It's hard to believe that February is already upon us. Seriously, how did that happen? Mum's delicious Christmas dinner, the escape up north to the top of Mount Manaia, a house move ... all seem like they happened yesterday. Well they didn't. Time ticking is as simple as that (it ticks!) so for us ‘Southern Hemispherers’, we ought to make the most of our summer. Outdoor living to me means snacks. Lots of snacks, at all times of the day. This particular snack, though, is better suited to the afternoon, ideally under a spot of summer sun with a bunch of your favourites and a collection of refreshing beverages. The dip is easy to make and due to the chickpeas, quite substantial – especially when mounded high on a piece of crispy flatbread. If you're in the more wintery north try it as a midnight snack and think of us down here in New Zealand, chomping away, spilling crumbs and possibly getting burnt. Time zones aside, a snack for all occasions and all seasons. And give it a try with fried white fish. It is seriously good.
2 red peppers (capsicums/bell peppers)
1 small red onion, peeled
2 very generous glugs of extra virgin olive oil (about 2 Tbsp)
½ tsp ground cumin
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
Flaky sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
400g (14 oz) can of chickpeas
Finely grated zest of ½ lemon
1½ Tbsp lemon juice (possibly a wee bit more depending ... )
Sumac to sprinkle and fresh chopped mint to scatter
1 Preheat oven to 200°C (400°F). Cut peppers in half, remove core and seeds and chop roughly. Chop onion coarsely and put in a small roasting tin with peppers (line the tin with baking/parchment paper if you prefer). Drizzle with a generous glug of oil (about 1 tablespoon), sprinkle with spices and salt – I used about 1/4 teaspoon of salt – and pepper to taste. Whack in the oven and roast until the veg are tender and crispy-looking. Or crispy and smelling good, whichever comes first (about 20-25 minutes). Remove veg from oven and let them cool.
2 In the meantime (or ‘meanthyme’– a more herbaceous mode of time-keeping…), drain the chickpeas (reserve a little of the goop) and add to food processor with lemon zest and juice, about 1 teaspoon of flaky sea salt (salt to taste; it will depend on whether you use chickpeas in water or salted brine) and another generous glug of extra virgin olive oil. Whiz until smooth. If the concoction you’ve created is a total pasty monster, then scrape down the sides of the processor and add further lemon juice if you’d like it sharper, or the tiniest bit of canned chickpea ‘goop’, or if you forgot to save that and poured it down the sink, a little water to loosen the mix, but don’t make it sloppy because the puréed veg will soften it. Re-whiz until smooth. Check seasoning, adjust, transfer to a bowl and set aside.
3 Add veggies and any juices to food processor bowl, whiz until smooth, then adjust seasoning.
4 Fold the puréed roasted veg through the chickpea mix. Mix both parts together thoroughly or else leave it so you have an interesting bi-colour swirl going on. Either way sprinkle a little sumac on top for a subtle lemony kick along with some fresh mint if you have it. Serve with crispy flatbreads or as part of a smorgasbord of snacky bits and bobs. It teams EXCEPTIONALLY well with a juicy IPA beer, some sun, and a bunch of humans to share it all with.