inspiration2022/04/06

Our Q&A and recipe from plant passionate advocate Bettina Campolucci Bordi

by Emma Foreman

Bettina Campolucci Bordi is a self taught chef, author and Founder of Bettina’s Kitchen
We caught up with Bettina in line with our April theme of Environmentalism to hear more about Bettina’s Kitchen, her passion for plant-based cooking and to get some tips around eating to boost your mood.

Where did your passion for plant-based cooking come from?

I’ve been passionate about food and cooking forever – food was a huge thing growing up! I spent my first 11 years in Tanzania, East Africa, in a family that loved to cook, eat and celebrate. My grandmothers were also great cooks – both my green fingered Norwegian grandmother and my Bulgarian grandmother who used to have a restaurant back in the day.

The plant-based part came much later when I started running and cooking on Wellness Retreats in Southern Spain about 10 years ago. We followed an ‘eat the rainbow’ philosophy on these retreats and we had access to beautifully fresh farm produce which ignited in me a passion for plant-based foods and their goodness.

What is Bettina’s Kitchen?

It's an Octopus with many tentacles! It consists of 4 parts. The first part is Wellness Retreats that I run and freelance on all over the word and My Retreat Chef Academy where I teach budding chefs how to cook and run their own Retreats. The 2nd Part consists of my Website, Bettina’s Kitchen, which houses 100's of recipes, restaurant and travel reviews and my Online courses. My social media @bettinas_kitchen is where I  share recipes and, on occasion, work with brands, developing recipes for them, and it’s also where I share bits from my personal life. The 3rd part of my business is recipe consulting/development for food and beverage outlets and occasional pop ups and, last but not least, the 4th part includes my 3 cookbooks that I have written over the last 4 years, my latest one being Celebrate featuring plant-based recipes for every occasion.

Can you give us a little more insight into your experience as a retreat chef, where around the world has this taken you?

I have been running and freelancing on retreats for the past 10 years though, as you can imagine, these past two years have been tricky with the pandemic and travel restrictions that came with it. When I started out there were definitely not as many retreats around as there are now. It was a relatively new thing and nowhere near the big industry that it is today. I think more than ever people need holidays that are not only relaxing but also do you good!

 I have been to Iceland, Zanzibar, Azores, Mongolia, Costa Rica, Bali – these are just more of the unusual places. 

You’re a great believer for eating to boost your mood. What 3 tips would you suggest to our readers,  who might be looking to incorporate more plant-based recipes into their diet, in order to make them feel happier?

Eat as locally and as seasonally as possible - it will taste better and be better for you! We have an amazing season coming up. Add as much colour and texture as possible, remember we feast with our eyes first. Last but definitely not least: keep it simple  and delicious.

You already have 3 amazing cookbooks under your belt, what’s next?

Another one hopefully that's even more focused on sustainability.

What’s your favourite thing to eat at this time of year?

Spring foods: asparagus, peas, spring greens, leeks, rhubarb, so many things - it's the beginning of so many good things to come!

What other chefs or eateries do you admire at the moment?

I am loving Acme Fire Cult, Warehouse, and, of course, my old favourite Fallow in St James’.

Tell us why you love Wolf & Badger.

I love the individuality of all the pieces and that you can find - special items that not everyone has. A big plus is that a lot of the items are sustainably sourced. There is also a great story behind each brand which is lovely. I have always been a fan!

Green Chickpea Dippers with Chipotle Mayo

Celebrate by Bettina Campolucci Bordi

These make a great little starter and are the ultimate finger food – a mouthful that is oh-so satisfactory and a taster for things to come. I like wrapping these in baby gem lettuces with a dollop of creamy chipotle for good measure.

Note: The dried chickpeas will need soaking overnight, so bear this in mind when planning this dish.

Makes 18 dippers

Method

  • Drain and rinse the chickpeas that you soaked overnight.
  • Blitz all the ingredients for the dippers (except the olive oil) in a food processor or blender until smooth.
  • Using two large spoons, take 1 tablespoon of the dipper mixture and form into quenelles. Shallow-fry in olive oil in a frying pan (skillet) for a few minutes, turning to brown all sides. Repeat until you have used up all the mixture (about 18 dippers).
  • To make the chipotle mayo, mix both ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
  • To serve, separate individual baby gem lettuce leaves and arrange in a single layer on a platter. Place a chickpea dipper on each lettuce leaf and drizzle with the chipotle mayo and Sriracha sauce.

Ingredients

For the dippers:

  • 250 g (9 oz/ 1 cup) dried chickpeas, soaked overnight in a large bowl of water
  • 1⁄2 shallot, diced
  • handful of spinach leaves
  • 1 tablespoon tahini
  • juice of 1⁄2 lemon
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • pinch of salt
  • olive oil, for shallow-frying

For the chipotle mayo:

  • 200 g (7 oz/3⁄4 cup) plant mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle oil or a pinch of chipotle powder

To serve:

  • 1–2 baby gem lettuce heads
  • Sriracha sauce

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