A. Vasudevan, The Literary Shed
That time is upon us – the World Cup and Wimbledon – great excuses for getting together with mates to watch a match or two. The ghosts of World Cups past, in particular, remind me of my late brother who, at the drop of a hat, used football as an excuse for a party – so lots of cold beer and bags of tortillas with jar dips usually. That was well and good, but there are better options. Grazing food’s perfect for when you’re not sure of numbers and also for being on tap to soak up the booze – plus you don’t want to be left with mounds of washing up. As it’s so hot, we’ve gone for a few Latin American-esque options that can be eaten separately, together or dressed up or down with salad leaves and pitta bread/wraps.   

Oven-roasted sweet potato chips
Who doesn’t like a chip? But why not use sweet potatoes rather than normal tatties?

1lb sweet potatoes, chopped into finger wedges
3 romano peppers, deseeded and cut into strips
Several glugs of extra virgin olive oil
Herbs of choice (herbs de Provence is a good option)
A good pinch of red chilli flakes
½ tsp smoked paprika
Himalayan salt to taste
Squeeze of lemon

1. Preheat the oven to 200C.
2. In a saucepan of salted boiling water, heat the sweet potatoes for 10 minutes or until parboiled. Drain and set aside.
3. In a bowl, mix the olive oil, pepper strips and dry ingredients. Add the potatoes and stir, making sure all the chips are coated with the mixture.
4. Transfer to a foil-lined baking tray and leave to cook for 40 minutes, or until crisp.

For more bulk, add slithers of mature cheddar or feta to the chips about five minutes before you take them out of the oven.

Serve with spicy tomato ketchup (see below).

Black bean and sweetcorn patties
I prefer oven baking to deep fat frying, partly for health reasons, but also because I’d prefer to have a glass of something and be part of things, rather than hear everyone cheer or scream while I ‘glow’ over a hot stove in another room. These patties, or ‘burgers’, if you prefer, are tasty, nutritious and moreish. The beauty is they can be prepared in advance and are great hot or cold. They’re perfect finger food for the World Cup and are a nod to the Central and Latin American teams.

400g black beans
(carton or tin), drained
800g sweet corn kernels, cooked
1 tbsp turmeric
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp
Herbs of choice
Salt and pepper to season
Glug of extra virgin olive oil
2/3 handfuls of panko (100g of chickpea flour/gram can be substituted)

1. Line a flat oven tray with greaseproof paper and put to one side.
2. In a bowl, mix the ingredients (except panko and paprika and keeping some herbs back) and blend with a handstick into a rough paste.
3. Cover with a cloth and put to one side for half an hour.
4. In a wide-lipped bowl, mix the panko, smoked paprika and leftover herbs.
5. Take a palmful of the bean–sweetcorn mixture and shape into a flat disk about 1cm thick. Press the pattie into the panko mix, until fully coated.
6. Place on the tray. Repeat, until all the mixture has been used up.
7. Cover with cling film. Leave in the fridge for an hour or until you want to use.
8. When ready, bake in an oven at 180 degrees Celsius for 20 minutes, or until brown.

Serve with soft tortillas, spicy tomato ketchup and smashed yuzu avocado.

For the ketchup
In a saucepan, over a medium heat cook for half an hour 500g good tomato passata, 1 finely chopped clove of garlic, a good glug of good balsamic vinegar, ½ tsp dark muscovado sugar, a pinch of mixed herbs, cinnamon and cayenne pepper. Season to taste. Leave to cool and then decant into jars. Keep refrigerated or freeze on the day of making. A great basic ketchup.

Smashed avocado
Fork together the pulp of a couple of chilled ripe avocados, a good glug of yuzu juice and a pinch of salt until almost smooth. If you don’t have yuzu (available from Sainsbury’s and Waitrose, plus good Asian supermarkets), which truly makes it zing, substitute the juice of half a lime.

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