Beetroot hummus with charred dippers

It's way too hot to stick anything in the oven right now, so instead I'm not ashamed to say I fantasized about beetroot hummus for most of Tuesday.

Beet hummus is a great way of brightening up some aperitifs or grab-and-go dinners, and is much lighter than regular hummus so you don't need to worry about filling up before a show-stopping main course. The deep pink shade of hummus coupled with the oily wrap dippers make a perfect understated entrance for guests and is refreshing enough to serve mid-heatwave.

I would team this with some giant green olives on ice and some herb toasted almonds, or just a few cold wheat beers and plenty of the dipper wraps pictured above and below.

Makes enough for four as a dip
4 beetroots, peeled and cut into quarters
1 tin of chickpeas, drained
2 garlic cloves, chopped small
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tbsp tahini
Juice of one lemon
Olive oil to taste

Plus flour wraps to serve

Boil the beetroot in salted water until they are soft and can be pierced with a fork. Once cooked, chop into smaller pieces to make it easier to blend.

In a large mixing bowl, add the chickpeas, garlic cloves, cumin, tahini and lemon juice, along with the chopped beetroot. Using a hand blender or mixer if you have one, blend until smooth. The consistency will be lighter than normal hummus, so don't be worried if it isn't as thick. Add olive oil and seasoning to taste once you've blended, and set aside.

For the charred dippers, use a griddle pan to fry flour wraps on a high heat with olive oil for a few seconds (about 10) on each side. Then chop into quarters or eighths and get scooping!

BBQ sessions: Sweet potato and lime falafel with plantain and lime and coriander hummus

The only thing funnier than British people moaning about the heat is British people moaning about moaning the heat. Rest assured, this blog is a no-moan zone. Why moan when you can eat falafel?

These sweet potato and lime falafels are uber easy and perfect for making in advance for a BBQ. They also use a lot less flour and oil than other versions that are fried. They're very soft when straight out the oven, but leave them for half an hour or so to cool and they firm up, and proved the perfect summer accompaniment to my packed lunch! Heck, they survived a 7 mile cycle into work- these things are a falafel miracle.

Makes enough for four servings

For the falafel:
1 large or 2 medium sweet potatoes
1 tsp ground cumin
2 garlic cloves, chopped small
1 handful fresh coriander
Juice of 1 lime
100g plain flour
1 tbsp oil

Heat the oven to 200C. Wrap the sweet potatoes in kitchen roll and microwave for 8-10 minutes, until they are cooked the whole way through (you can check with a fork). Allow to cool for a minute or two before taking off their skins, which you should be able to do with your fingers.

Add to a large mixing bowl with the cumin, garlic, coriander, lime juice, flour and a little seasoning, and mash until smooth. Using a teaspoon, shape the potato mix into falafel-sized balls, I usually get around 16-20 out of a batch. Depending on the consistency, you can add a little oil to make the mixture wetter, or chose to leave it out.

Place on a greased oven tray and bake for around 30 minutes. They are very soft whilst baking so I would resist the temptation to try and turn them and just let them cook through.

While they are cooking, slice the ends of the plantain and vertically score one side of each from tip to top. Wrap up the plantain tight with foil and stick it towards the bottom of the oven, to cook alongside the falafel, or prepare now and save to cook on the BBQ.

For the lime and coriander hummus, follow this Guac & Roll hummus recipe, but  instead of lemon juice, pomegranate seeds and paprika, add lime juice and stick with the coriander.

The falafel and plantain should be ready at the same time, so either allow to cool and pack up for a BBQ or begin stacking into pitta breads for a quick, light lunch in the sunshine, sans moan!

Paprika, pomegranate and lemon juice hummus

"But what do you do for protein?"

I've never made hummus before. It might sound ridiculous considering I eat chickpeas nearly every day now, but I always thought it was slightly more complicated than it was, a little bit trickier, a bit more expensive. In actual fact all you need is a reliable hand blender (no explosions please), some chickpeas, a bit of tahini, and anything else you want to flavour it with.

Naturally, I went a bit overboard for my first attempt, so added pomegranate seeds, paprika, pomegranate molasses, coriander and lemon to mine, but it might be better to focus on just one of those flavours. This batch of hummus lasted precisely 2 hours in my flat, so I guess the proof was in the total lack of leftovers!

Makes enough for 4
2 tins chickpeas, drained
2 garlic cloves, chopped small (if using a hand blender, or just crushed if using a larger blender as this will be able to handle the harder work)
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 pinch of salt
1 large tbsp tahini paste
2 tbsp water
Juice 1/2 lemon
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp paprika
Seeds of half a pomegranate
Handful of chopped coriander

Pour the majority of the chickpeas into a mixing bowl, holding back a small handful or so for serving. Add the garlic, cumin, salt, tahini, water, lemon juice, olive oil and paprika, and mix with a spoon just to get the liquid stirred in, before mixing with a hand blender.

Add more lemon juice, salt, olive oil, to taste, and then stir in a few pomegranate seeds to flavour the hummus. It should be a firm mixture, but looser than a paste.

To serve, top off with the rest of the pomegranate seeds, whole chickpeas, pomegranate molasses, coriander and a little more lemon juice.

And now for a bit of an apology for my absence:

What do I do for protein? I find it one of the strangest questions anyone can ask once you've told them you're vegan. There's a lot  more questions I'd expect- and yet 80% of the time, it comes back to this strange, peculiar obsession with protein.

Obviously, I know why people are concerned about protein- in general. I get that. I don't understand when they can hold a conversation with me and I am alive etc, why they would ask it, apart from the fact that it must be a total knee-jerk reaction, and maybe they just don't care about anything beneath asking a question back to a reply they didn't expect. Who knows. In any case, my inability to give that question a proper answer recently led to a mini hiatus from food blogging. I found myself with nothing to say apart from "Well, I eat chickpeas, everyday." Which is the truth, but it felt pretty limp in reply, especially after being told by someone I met 40 minutes beforehand that I was "unhealthy" and "selfish" for being vegan.

I didn't know how to reply, because I made a decision around a year ago not to be someone that reels off statistics when people start cross examining a vegan diet. I think if people haven't looked for those figures themselves, they become very easy to block out. I managed to do it for 22 years. In my month away from Guac and Roll I wanted to do more research, question whether writing a food blog was really the best way to start a conversation on veganism. I read a lot more studies, watched more documentaries (we need to talk about sugar, btw) but in the end, I came around full circle: I love sharing the recipes I've discovered, talking about them with friends in the park, researching where those recipes come from and adapting them to suit a vegan or vegan and gluten free diet.

There are plenty of vegan diets that are unhealthy, just as there are many, many, omnivorous diets that are also pretty unhealthy. Guac and Roll isn't ever going to be a call to arms, but hopefully something a lot more subtle.

A lunch bunch

Working from home sure does have its bonuses- ridiculously tasty lunches such as this one being a case in point. Cous cous salad, broad bean falafel and hummus all from Sainsbury's, who get extra snaps for their amazing vegan labeling, and bought by my Dad, who gets snaps for spending 20 minutes deciphering ingredients lists in the hummus aisle.

Anyway, falafel aside, here's a few links related to veganism that I've been perusing lately, which are the perfect length for a lunchtime read (i.e. the time of day where it's okay to spill cous cous all over your desk after missing your mouth as you're looking at the screen and not the spoon... good work).

So, what is an ethical vegan? By Sali Owen, or, No, it's not like the time you tried the South Beach diet.

Forget meat – there's a world of vegetarian food out there By Lagusta Yearwood, let's talk tamales yeah?

Food shortages could force world into vegetarianism, warn scientists By John Vidal, looking at a new recipe to feed the future, and some great stats on agriculture for the next person that tells you soy beans are also bad for the planet.