Dynamic duo: Summer food from The Happy Pear

The Happy Pear share their favourite vegetarian recipes for summer with Ciara McDonnell. 

"WE LOVE the summer.” Twins Dave and Steve Flynn, aka The Happy Pear, are as exuberant as ever when we get together to chat warm weather food. 

The duo have had their most successful year to date, with their first book selling in numbers exceeding 100,000 and their second, The World Of The Happy Pear looking set for similar success.

“The book sales have far exceeded our expectations,” Dave tells me from their home in Greystones, Co Wicklow.

“It’s helped us to share our dream of making it easier for people to be healthier and happier. 

"The World of the Happy Pear was named Cookbook of the Year at the Irish Book Awards in November, and continues to be a bestseller, and we’ve just finished work on our third cookbook, to be published in spring 2018, which will be packed full of practical information as well as loads of our trademark delicious Happy Pear recipes.”

Summer is the guys’ favourite time of year, both for eating and socialising.

“There is plenty of ripe fruit, the weather is warm, everyone wants to eat healthy and be outside, and everyone is more extroverted,” laughs Steve.

“Also, nectarines, cherries, peaches, Paraguaya peaches (flat peaches) and Saturn/Doughnut peaches are all in season. 

"In Ireland, strawberries, raspberries and rhubarb are all in season and even Irish cherries - these all excite us, plus the opportunity to go have more picnics and more outdoor dining, which we really adore.”

“We always feel at our best eating outdoors,“ agrees Dave. 

“We like nothing more than being outside, barefoot in the garden with the sun shining. Our family are all at the table and whoever else shows up - we always have an open door policy, particularly during the summer months.”

When it comes to the menu, the Flynn twins favour variety.

“There will be loads of dips, sourdough bread, kimchi and sauerkraut, avocados, asparagus, purple sprouting broccoli. On the BBQ there will be loads of things — aubergines, peppers, and asparagus. Then kombucha or water kefir to wash it all down.”

Steve says preparation is the ultimate tool when it comes to creating stress-free veggie feasts.

“The more you can prepare in advance the better, we reckon. Whizz up some nice dips and pestos, slice some nice sourdough bread, and include some olives. A smorgasbord of loveliness is always a hit with people.”

When it comes to grilling vegetables, Irish vegetables are ideal, according to Dave.

“Blanch some purple sprouting broccoli before grilling it for a few minutes, and kale does really well as long as you are conscious of time,” he enthuses. “Boil some potatoes and slice them really thinly before barbequing them and Irish sweetcorn and asparagus is literally made for the barbeque.”

The twins have a demanding schedule, but say work has changed them for the better.

“We feel very fulfilled and we’re very grateful for it. We get to work with really wonderful people. It’s just made life more fun and we get to meet lots of beautiful people along the way… and eat amazing food all the time,” says Dave. Steve attributes their diet and lifestyle to their ability to maintain their workload.

“We follow a whole foods and plant-based diet,” he explains. “So basically, fruit, veg, beans and wholegrains. We exercise loads and drink lots of water, and that definitely helps.”

With two new Happy Pear locations in the works during 2017 and new products to complement their range of smoothies, snack bars, pesto, hummus, soup, granola and sprouts, Dave and Steve’s mission to educate the world about healthy eating is well on its way. 

As true devotees of the lifestyle they end our chat because they have an important appointment to keep — a daily splash in the Irish Sea.

TOP TIPS FOR SUMMER ENTERTAINING

Make sure to invite people you enjoy spending time with.

Hopefully the weather will be on your side and if not try to be prepared (as if often rains!) but inside can be cool too.

Have a variety of foods, and it doesn’t need to be food that takes ages to prepare. Try dips, sourdough breads, grilled veg. Simple things are often the most elegant and the tastiest.

Prepare lots in advance from salads to our 5-minute burgers. Things like this go perfectly on a BBQ (we’ve spent many a summer barbecuing out under an umbrella — don’t let the weather ruin a good party!).

GRILLED HALLOUMI BURGER WITH CHILLI KETCHUP AND TAHINI MAYO

Serves 2-4

  • 1 courgette
  • 1 aubergine
  • 1 red pepper
  • 5 tablespoons
  • olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 x 200g pack of halloumi cheese
  • 4 burger buns or wholemeal pittas
  • Homemade ketchup
  • Happy Pear mayo
  • 50g rocket or similar greens

Start by prepping your veg. Cut the courgette in half and then into thin strips lengthwise. Slice the aubergines lengthwise into thin strips.

Chop the pepper vertically into four large sections, discarding the core with the seeds. Chop the halloumi into 4 thin rectangular slices.

Put the cut veg into a large bowl with 4 tablespoons of the oil and the salt. Mix well until they all have a nice even coating.

Start to grill the prepared veg on a hot barbecue, turning regularly. They need to be nicely charred but also soft and tender.

Remove your cooked veg from the grill and set aside while you cook the halloumi. It will cook very quickly. Put it on the barbecue until it has nice grill marks on each side, about 5 minutes.

Toast the buns on the barbecue, then layer them up with some homemade ketchup on the bottom bun, Happy Pear mayonnaise on the top bun, grilled courgettes, aubergine, halloumi, roasted peppers and some rocket in between.

Alternatively you can spread the inside of your toasted pitta pocket with ketchup and mayo on either side and fill with your halloumi, veg and greens.

CHOCOLATE CHILLI WITH CORNBREAD

SERVES 6

For the chocolate chilli:

  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 2 medium leeks
  • 2 red peppers
  • 1 whole fresh chilli or ½ teaspoon ground chilli
  • 1 courgette
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 2½ teaspoons salt
  • 1 x 400g tin of kidney beans
  • 2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
  • 100g tomato puree
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • a small bunch of fresh coriander (20g)
  • juice of ½ a lime
  • 50g dark chocolate For the cornbread:
  • 1 tablespoons ground flax seeds
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 130g fine polenta
  • 85g buckwheat flour/rice flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoons salt
  • 80ml honey/agave syrup
  • 90ml rice milk
  • 60ml rapeseed oil To assemble:
  • 100g baby spinach 

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4.

Peel and finely chop the garlic. Slice the leeks into rounds, including the green tops. Deseed the peppers and, if using fresh chilli, deseed and finely slice it lengthways. Chop the courgette into bite-size pieces.

Heat the oil in a big saucepan and fry the leeks and garlic on a medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring regularly to make sure they don’t burn. 

Add the courgette and peppers along with the chilli, whole cumin seeds and salt. Fry for 5 minutes.

Drain the kidney beans and rinse thoroughly. Add to the pan together with the tinned tomatoes, tomato puree, ground coriander, ground cumin, paprika and black pepper. 

Turn the heat up to high and bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer, add the chocolate and leave to simmer for a further 10 minutes.

Finely chop the coriander and mix it into the chilli with the lime juice. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.

To make the cornbread, first mix the ground flax and water together in a small bowl to make ‘flax eggs’. Leave to sit for 10 minutes. 

Mix the rest of the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, mix all the wet ingredients, then add the ‘flax eggs’ and stir in. Add the wet mix to the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly until they form a dough. 

Put the chilli into a shallow pie dish (or an approx. 25cm quiche dish), spreading it evenly. Cover the chilli with the spinach leaves. 

Top it off with the cornbread dough, then put into the preheated oven and bake for 15 minutes. Serve with a simple green salad and sour cream (or coconut yoghurt if you are dairy-free).

HAPPY PEAR EGG-FREE PAVLOVA

Serves 4 – 6 

  • Liquid from 1 x 400g tin of chickpeas 
  • 125g caster sugar 

To layer and top your pavlova:

  • 4 x 400ml tins of full-fat coconut milk (refrigerated overnight) 
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract 
  • 300g soft fruit of your choice 
  • A few mint leaves 

Preheat the oven to 110’C/225’F/gas mark ¼.

In a clean bowl, whisk the chickpea liquid for 10 minutes, using an electric hand whisk. It will become thick, stiff and creamy, with soft peaks.

Sprinkle in the caster sugar gradually and keep whisking, adding the sugar into the mixture for a further 5 minutes.

Get out two baking trays. Using the base of a 23cm spring-form tin, draw a circle on a sheet of baking parchment. Draw a second circle beside it. You should be able to draw two circles on each baking tray. All together you’ll draw four circles.

Spoon the meringue mix to fill your marked circles, then put the two baking trays into the preheated oven for 2 ½ hours.

When they are ready, take them out, leave to cool for 40 minutes, and carefully peel off the baking parchment.

Skim the cream from the top of each tin of coconut milk. Put into a bowl and add the vanilla extract and 2 tablespoons of the clear coconut milk from the cans. Whisk with an electric whisk for 1 minute to bring it all together and remove any lumps.

Place your base layer of meringue on a flat plate and spread with a layer of coconut cream. Top with fruit of your choice (such as fresh raspberries/strawberries/passion fruit/kiwi/mango). 

Repeat until you are left with a last layer of meringue to put on top, and then finish with some coconut cream, and decorate with fruit and mint leaves. Enjoy!


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