Dippage dips

Like most Irish people my age, I went to a Catholic school, and as such got loads of exposure to all the bible stories. One in particular always stood out in my mind: the story of the last supper. The reason being, that I could never understand how wine and bread could constitute a meal. As an eight year old, this was probably the detail that bothered me the most, which suggests I may have slightly missed the point.

Fast forward 17 or so years to a Friday night in one of the brilliant Italian restaurants on Millennium Walk in Dublin and I had an epiphany (most probably helped along by at least half a bottle of Chianti and this fantastic mural).Of course wine and bread could make up a dinner! How had I been so stupid all these years? All you need is to add a little balsamic vinegar, some extra virgin olive oil, maybe a few marinated olives and hey presto – you have the best dinner in the world!

And the word for this new dining sensation? Dippage. Yumo, delicious, dippage.

Ask any of my friends – they will concur that I am a dippage fanatic. I think it’s totally acceptable to serve some olives, maybe some char-grilled veggies, an array of dips, balsamic oil and vinegar with crusty bread and call it dinner.

One of my favourite dippage dips is hummus, it’s all kinds of yum and apparently it’s good for you too. Brilliant.

Roasted red-pepper hummus

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Yumbo feta and chickpea salad

Salads: Love them? Hate them? Nothing them?

Mmmmm? This is a difficult one.

When I was a small child, I don’t remember ever having salad. Then at some point in the latter half of the eighties, Ireland must have discovered iceberg lettuce. And thus began the many crimes against salad that my poor home country is so guilty of. Wet. Limp. Tasteless. Familiar to anyone?

“Eat your salad, it’s good for you” my mam would growl across the dinner table; leaving my brother and me with the firm belief that anything good for you couldn’t, and probably shouldn’t, taste nice.

Then the nineties rolled around and with them the Celtic tiger. We were suddenly awash with such foreign goodies as sun-blush tomatoes and balsamic vinegar. Things in the salad department were suddenly starting to look up. And in fairness, we’ve come a long way since then: like Iarnród Éireann, we’re not there yet, but we’re getting there.

These Australians on the other hand, they have this whole salad-making lark down. They know their stuff and they are not afraid to flaunt it. This recipe was given to me by The Fella’s sister; she’s a great cook and always willing to share her secrets. I think this salad actually started out as a way to serve feta from Falling Cloudberries by Tessa Kiros. But, it has now morphed almost beyond all recognition into a hearty dinner salad (yes, a salad can be hearty!). Just serve with a crispy bread roll on the side and you’ve a super tasty meal for two.

I know some of you will be tempted to skimp on the garlic, but don’t be afraid of it! It totally makes this salad. You’d do it an injustice by skimping, and salads have been done enough injustice already.

Yumbo feta and chickpea salad

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