Roasted red pepper hummus

I think the world has slowly become obsessed with super foods with every day a different newspaper reporting that a certain type of nut, berry, grain or bean is the latest super food that must be consumed on a daily basis in a bid to maintain a healthy weight, fight disease and live longer.

We are often bombarded with information that can be a little confusing, overwhelming and quite contradictory at times. In my opinion as long as you eat healthyily (most of the time, a little bit of what you like won’t really harm), do some exercise and cook from fresh raw foods, you’ll be onto a good thing.

This is the perfect time of year to eat clean fresh foods and have a go at cooking those dishes that often you might just pick up off the shelf out of convenience without realising just how easy it is to make them yourself at home.

We are lucky in the UK with the array of salads and different types of leaves on offer that having some boring old iceberg lettuce with some cucumber and tomatoes just isn’t going to cut it on our dining room table. I think that men gasp in horror if they think they are going to be served ‘salad’ as their evening meal, but actually with a bit of thought, a salad can be a fantastic meal that is both filling and satisfying but nutritious too.

I definitely follow the Jamie Oliver train of thought where a salad can be really interesting, especially with the influences of Europe on what we serve up. I love having meals where you can pick from a variety of bowls full of different flavours to compile a lovely plate of food.

I’ve often used hummus as an accompaniment to my lunches to dip celery and cucumber in to, but I’d always bought little tubs in the past. However, with a bit of time to spare whilst making dinner and some spare chickpeas and peppers in the cupboard, I thought I would take the time to make some to go with dinner.

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The only slight bit of effort was roasting the peppers but other than that, it really was just a case of putting it all in a mixer and blending it to a smooth consistency.

The result was a more interesting hummus that had much more depth of flavours than what you normally buy off the shelf.  And you get a large batch of hummus for the ingredients which will serve you well over a few days to add to your lunches. The peppers provided a sweet and smoky flavour and add a beautiful orange colour.

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I love the addition of the toasted sunflower seeds on the top and it was lovely to mop up the hummus with some warmed pitta bread.

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I served it with some grilled hummus, cherry tomatoes mixed with avocado, basil and mozzarella, a fresh green salad and some Parma ham. Delicious!

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Once you’ve mastered the basic hummus, you can substitute the peppers for a variety of ingredients, which is what makes it so versatile and a real crowd pleaser. It can work as a great spread instead of the usual butter or mayo on sandwiches and wraps, but has the added benefit of providing great flavour without the fat.

Have a go, it takes 15 minutes and guess what… it’s a superfood too.

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Ingredients

3 large red peppers

1 red chilli (seeds removed)

1 tsp rapeseed olive oil

1 small onion finely chopped

½ tsp ground coriander

1 tsp ground cumin

1 x 400g can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 garlic clove crushed

½ unwaxed lemon, juice and zest finely grated

½ tsp seas salt

Handful of sunflower seeds, toasted.

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Method

Preheat the grill to its hottest setting and line a baking tray with foil.

Heat the oven to 150°C

Cut the peppers and chilli in half lengthways and place them, cut side down on a foil-lined baking tray.

Grill the peppers for 10-15 minutes or until the skins are black all over. Transfer the peppers to a bowl and cover tightly with cling film. The steam will finish cooking the peppers and loosen the skins. Leave to cool for 10 minutes.

Heat the olive oil in a small frying pan. Add the chopped onion and fry for 5 minutes, or until softened. Stir in the ground coriander and ground cumin then leave to cool slightly.

When the peppers are cool enough to handle, peel off their skins.

Put the onion mixture and pepper into a food processor (or use a hand blender). Add the chickpeas, garlic, lemon juice and zest. Blend until the mixture is smooth.  You may need to add a couple of spoonfuls of water to thin the hummus to a lighter consistency.

Toast the sunflower seeds in the oven until they have a light golden colour, this will take about 5 minutes but keep an eye on them.

Spoon the hummus in to a serving bowl, add salt and ground black pepper to taste. Sprinkle the sunflower seeds on top and add a drizzle of olive oil.

Serve with pitta, celery, cucumber or use as an accompaniment to salads.

It can be stored in an airtight container for up to three days in the fridge.

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