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These chickpea cakes are delicious. I pondered what to call them as they are not a cake as such, but they are slightly gooey and incredibly moreish, so I thought they are like cake in that respect. Mole originates from Mexico and generally means a thick, spicy sauce. This one is almost like a pesto.

Serves 4 


For the pickled celery:

2 stalks celery

50ml white wine vinegar

20g caster sugar

1 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds

1 clove


For the chickpea cakes:

100g gram flour, plus extra for dusting

30g yellow, quick cook polenta

1/4 teaspoon toasted cumin seeds, finely crushed

50g chickpeas

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 tablespoon tahini

1 teaspoon table salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

2 tablespoons flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

vegetable oil, for deep frying

1 Butternut squash

2 tablespoon olive oil

sea salt and freshly milled black pepper

1 sprig of rosemary

1 tablespoon non dairy butter


For the mole:

1 tablespoon harissa paste

100g pumpkin seeds, toasted

1 tablespoon tahini

2 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon coriander, finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted


Begin by pickling the celery. Finely slice the celery. Place everything else in a medium sized saucepan and add 50ml water. Place the saucepan on a high heat and bring to the boil for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly. Pour over the celery. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

For the chickpea cake, line a 23cm square cake tin with clingfilm. Place all the ingredients, apart from the parsley, in a medium sized saucepan. Mix together then whisk in 400ml cold water.

Place the saucepan over a medium heat and cook, stirring frequently, for 10-15 minutes, until the mix begins to leave the sides of the pan. Stir in the parsley then pour the mixture into the cake tin. Spread as flat as possible, using a wet spatula. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Tip out onto a chopping board and portion into 8 rectangles. Store in the fridge until ready to use.

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Peel the butternut squash, cut in half lengthways and remove the seeds using a spoon. Place the skin and seeds into a medium sized pan, with the rosemary, and cover with water. Place over a medium heat and bring to a simmer for 1 hour. Meanwhile, dice the squash flesh into 2cm cubes. Toss in the oil, season well with salt and pepper then place on a baking sheet or roasting tray. Roast for 15-20 minutes until golden. After 1 hour, drain off the stock and discard the skin, seeds and rosemary. Set aside.

Pick out half of the nice cubes of squash then put the remaining roasted squash into a saucepan and cover with the stock. Simmer for 10 minutes. Strain off the flesh, keeping the liquid. Place the squash and the sunflower spread into a blender. Add a little of the liquid and blitz until smooth, adding more of the liquid if necessary, to form a thick purée. Season to taste, set aside to keep warm.

For the mole, place all ingredients in the blender and blitz until a smooth sauce is formed.

To serve, heat the vegetable oil in a non stick frying pan until hot. Dust the cakes with flour and place in the pan. Colour on each side. Serve with the warm purée, roasted squash, mole and pickled celery.

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