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Living in Calasparra does have its limitations especially on the culinary front. For years the local shops and supermarkets have catered for the Calasparra diet and many vegetables, spices, sauces etc which we are used to being able to buy freely are simply not available.
On a recent visit from my son´s Canadian girlfriend I was lamenting the absence of Tahini paste to make dips such as Hummus. Just use Peanut Butter, she announced.
I was slightly wary but I decided to give it a try and the result was simply amazing. Hummus has now become a regular feature of our diet and with our crisp ecological vegetables as crudités is a special favourite!
Here are three recipes for three cheap and delicious vegetable dips: great for entertaining or just for a simple supper by the pool.

Aubergine Purée
2 aubergines
4 to 5 tablespoons of olive oil
3 tablespoons of fresh chopped parsley
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
Juice of one lemon
Salt and pepper
Optional or for a change: 1 heaped tablespoon  of tahini paste or peanut butter

Make long slits in the sides of the aubergines and then  char or bake until they are soft right through (about 15 to 20 minutes). Leave them to cool. Peel and chop them letting the juices strain away. Blend the flesh in a liquidizer. Add the oil gradually stirring all the time and then mix in other ingredients. Season to taste. Cool.
Pour a little good olive oil over before serving and stud with black olives and fresh parsley.

4oz of cooked chick peas (cook for about one and a half hours in water with salt and I add a bay leaf, an onion and a carrot):
4 tablespoons of Tahini or peanut butter
Juice of half a lemon
I clove garlic, crushed (I use at least two cloves)
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil to garnish with black olives and cayenne pepper

Cook the dried chick peas and reserve some of the cooking liquid in case your mixture is too stiff.
Place all the ingredients in a blender or food processor and work until it is a smooth cream. Add cooking liquid from the chick peas if it is too stiff. Check the seasoning. Cool.
Sprinkle with olive oil, black olive and cayenne pepper before serving.

Red Bean Chilli Dip
2 tablespns of olive oil
1 small onions, chopped
I clove garlic, crushed
I tspn chilli powder
I tspn of ground cumin
I tablespn tomato purée
I tablespn red wine vinegar
4oz dried red kidney beans or pinto beans cooked in water for 1 and half hours
4oz carton of cream cheese (I used the Día standard cream  cheese)
2oz grated cheese
Salt and pepper

Heat the oil in a small pan, add the onion and the garlic and fry gently for 4 mins. Add the spices and fry for I min and then stir in tomato purée and vinegar. Leave to cool.
Place the beans, cheeses and onion mixture into a blender and work until the consistency is like mayonnaise. Add a little water if necessary. Check the seasoning and adjust. Serve cool.

NEXOnr Calasparra