Posted inLifestyle

Spice up your (WFH) life

With my ego sufficiently shattered after nine rejections from Tesco and Co-op during the first lockdown, I concluded it was time to turn my attentions elsewhere. Cooking was both vaguely productive and meant that I wasn’t roped into the next ‘rationalisation’ of the cupboard under the stairs or the assembling of yet another piece of unnecessary Ikea furniture. I’ve always been a fan of cooking, but in the past year I’ve become obsessed. Plugging in a podcast and cooking up some great food is an amazing way to have some time to yourself, with the added bonus of getting praise for your efforts. 

This term, working from home has been pretty challenging in terms of finding a rhythm that works. Structuring my day around set mealtimes/coffee breaks has been super helpful. At lunchtime, grabbing something quick but tasty is sometimes something of a challenge, and I often find myself having to revert to marmite on toast (an elite dish). This is often the case when my brother is cooking his signature dish – ‘fluorescent pasta’. I tried it once. It’s definitely best avoided. 

Anyway, when I manage to make lunch slightly more interesting, it rocks. So, I’ve put together some recipes for four dips that can be put on bread, added to a salad box, or even eaten on their own (with the exception of pesto). These are super quick to prepare, whilst also being really tasty, and all of them – except from the avocado – keep in the fridge for a couple of weeks, so can be made in industrial quantities. A quick disclaimer: these dips contain copious amounts of garlic so are more suited to working from home than finding a lover. 

Baba Ganoush – smoky aubergine dip (vg)

You will need:

  • 1 aubergine 
  • Juice of ½ a lemon
  • Crushed garlic clove

Put the aubergine on a baking tray and whack in the oven for about half an hour until it is burnt. By this, I mean completely burnt – entirely black on the outside. Your flatmates should be asking what the burning smell is. 

Once this burning is complete, cut the aubergine in half and spoon out the smoky flesh into a bowl. Use a potato masher to get it into a paste-like texture. Add your lemon and garlic, and salt to taste.

Pesto (v)

You will need

  • 2x supermarket sized packs of basil (you can use rocket too)
  • Handful of pine nuts (almonds or cashews work too)
  • Lots of olive oil
  • Decent chunk of parmesan (if you’re feeling classy) or cheddar (if you’re cooking on a budget)
  • ½ garlic clove (optional)

Blend all the ingredients in a food processor, give it a try and add whatever you would like more of. This one will last in the fridge literally forever.

Hummus (vg)

You will need:

  • 400g tin of chickpeas
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • About 5 tbsp of tahini
  • 1 garlic clove
  • Splash of water
  • Cumin (optional)

Blend all the ingredients in a food processor. Add water to adjust texture, and some cumin if you’re feeling adventurous (would highly recommend). Blend for longer than you think it needs to make it nice and smooth. Sprinkle on some paprika if you want it to look sexy.

Feta and avocado dip (v)

You will need: 

  • 1 avocado
  • ¼ pack of feta
  • Lots of olive oil
  • Pepper 
  • Pine nuts

SMASH the avocado with lots of olive oil and pepper (and a bit of salt too), crumble over the feta, and give it a quick mix. Sprinkle some toasted pine nuts over it. 

I hope you enjoy these recipes! And, if you don’t have a blender, Lakeland’s mini chopper is £16.99 – game changer. 

Cover photo: Nicholas Barbaros on Unsplash

Article illustrations: Katy Nicol (oil pastels +drawing ink)