pinch smooth peanut butter is almost there).
Juice of half a lemon
1 – 2 cloves of garlic either chopped fine or grated
1 tablespoon olive oil
Seasoning
4 tablespoons of warm water

Dump everything into a blender, blend until about smooth. Beauty of hummus is you can mix whatever you like in there, I like to drizzle mine with sweet chilli sauce but you can mix in some roasted garlic and peppers or fresh herbs, go mad, never bother buying it from the supermarket again.

Baba Ganoush

Aubergines get a hard wrap…and quite frankly they are a bit gross, slimy insiders, rubber skin and hilarious to look at but very good for you and very tasty. Here is a simple, filling dip that also makes a lovely pasta sauce or sammich filling too.

You will need:

3 aubergines
Juice from half a lemon
1 tsp cumin
Seasoning
1 tbls tahini (optional)
1 – 2 garlic cloves
Fresh parsley

Turn up the grill and pop in your aubergines. Prick the skin a few times and then wait for the skin to get crispy and the insides really soft, it will take about 20 mins with the aubergines being rotated a few times though if its taking too long i find slicing them in half and popping them back under the grill for a few minutes to soften.

Whip them out and use a spoon to scrape the flesh into a blender with the rest of the ingredients, whip till almost smooth and dive in there.

Quick, cheating lamb tagine.

This is not authentic but it can be whipped up in about an hour and is a nice meaty addition to your picnic/garden meal that is pretty nice cold (if you ask me). Otherwise chuck it in for a few hours or in a slow cooker to get those flavours going.

About 500g of diced lamb (see your local butcher if you have one for something cheap and cheerful like neck)
Either a tin of tomatos or a few, diced fresh ones
A chopped onion
1 table spoon of tomato paste
1 – 2 cloves garlic either chopped or grated
1 tsp cumin
1/2 inch grated ginger
1 stick of cinnamon
Fresh parsley
Fresh coriander
Juice of half a lemon
1 or 2 chillies depending on how much of a wuss you are

Fry off the lamb in a pan (i use my cast iron tagine but i appreciate not everyone has such generous ex boyfriends), once sealed throw in the onions and cook them down until soft and sexy. Add in the tomato paste and cook until distributed.

Add the chilli, garlic, ginger cumin and lemon juice and cook fora few minutes, add the tomatoes and cook on a high heat until bubbling. Turn the heat down, add half the fresh herbs, seasoning and cover. Simmer for about an hour or until the lamb is tender. Add the rest of the fresh herbs before serving.

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I cheated and bought flat bread because it was Monday and i don’t have time for that.

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