We had a slightly different Christmas Day this year where we had a variety of ‘starters’ served throughout the day, sitting down to eat our main meal at around 4.30pm. The children (and the grown-ups) loved the idea and it gave us the opportunity to try an assortment of different appetisers whilst relaxing and playing games with the grand-children.
The three ‘starters’ I prepared this Christmas were A Trio of Dips, Smoked Salmon on Baked Potato Skins and Vegetarian Party Cups. Sounds like a lot of work, but believe me it wasn’t as much of it was prepared in advance and only needed putting together on the day. As far as possible, I had prepared everything – for example the potato skins were already cooked and frozen and just needed a blast in a hot oven; all vegetables had been sliced, chopped or grated and sealed in containers and kept fresh; even the herbs were all chopped. I was busy Christmas Eve but on Christmas Day I had plenty of time to enjoy the festivities.
Smashed Bean Dip
400g cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
400g chickpeas, rinsed and drained
Juice of 2 lemons
Zest of 1 lemon
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 teaspoons ground cumin
100ml Greek yoghurt
Freshly ground black pepper
Put half the beans and chickpeas into a food processor with the lemon juice, garlic, cumin and yoghurt and whizz until smooth.
Tip in the rest of the beans and pulse once or twice to get a chunky dip (if you prefer a smoother dip, blitz all the beans).
Stir in the lemon zest and plenty of seasoning.
Store in the fridge.
Cucumber and Mint Raita
8 fl oz natural yoghurt
½ cucumber, grated
Large handful fresh mint leaves, chopped
Large pinch of sea salt
½ to 1 green chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped
Wrap the grated cucumber in a clean tea towel or muslin and squeeze out the excess juice. Don’t waste it but add it to your next green juice.
Mix all the ingredients together and chill.
Serve topped with some finely sliced green chilli.
Roasted Chilli Mango Guacamole
2 ripe avocado
1 onion, finely chopped
1 large handful of cilantro (coriander) coarsely chopped
1 large mango
1 hot chilli
1 – 2 tomatoes, diced
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 – 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped (optional)
Finely chop the chilli and roast for a couple of minutes in a saucepan until it starts browning slightly.
Dice the mango and the tomatoes.
Mash the avocados in a bowl with a fork, and the cilantro and all the other ingredients.
Chill in the fridge before serving.
The recipe for the guacamole was adapted from Contentedness Cooking; and the smashed bean dip was from BBC Good Food Show. The raita is one I have made for years and the one I serve with curries, chilli etc. They all keep well in the fridge for a few days if not eaten immediately.