In our family we like to make the most of the long Summer days by spending time outdoors.

Whether it be swimming in the river, picnics by the lake or just hanging out with the hose and the paddling pool at home, we are all happy outside. Our food reflects this casual vibe. We spend less time in the kitchen opting for plentiful salads and some quick meats on the BBQ, or the family favourite ‘The Platter’.

Here are my quick tips for making a platter that is fit for family and any unexpected guests that stop by.

– start from the middle and work out, using greenery (spinach from our garden here) underneath the cheeses and then add your dips in interesting bowls or jars

– fill in all the gaps, use nuts, berries, herbs and flowers to cover the spaces, this gives a feel of abundance.

– add a splash of colour, we eat with our eyes first so this beetroot dip is perfect for giving you some wow factor with minimal effort

Roasted Beetroot, Balsamic & Chickpea Dip

You need
2 x medium beetroot (or 1 x large) cut in half

a handful of woody herbs, I used rosemary and oregano

1 x 420gm can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained and a few chickpeas reserved for decorating the top

1 x lemon

1 x small clove of garlic, finely chopped

1 x small onion, cut to a small dice

3 Tablespoons of Olive Oil + extra for roasting

2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Salt & Pepper

Items to decorate the top for serving. Here I used a selection of nuts, flat leaf parsley, pomegranate seeds, and chickpeas. I like to aim for a contrast in colour to make the pink pop!

Method
• Preheat over to 180c

• Place beetroot on individual pieces of foil, top the cut side with a splash of olive oil, salt & Pepper and a couple of pieces of your woody herbs. Wrap tightly and place on a tray in the oven.

• The cooking time will vary depending on the size of your beetroot but check after 45min by sticking a skewer in to see if they are soft. When cooked take out and leave to cool enough that they can be handled.

• In a frying pan on a medium heat sauté your onion in a little oil until translucent, add the garlic and cook for 3 minutes before setting aside.

• In the bowl of the food processor add chick peas, zest and juice of half the lemon, 2 tablespoons of oil and half the balsamic. Salt and pepper. Onion & garlic mixture.

• Once the beets have cooled, discard the herbs, and peel the beetroot. Usually easy enough to push the skin off with your hands but may need a knife to get the tough areas. chop roughly & add to food processor.

• Whiz up. If it needs more liquid to get moving add the rest of your olive oil. scrape the sides and whiz again. Taste. This is where you may like to add more balsamic, lemon juice or salt.

• Decorate and add to your abundant platter.

• This low fat dip is dairy free, gluten free, and if you left the nuts off the top would be nut free too.

• If you have leftover dip, it is fantastic in a salad, served with veggie fritters or in a beef burger with blue cheese.

This entire platter is vegan including the cheese.

Enjoy your Summer with friends, family and fuss free, healthy food.
xx Jana