Tuesday, 22 August 2006

Mediterranean Meze Dinner

Mmm, we had a yummy dinner tonight. It was inspired from our favorite Middle Eastern restaurant, Ya Halla, and my new cookbook (which I have a post in process about). I found the recipe for Baba Ganouj in Farmer John's Cookbook: The Real Dirt on Vegetables and I just had to try it.

This meal is completely vegan!

I planned a meal consisting of baba ganouj, pita wedges, hummus, olives, and fried cauliflower (we've only eaten the latter at Ya Halla, but I understand it's a Lebanese treat). I had to abandon the hummus because Paul had to leave at 6 for a meeting, and the garbanzo beans weren't done cooking in time. But I did manage to get the rest done, even though I'd never made it before.

It's worth seeking out good pita bread. I sometimes make my own, and if I'd had time today I would have used the rest of the pizza dough from yesterday to do just that. But I had store-bought that is good--it took me years to find a good brand. You might look for a middle eastern grocery for good pita. Here in Portland, I buy the Dinar brand that can be found at the food coops and at New Seasons. There's also a good Lebanese grocery right next to Ya Halla.

Olives: I used a Meditteranean blend, Pelloponese brand, from Greece. Though I usually like to buy non-imported foods because of the issue of burning up fossil fuels to get food so far from it's origin, and if possible I like to buy very local, within 100 miles. I've been heard to say, to my kids in the grocery store: "No, we won't buy that fruit, because it's from California. We'll wait until it's in season here in Oregon."

Baba Ganouj

Rub two whole eggplant with olive oil and place on a pan. Roast in the oven at 375 degrees until eggplant is very soft, about 30-45 minutes. Let cool. (Or not, if you're in a hurry! Just be careful.)

Meanwhile, toast 1/4 cup pine nuts in a dry skillet. Be careful not to overtoast, as they burn easily.

In a bowl, combine 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (about two lemons), 1/3 cup tahini, 2 cloves of minced garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper.

When the eggplant is done, cut each in half and scoop out the flesh. Put it through a food processor. Add to the mixture in the bowl and stir until well combined. Serve garnished with the pine nuts and chopped parsley or cilantro.

Fried Cauliflower

I found a beautiful yellow cauliflower at the farmer's market. I cut it into large-ish florets and put them in a bowl. I cooked them in the microwave for 4 minutes (could boil instead) just to par-cook them.

Heat enough olive oil in a skillet to completely cover the bottom. Add the cauliflower and cook, turning every few minutes, until nicely browned on each side. Hibi especially loves fried cauliflower!

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