homemade hummus : a recipe

homemade hummus : a recipe

I’ve dabbled in the past with making homemade hummus, but it’s never become a habit. Hummus is so widely available that it just seemed a bit of a faff, and I could ever get a consistent recipe that I was happy with. When we lived in West Didsbury this was fine, as we had loads of lovely independent delis nearby, as well as plenty of supermarkets which stocked tasty hummus. However, out here in Istria – and I know it’s a bit of a first world problem in the grand scheme of things currently – good hummus just isn’t as easy too come by. We can get it, but it’s either too whipped up and creamy (no texture at all), too bland or strangely, too vinegary. Even we shop in Trieste, we’ve not found the one. So, at the weekend, the food processor was brought out of storage and a very simple recipe from the BBC Good Food website, was adapted to suit our tastes. Absolutely simple as anything to knock together, and the base recipe has now been found. Which is great, because we are big fans of this Middle Eastern dip – and as long as we keep stocked up on the ingredients, we can have it whenever we want it now.


  • 1 can chickpeas, drained
  • Approx 60ml cold water, plus a 30ml for a looser consistency
  • 1 small garlic clove peeled and crushed
  • 1 lemon, juiced then ½ zested or a a big splash of lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp tahini
  • 1 tbsp olive oil, to garnish (optional)


  • Thoroughly rinse the chickpeas in a colander under cold running water.
  • Tip into the large bowl of a food processor along with 60ml of water and blitz until almost smooth.
  • Add the garlic, lemon and tahini, and blitz again. If the consistency is too thick, gradually pour in up to 30ml more water.
  • Blitz again for about 5 mins, or until the hummus is smooth and silky. Or less, if you prefer more texture.
  • Season with a good pinch of sea salt and transfer to a bowl.
  • Swirl the top of the hummus with the back of a dessert spoon and drizzle over a little (chilli flavoured for a kick) olive oil and sprinkle with chilli flakes.

This was made in about 10 minutes – the longest part of the process was the initial blitzing of the chickpeas. I think because it was made with fresh ingredients (apart from the chickpeas) it was super tasty and could easily be elevated with additional flavours – olives, pumpkin, red pepper, avocado, beetroot, jalapenos. The list is seemingly endless. The recipe above makes enough for four good sized portions for two people, so you can adjust the quantities accordingly so none goes to waste or if you need more. And apart from the chick pea tin, there’s little packaging – no plastic lids, cartons, outer wrappers etc. A result all round.




smoked tuna with pasta…

smoked tuna with pasta…

Almost with the flick of a switch, summer seemed to end yesterday, and autumn arrived. The temperature dropped and grey skies replaced the bright blue sky we seem to have had for weeks and weeks. Although we’re still hopefully weeks away from having to light the woodburners, we definitely craved something a bit more substantial and comforting for dinner. Our local Lidl store has been rotating, on a weekly basis, foods from different European countries – Greek week is always a winner in our house, and we’ve been stocking up on Eridanous range of smoked tuna. It is utterly delicious, with a real woody, smoky flavour and when a tin of tuna is called upon in future, I don’t think I’ll be able to have any other kind.

We’ve used this through the summer in salads and wraps but decided something more warming was needed – and our pasta dish was just perfect. It was quick and easy to make and very delicious. Hopefully, if you try it too, you can get your hands on some smoked tuna – it does make all the difference…


  • Penne pasta
  • Red onion, finely sliced
  • A couple of cloves of garlic, sliced
  • Olive oil
  • Medium jar of passata or a tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 2 small tins of smoked or regular tuna
  • Dried chilli flakes
  • Strong cheese, for the topping
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Fresh basil leaves

The recipe is as you would expect. Boil the pasta until al dente (it will cook further in the oven). When cooking, fry the onion and garlic until soft, in the olive oil. Sprinkle over the chilli flakes. Add the passata (or tomatoes) and stir until heated through, then add the tuna (chopped up into largish chunks) and a handful of basil leaves. Season according to taste.

Drain the pasta and mix into the tuna & tomato sauce, then turn into an oven proof dish. Cover with the grated cheese and cook for about 30 minutes in a medium oven.


waste not want not panzanella

waste not want not panzanella

Waste not, want not.

We’re trying very, very hard to live a much more sustainable lifestyle and to really take note of what we buy. In the past, we might have popped into Manchester and come bag with bags of *stuff* that we just didn’t need. We don’t do this now. Because we’ve kind of had to start from scratch, with our Istria house, we’ve had to be a lot more careful. OK, so we had all of our furniture and boxes of accessories etc from our West Didsbury house, but we also now have a house with a whole lot more floorspace, so we’ve had to think carefully about how we furnish and accessorise it. Upcycling and recycling has played a much bigger part this time around – and it’s very satisfying to see something we’ve actually created.

But this is not the only aspect of our lives, where we’re trying to be more careful. Rather than chucking food which we think looks a bit “off”, we now try to eat what we buy when it’s fresh. Or, certainly in my case, being a bit braver with food and not think I am going get food poisoning if it’s a day or two past its best.

Like the ciabatta loaf that hadn’t been eaten quickly enough this weekend, and was too hard to do much with. Like the tomatoes which had gone a bit too soft. Like the jar of anchovies which had been opened for a pizza a couple of nights previously and needed to be eaten. Then I remembered a dish I had always intended to make – but then never got round to, because I’d always chucked the perfect ingredients for this recipe. Those a bit on the stale side, and just past their best. No excuses this time, as I had everything to hand…


Panzanella (or panmolle) is a Tuscan salad, the main ingredients being stale bread, onions and tomatoes, with red wine vinegar and olive oil. We had a few more ingredients to hand, so threw these in, too. The easiest and quickest dish to make – even adding in the additional time to roast the peppers.


  • Stale ciabatta loaf
  • Over ripe mixed tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 1 handful small capers (drained)
  • 1 small red onion – peeled and finely sliced
  • A couple of red peppers, chopped & roasted – make sure the skin blackens in places for extra flavour
  • About 10 small anchovy fillets in oil, drained and chopped up
  • Red wine vinegar
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Salt & pepper
  • Torn up fresh basil leaves

And this is how simple it is to make…

  • Chop the red peppers, smother with olive oil and black pepper and roast for about 30 minutes.
  • Place the chopped tomatoes in a big bowl and season with salt and pepper, and then add the red peppers when roasted.
  • Rinse the capers, squeeze out any excess liquid and add to the bowl, along with the sliced, red onion, ciabatta and anchovies.
  • Toss the mixture together with your hands, then stir in a splash of red wine vinegar and about 3 times as much extra virgin olive oil.
  • Taste and add a little more salt, pepper, vinegar or oil, if needed.
  • Tear in the basil leaves, stir together and grate parmesan cheese over the salad.

Serve, with a lovely glass of chilled wine. The perfect Italian salad, using what you probably have in the kitchen anyway.




smoked salmon & leek pasta…

smoked salmon & leek pasta…

We’ve been getting very good at using nearly everything we buy food-wise, and reducing our waste massively, and raiding the back of the cupboards for forgotten tins and packets. Most of the meals we’ve been making recently have been proper lockdown larder efforts, using generally what we have. When we do go the supermarket now, we plan ahead and often buy things which we would have considered luxuries in the past, meaning that if we don’t have all of the ingredients in, we have most and can usually find a substitute. This was once such meal this week.

The leeks were quite old and looked a bit ropey and past their best. Previously, I might have looked at them and decided they were too old and binned them. But this time, they were trimmed and a few layers peeled away – plus I kept the ends and these are sitting in water, sprouting, almost ready to planted up. Equally with the packet of smoked salmon – it was bang on its use-by date, by rather than thinking I’d get chronic food poisoning, I decided to be very brave and risk it 😉 I’ve also started buying mascapone cheese to use in sauces, rather than cream, so had a fresh tub of this in the fridge. And, as we always have pasta and white wine, we were good to go…


  • Tagliatelle
  • Olive oil
  • Sliced leeks
  • White wine
  • Dried chilli flakes
  • Small tub of mascarpone cheese
  • Smoked salmon, cut into slices


It couldn’t be simpler. Sautee the chopped leeks in the olive oil, until soft and then add the tub of mascarpone cheese and a glass of white wine. Meanwhile, cook the tagliatelle. Add a pinch of chilli flakes (and black pepper, according to taste). Simmer gently, until the the tagliatelle is cooked. Add the chopped smoked salmon to the cheesy, winey leek sauce and stir. Drain the tagliatelle and add to the sauce. Serve immediately.

The leek mixture is gorgeous once the cheese and wines and chilli flakes have been added. I didn’t add any additional salt as once the smoked salmon was added, for our taste, that provided sufficient saltiness.

A really quick & easy dinner dish, packed full of flavours.

lockdown larder : coconut and lentil dahl…

lockdown larder : coconut and lentil dahl…

We’re currently in proper lockdown here in Istria. As of last week, a permit has to be applied for if you want to travel to a different municipality. Borders are closed so we can’t – and at the moment, definitely don’t want to – hop across to Italy to stock up on our favourite parmesan and proscuitto and so we’re driving over to Umag, on the coast, to shop at Lidl and Spar. Although obtaining a permit is relatively easy – we have residency here and so just need to email the appropriate office – we’re much happier not being out and about, preferring to live a much more self-sufficient lifestyle, at the moment. Rather than multiple weekly trips to a supermarket, we’ve decided that once a week, at most – less, if we can be very organised – is the best way forward. This also means we are finally getting to the back of our kitchen cupboards and rationalising the many packets and tins and bags of foodstuff we’ve accumulated. Rice, pasta, pulses – all there, and because a lot of it is at the back, and we can’t see it, more of the same stuff has been bought over time. So, now seems to be the right time, to actually start using it.

Coconut & Lentil Dahl

With a glut of tins of lentils, it was decided that a dahl was on the cards. I found this recipe from Deliciously Ella and liked it because a) most of the ingredients were available and b) a bit of coconut flavour is always welcome. It also looked easy -peasy – which it was – and appealed to my liking of chuck-everything-in-the-one-pot kind of cooking.

  • 400g green lentils, washed and drained
  • 2x 400g cans coconut milk
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
  • 2 large tomatoes, cut into small pieces
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon hot chilli powder
  • 1 teaspoon chilli flakes, optional

In the end, I only used one tin of coconut milk, because I used a jar of passata instead of chopped tomatoes and so there was quite a lot of excess liquid to cook off. I also used more of the spices, than in the recipe – probably double the quantities as we like our food to be flavoursome and spicy. The onions, when first sauteed in oilve oil, were also quite heavily seasoned with black pepper from the grinder.

It really is the easiest thing to make – taking the recipe from Deliciously Ella (linked to above), I did adapt things slightly. I added a packet of black puy lentils to give it a bit more texture, and with hindsight, I maybe used too much passata, so that the final colour was more orangey than the usual yellowy-mustard colour of dahl. The chopped tomatoes, as suggested in the original recipe, would probably be better if you didn’t want it to be over-tomatoey. Last night’s was served with roasted new potatoes, which were cooked in a mixture of olive oil, spicy paprika and chilli flakes. We also had some cooling natural yoghurt on the side, although our herbs haven’t been planted up yet, and so sadly, no coriander as a garnish. That’s our next project – an old IKEA CD cabinet, which has been sprayed anthracite, and which is about to be planted up with herb seeds. Perfect compartments to keep them organised.

Because there is so much left over, it’s going to be the base of tonight’s dinner. In the fridge, there is a lovely Italian chorizo which will be fried off with a bit more spice and added to the dahl – and this time, I’m going to add a fair few sprinkles of turmeric to try and achieve that yellow colour. Nice to see the kitchen cupboard staples actually finally being used…