Mexican salsa verde with tomatillos and pineapple

Mexican salsa verde

I am clearly not a proper foodie. The other day a carton of tomatillos arrived on the back doorstep in our weekly veg box from Riverford and I had no idea what they were. I thought they looked vaguely like Cape gooseberries, so peeled back the papery husk of one and popped it in my mouth. I instantly spat it out again as the sour juices hit my tongue.

On consulting the Riverford website, I discovered these little green fruits were indeed tomatillos, native to Mexico and a staple of Mexican cuisine. It turns out they are actually related to the Cape gooseberry, so I don’t feel a complete plank for stuffing one in my gob.


So, what to do with them? I posted the question on Twitter and Instagram, and the response was almost unanimous: Mexican salsa verde. Who was I to argue? Particularly as were planning a barbecue later that day, and I thought a salsa verde would make a perfect condiment.

But as is my wont, I felt the urge to play with the Riverford recipe I turned to and decided to throw in some ripe pineapple for a little sweet to balance out the sour, an addition that worked out rather well I thought. Some recipes call for cooked tomatillos, but Riverford recommend  using raw as “they retain a sour freshness that would be perfect for a summer’s day”. I rather liked the sound of that. The end result was a vibrant and fresh dip for tortilla chips that works equally well as a tangy accompaniment to grilled steak and fish, particularly when washed down with an ice cold beer.

My nine-year-old loved it while my six-year-old wouldn’t touch it with a barge pole – perhaps it was just a little too green for her?

Mexican salsa verde

Mexican salsa verde with tomatillos and pineapple

350g tomatillos, husks removed and washed
½ ripe pineapple, peeled and chopped
1 small onion, finely diced
1 red chilli, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
juice of 1 lime
large handful of fresh coriander (plus a little extra for serving)
1 tsp brown sugar
sea salt

Simply throw all the ingredients into a food processor and whiz them up until you achieve a still chunky salsa texture. Pour into a serving bowl and garnish with a little extra chopped coriander.

spice trail badge square

I’m entering this Mexican Salsa Verde into August’s Spice Trail challenge, hosted by moi, where the theme is Beach Barbecue.

Easy aubergine and hummus dips

aubergine and hummus dips

I reckon we’re pretty good in the Bangers & Mash house when it comes to snacking healthily. Just as I sat down to write this post, my girls came in with their usual mid-afternoon demand: “Mummy, we’re hungry! Can we have a snack?” They are now happily munching their way through a bowlful each of dried apricots.

Don’t get me wrong. We’re not food saints by any stretch of the imagination. We enjoy our potato crisps and chocolate biscuits as much as the next family, but these are clearly seen as occasional treats rather than everyday snacks.

As well as dried apricots, the girls also love their dried apples, which we dry ourselves above the Aga – perfect in late summer when our apple tree is heaving. Dried apple is a perfect ingredient for our fruit & nut balls and granola, both of which make ideal snacks. Cherry tomatoes, chunks of cheese and cucumber, and carrot sticks are also snacktime favourites with my girls.

Healthy Snacks Collage

But probably the snack the kids ask for most are dips and breadsticks. We always have a pot of chunky hummus or some other dip, such as this deliciously smoky aubergine puree, on the go in the fridge. I used to spend a fortune on the shop bought varieties, until I realised just how cheap and easy they are to make at home. And so much tastier too.

Both recipes are based on ones I found in Leon cookbooks, but I’ve tweaked them slightly for my family’s tastes, in particular by increasing the amount of garlic involved in the proceedings.

aubergine dip

Aubergine dip

Use yoghurt instead of the tahini to turn this dip into babaganoush.

3 large aubergines
125ml tahini
juice of 3 lemons
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Preheat the oven to 220°C / gas mark 7.

Prick the aubergines with a fork and bake in the oven, direct on the rack, for around 20 minutes until the skins have blackened.

Peel off the aubergine skins using a sharp knife while they are still warm.

Whizz up the aubergines in a food processor, together with the tahini, lemon juice and garlic. Taste and season with salt.

Pour into a large bowl to serve, drizzled with olive oil.

easy hummus

Easy hummus

1 x 400g tin of chickpeas, drained
juice of 1 lemon
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1 tbsp tahini
70ml extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
½ tsp paprika (optional)

Simply place the chickpeas, lemon juice, garlic, tahini and olive oil into a food processor and blitz until you reach a good consistency. I like mine fairly chunky but you might prefer yours smoother or looser. If it seems to dry, add a little more olive oil and/or lemon juice.

Season to taste and pour into a bowl to serve. Sprinkle with a little paprika if you like.

Why not serve your dips as part of a mezze?
Why not serve your dips as part of a mezze?

Easy peasy, lemon squeezy. As my children like to say. Both dips are a good accompaniment to crudités, breadsticks or warm pitta bread, or serve as part of a mezze.


I’m entering these dips into April’s Family Foodies challenge, hosted this month by Louisa at Eat Your Veg. The theme this month is Healthy Snacks. Do pop over there to take a look through the other recipes entered so far – there are some really good ones this month. In particular, I’ve got my eye on the Easy Peasy Mackerel Pate from Casa Costello, which looks delicious and wonderfully simple to make.


Egyptian dukkah spice mix

Dukkah with bread oil and vinegar

I discovered the delights of dukkah not so long ago at a great little pop-up restaurant in Frome called The High Pavement Evening Cafe, which I was rather excited to see will re-open later this year. Also written duqqa or dukka, this spicy Egyptian side dish consists of nuts, seeds, herbs and spices, toasted and then crushed up together to create something so simple and yet so incredibly delicious. I’m amazed I haven’t come across it before.

It was served to us at the start of our meal at The High Pavement as an accompaniment to bread alongside oil and vinegar. I was instantly hooked. When I tried making it myself at the weekend, I served it the same way. Homemade bread dipped in oil, then vinegar and then dukkah is just so, so good.

bread with dukkah

Admittedly I made it a little too spicy for the children and they weren’t impressed at all. Next time I’ll go a little easier on the paprika and perhaps they’ll get into it too. It is perfect finger food after all. But my husband and I got well and truly stuck in.

I found a hundred and one different ways to make dukkah on the internet; it seems to be the kind of dish you can play around with – lots. According to Wikipedia it’s typically made with hazelnuts but I didn’t happen to have any of those, so I went with almonds and walnuts. But you could use pistachio or just about any other type of nut you fancy really.


Similarly there are a hundred and one different ways to use dukkah. Sprinkle it onto salads and soups, over hummus and soured cream, use it as a crust for fish or a rub for meat, or as a topping for flat breads. I took some to work in my packed lunch the other day, bringing to life an otherwise boring cheese roll. It is very versatile.


40g chopped almonds
40g walnut pieces
2 tbsp sunflower seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp white mustard seeds
3 tbsp coriander seeds
1½ tbsp sesame seeds
1 tsp caraway seeds
½ tsp sea salt
1 tsp paprika (you may wish to adjust if serving to children)

Dry fry the almonds, walnuts and sunflower seeds in a hot frying pan until they just begin to turn a darker, golden colour. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

In the same pan, toast the fennel seeds for half a minute, then add the cumin seeds and toast for a further 30 seconds. Pour these into a bowl, separate from the nuts and sunflower seeds.

Next add the mustard and coriander seeds to the pan and toast for a minute or so, before tipping into another bowl.

Reduce the heat a little and toast the sesame and caraway seeds until the sesame starts to change colour. Place in yet another bowl.

Crush the fennel and cumin seeds in a pestle and mortar, before placing in an electric grinder along with the almonds, walnuts and sunflower seeds. Give them a quick whizz until you achieve a rough crumb texture and then pour into a bowl.

Lightly crush the mustard and coriander seeds in the pestle and mortar and add these to the dukkah bowl, followed by the sesame and caraway. Season with the salt and paprika (go easy if you have kids) and mix well.

There it is – you’re done. So, how will you eat yours?

I served mine in my gorgeous Brabantia dip servers, part of the fantastic prize I won last year at the MAD Blog Awards.


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Haricot bean and garlic dip
Haricot bean and garlic dip
Spicy Indian-style dips
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Middle Eastern chicken salad with hummus dressing

Spicy Indian-style dips

We love dips in our house. Whether they’re shop-bought or homemade, we always have a supply of dippy things in pots in our fridge – hummus, babaganoush, taramasalata, tzatsiki – perfect with a few breadsticks or carrot chunks for an impromptu snack when the children are peckish.

And we’re rather keen on our Indian food too. I reckon our girls developed a taste for Asian spices when they were in the womb. I craved curries during both pregnancies and in the final weeks, in particular, I consumed a vast quantity of particularly hot curries in a vain attempt to bring  on labour.

So when Warburtons recently got in touch to see if I’d like to test out some recipes created by TV chef Monisha Bharadwaj for a range of Indian-style dips to complement their new baked naan chips, I thought why the heck not?

As well as directing me to Monisha’s selections of recipes on Facebook, Warburtons kindly sent me some packets of their baked naan chips in ‘classic tikka’ and ‘fiery hot’ flavours to try with them.

I decided to test out two of the dip recipes. The two that appealed most were the manuka tamater ki chutney, made with tomatoes, raisins and spices, and a mint and sunflower seed chutney.

I found the mint and sunflower seed chutney a little too flavoursome, verging on pungent. So I mixed in some Greek yoghurt which calmed it down perfectly and made for a very tasty, creamy and refreshing dip. As well as mint, it contains lots of coriander, which I think always work so well together. The recipe also calls for a couple of chillies, but since I was trying this out on the kids I only used one so it wasn’t too hot for them.

The manuka tamater ki chutney was very good, although a tad on the sweet side. It features raisins, so I probably wouldn’t bother with the sugar as well next time. This was the dip the children liked best, although my husband and I preferred the mint and sunflower seed one.

While we rather liked the dips, I have to admit the baked naan chips weren’t really our cup of chai. Our eldest, Miss Mash didn’t think they were spicy enough but Miss Bangers, the four-year-old refused to eat them because they were too spicy. My husband and I could take them or leave them really. I also took a couple of packs into work to share with colleagues, and the response was similar – although during the course of a day they did all get eaten, so they can’t have been that bad!

Have you tried any of the Warburton dip recipes? If so, what did you think? And what do you reckon to the baked naan chips? How do you think they compare to their pitta chips?

Disclosure: I was provided with four complimentary packets of Warburton baked naan chips for the purposes of this review.

Haricot bean and garlic dip

I am rather partial to wraps at the moment. I like to eat them stuffed full of salad, cheese and different dips. They make for a really simple supper at the end of a busy day.

This haricot bean and garlic dip is  one of my favourites to have in a wrap. It’s also great served as part of a mezze. Similar to hummus, it is very cheap to make. The garlic is roasted with rosemary giving the dip a soft smoky flavour, which isn’t overpowering.

Haricot bean and garlic dip

4 heads of garlic
4 tbsp olive oil
2 stalks fresh rosemary
Salt and pepper
1 onion, peeled and chopped
1 (400g) tin haricot beans, drained and rinsed
1 tbsp ground cumin
5 tbsp soured cream
Juice of 1 lime
1 tsp paprika

Preheat oven to 190°C/gas 5.

Toss the garlic in two tablespoons of olive oil, salt and pepper, and then loosely wrap in foil along with the rosemary. Bake on a tray for around 45 minutes until the garlic is soft and the skins come off easily.

In a saucepan, heat the remaining oil and fry the onion until it is golden brown.

Squeeze the garlic out of their skins into a food processor with the onion, haricot beans, cumin, soured cream, lime juice and a little of the rosemary. Season well with salt and pepper. Blend until it resembles porridge. You don’t want it too smooth; it’s good to have a bit of texture. Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed.

Pour into your serving dish and garnish with a sprinkling of paprika.