Dip

Spinach with strained yoghurt and chilli butter

This is best served warm, but it’s also good at room temperature (in which case, incorporate the yoghurt and spinach into the dish and add the chilli butter at the last minute). Serves six, as part of a mezze.

220g full-fat natural yoghurt
Salt
60g unsalted butter
¼ tsp Aleppo (or regular) chilli flakes
2 tbsp olive oil
500g large spinach leaves, washed and dried
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
2 tbsp lemon juice

Put the yoghurt in a small bowl and stir in an eighth of a teaspoon of salt. Put a piece of muslin in a sieve placed over a bowl, spoon in the yoghurt and draw up the edges of the muslin to seal. Twist the muslin to put some pressure on the yoghurt, then transfer to the fridge for two hours, so the liquid drips out: you’ll end up with about 150g strained yoghurt.

When you’re ready to serve, put 30g butter in a small saucepan and melt on a medium heat. Add the chilli and a small pinch of salt, cook for a minute, swirling the pan, then take off the heat.

Put the oil and remaining butter in a large saute pan on a high heat. Once the butter has melted, add half the spinach and a quarter-teaspoon of salt, cook for a couple of minutes until wilted then add the remaining spinach. Cook for another minute, stirring, until all the spinach has wilted and the water has evaporated. Add the garlic and lemon juice, cook for a final minute, stirring constantly, then transfer to a food processor. Blitz a few times (you want this to be only roughly pureed, with a bit of texture) then spoon into a shallow serving bowl and spread out while still warm. Drop spoonfuls of yoghurt all over the top, drizzle on the chilli butter and serve.

Avocado and broad bean

Lemon juice prevents the natural discoloration of avocado when it gets mashed, so you can make this ahead of time without worrying about losing that wonderfully vibrant green. Serves four to six.

250g podded broad beans (fresh or frozen )
1 large avocado, peeled and roughly chopped (190g net weight) 
1½ tbsp lemon juice, plus 1 strip finely shaved lemon skin
60ml olive oil
Salt
2 spring onions, trimmed and finely sliced

Fill a small saucepan with salted water and bring to a boil. Blanch the beans for two minutes, then drain, refresh and drain again. Peel off and discard the beans’ skins, then set aside 50g. Put the rest of the beans in a food processor with the avocado, lemon juice, two tablespoons of oil and a quarter-teaspoon of salt, and blitz until almost smooth.

Heat the remaining two tablespoons of oil in a small frying pan on a medium-high flame, then gently fry the spring onions and lemon skin for a minute. Off the heat, stir in the reserved broad beans and a pinch of salt.

Spread out the avocado and broad bean mash over a plate, making sure there is a rim around the edge, spoon the spring onion mix into the middle and serve.

Spiced red lentils with curry leaves

Yotam Ottolenghi’s spiced red lentils with curry leaves.

This works equally well as a warm dip for six, or as a main course for two with spiced vegetables and rice.

60ml olive oil
40 curry leaves, fresh or dried
½ tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp fennel seeds
2 banana shallots, peeled and finely chopped
3cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1 large red chilli, finely chopped
2 tsp mild curry powder
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
150g red lentils, rinsed
500g vegetable stock
Salt

In a medium saucepan for which you have a lid, heat the oil on a medium-high flame, then fry 30 curry leaves for 30 seconds, until starting to turn crisp. Add the cumin and fennel seeds, fry for 10 seconds, until aromatic, then pour the oil and spices through a sieve with a bowl underneath to catch the oil. Put the curry leaves and spices in a bowl with a tablespoon of the infused oil.

Return the remaining cooking oil to the saucepan and put it on a medium-high heat. Fry the shallots for four to five minutes, stirring frequently, until soft and caramelised, then add the remaining 10 curry leaves, ginger, garlic, chilli and curry powder, and stir through for a minute. Add the lemon zest, lentils and a third of a teaspoon of salt, stir for a minute, then pour in the stock. Bring to a boil, turn the heat to low, cover and leave to simmer for 18 minutes, until most of the liquid has been absorbed and the lentils are soft.

Take the pan off the heat and leave to cool down a little, then remove and discard the curry leaves. Tip the contents of the pan into a food processor, blitz until smooth, then spoon into a large, shallow bowl. Sprinkle with the fried curry leaf mix, drizzle over the remaining oil and serve.

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