When life gives you lemons … you’d better hope it gives you chickpeas too. Then, with just a few more ingredients, you’re set for a celebratory feast. Dip into the new Hummus to Halva cookbook for the most delish dishes for a spring party.
FROM HUMMUS TO HALVA…
Hello spring food
Winter’s been great … all heavy stews and lovely warm puds with custard or cream. But we have to admit, we love it when the weather turns a little warmer, and spring is a fabulous season … all new beginnings and light food and dining al fresco. Hummus to Halva is the most wonderful cookbook. Crammed with recipes from a Levantine kitchen, it’s been compiled by Ronen Givon – born and raised on a kibbutz in Israel and, he confesses, obsessed with hummus, and Christian Mouysset – who didn’t taste hummus until he went to uni … then he ate it with anything and everything he could. The book is just a fantastic celebration of food to share. There’s hummus every which way (with mushrooms or slow cooked chunky beef (Christian’s favourite dish in the book), with lamb and pine nuts or Moroccan meatballs. There are lovely salads – tabbouleh and fattoush, and breads and dips and gorgeous labaneh – sour yoghurt cheese. The halva cookies, cardamom coffee and ouzo and grapefruit slush round off a delicious book. Food to make, to share, to celebrate. Published by Pavilion.
MINT & GINGER LEMONADE
Easy to make and really refreshing on a hot summery day, this drink is great for parties, too. Just scale up the quantities and, for those who like an extra hit, try it with a splash of white rum.
(Makes: 6 glasses. Prep: 10 minutes. Cook: 5 minutes. Chill: 2–3 hours)
150g granulated sugar; 150ml water; 70g piece fresh root ginger, scrubbed and sliced (there’s no need to peel first); juice of 8 lemons
Chilled water and ice cubes; 6 fresh mint sprigs; wafer-thin strips of fresh root ginger, cut with a vegetable peeler (optional)
Put the sugar, water and ginger into a small saucepan and heat over a low heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to the boil, then take off the heat, cover with a lid or plate and leave to cool at room temperature for two to three hours for the flavours to develop. Strain the lemon juice into a large measuring jug – you should have just over 400ml. Strain in the ginger syrup and stir to mix, then top up to 1.7 litres with chilled water and ice cubes. Stir together, then pour into 6 glasses and add a mint sprig and strip of ginger, if using, to each.
GARLIC & LEMON SAUCE
This is a mixture that adds a different dimension to any hummus dish. We don’t put garlic in our hummus but we love drizzling this sauce over the top – the acid from the lemons together with the bitterness of the garlic and spiced saltiness of the pickled chillies make it irresistible.
(Serves 4. Makes 150ml . Prep: 5 minutes. Stand: 30 minutes)
Juice of 3 lemons; 3 garlic cloves, very finely chopped; 2 pickled chilli peppers, drained and finely chopped; sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Hummus and warm pita breads
Put all the ingredients into a bowl and using a fork, stir together to mix. Alternatively, put in a jam jar, screw on the lid and shake well.
Leave to stand for 30 minutes or so for the flavours to develop, then strain. Drizzle over plates of hummus and serve with warm pita breads.