Recipes, both original and favorite ones from other authors. Vegetarian with vegan-friendly (most of the time!) options.

Tuesday, August 22, 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!


Mimi said...

Yum. Sounds fabulous. I've decided, I could eat Middle Eastern food every day for the rest of my life, and not be bored.

Vicki said...

this sounds amazing! especially the fried cauliflower -- i LOVE that. sounds like you got it covered, but nava atlas has a great homemade pita recipe on her blog.

jess (of Get Sconed!) said...

Mmm I love cauliflower and hopefully I'll get some in the csa to try this with! I haven't been to Ya Hala yet - but I really want to. Have you been to Nicholas Restaurant? I think I'm going for my birthday lunch - I love the food just not the flies with the open windows.

Elizabeth said...

I have not been to Nicholas but I think I'm the only one in our church who hasn't been. ;-) Paul's been and says it's good but more casual than Ya Halla. Hope you have a great birthday!

jess (of Get Sconed!) said...

Thank you! Getting to Ya Halla is just a matter of getting my boyfriend to take the bus ride, and to think we used to live on that bus line - we just always went to Hoda's instead. : )

Elizabeth said...

Is Hoda's the one on Belmont? Is it any good?

Maurice said...

Elizabeth, I'm looking forward to trying your fried cauliflower recipe. If I can ever tempt you east out of Portland, please try Selma's Mediterranean deli on 2nd St in downtown Gresham. We have become friends with the family and are now regulars there.