Combining food with watercolour to create delicious food illustrations

I’m always on the look-out for creative people that combine food with every form of art. Artists that create vibrant and almost edible food illustrations. Musicians that compose with the plate in mind, writers that blend the pleasure of eating with the intellectuality of prose, and photographers that let food be the basis of their work.

food illustrations

If you enjoy the wholesome act of cooking, the gluttony that goes with eating or simply the beauty that the earth and the sea provide, then you will appreciate artists like Kari Gale who illustrate with fine watercolour and pen. Her drawings have a distinctively natural raw style and prove the perfect contrast to the finely-filtered images that fill our collective visual memory.

I connected with Kari through the sometimes serendipitous world wide web and we agreed to a special recipe that would showcase my skills in the kitchen and hers at the easel.

food illustrations

I love combining the sea with the land and as well as the different cultures I have embodied, experienced and lived in. I make one particular dish that starts with a roasted carrot hummus (I learn the original in Tel Aviv) topped with charred octopus (a friend catches these with his bare hands from the same beach I swim at), a chimichurri combined with hazelnut, raisin and mint and finally pomegranate for that sweet pop.

food illustrations

There is so much fusion and the vibrant food illustrations prove this crazy mix, but for me the plate is still most definitely Spanish. There are no tricks to my cooking (mainly because I don’t know them!) but I do know how to make food, particularly vegetables, that surprise in the most delicious way.


4 thick octopus tentacles (pre-cooked to tender)

1 cup of cooked chickpeas

1/2 cup of natural yogurt

Zest from 1 orange

Juice from 1 lemon

1 tsp of ground cumin

1/2 tsp of ground turmeric

4 carrots (about 200g), peeled

3 tbsp sherry vinegar

100ml extra virgin olive oil

Sea salt

Cracked black pepper

Chimichurri spice mix

100g hazelnuts, roasted and without skins

50g of raisins

1 small bunch of fresh mint

1 medium pomegranate, seeds removed

food illustrations


Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius then add the carrots in a baking tray seasoned with 2 tbsp of olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast for 15 minutes until beginning to darken then remove and let cool. To make the hummus, add to blender chickpeas, carrots, 2 tbsp of olive oil, yogurt, turmeric, orange zest, sherry vinegar, lemon juice, a pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper. Blend until smooth then adjust for seasoning and consistency and set aside.

food illustrations

Prepare the chimichurri by mixing 2 tbsp of chimichurri spice mix with 2 tbsp of olive oil, finely chopped hazelnuts, raisins, 1 tbsp of sherry vinegar, and finely chopped mint. Mix well then set aside.

Drizzle another 4 tbsp in a fry pan and heat until sizzling. Add the octopus tentacles and fry until golden and becoming charred then remove.

Spread hummus on the plate then top with octopus tentacles and spoon over the chimichurri dressing then sprinkle pomegranate seeds over the top.

food illustrations

More fresh recipes and stories from in and out of the kitchen available in Modern Spanish Kitchen.

Kari is a illustrator/writer from Portland, Oregon specialising in food and travel. She recently spent 15 months living, walking, painting and writing in Portugal, Spain, France and the UK. She documented the entire journey in her journal with pen/ink and watercolour and shared these experiences through word and image on her blog. She published her first book ‘The Art of Walking: An Illustrated Journey on the Camino de Santiago‘ in June of 2015, and in the summer of 2016 exhibited her work in Santiago de Compostela and Finnisterre in Northwest Spain. You can find out more about Kari and her work on her website.