Burnt Aubergine and Mograbieh Soup

Mograbieh is a gorgeous large couscous, one of several varieties available around the Mediterranean and Middle East that includes maftoul, fregola, giant couscous, pearl couscous and Israeli couscous. They are generally widely available – some in supermarkets but the best in Middle Eastern groceries. Although there are differences, they can be interchanged in many recipes.

This recipe is a delightful and unusual soup – who has heard of eggplant soup before? Today we have one for you. It is Israeli in origin, and features in Tamimi and Ottolenghi’s book Jerusalem. The texture is from the mograbieh and fried eggplant, and the smooth soup base is char-roasted eggplant and tomatoes.

It is Ottolenghi day on the blog – one of two days per month where we publish all the latest posts of recipes we have tried in our project of cooking from Ottolenghi books – those we have cooked directly and those we have been inspired by. Currently we are cooking mainly from Plenty More, but not ignoring his other books completely. Note that I often massage the recipes to suit what is available from our garden and pantry. For the original recipes, check his books and his Guardian column.

Similar recipes include Mograbieh and Artichoke Pilaf, Saffron Mograbieh Pilaf with Broad Beans, and Couscous Lunches.

Browse our Eggplant recipes. Mograbieh dishes, and our Soups. Our Ottolenghi dishes from Plenty More are here. We have written about our experiences cooking through this book. Or explore our Late Autumn recipes.

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Dates and Baby Spinach Salad With Almonds and Sumac | One Delicious Salad!

What defines a salad? There are salads of raw ingredients and salads of cooked ingredients, cold salads and warm salads, salads of vegetables and salads with fruit, and salads with dried fruits. There are salads without fruit and without vegetables. There are dressings with oil and vinegar, or miso, pomegranate molasses or tahini. There are salads without dressings. Salads can be tossed, mixed, layered and composed. How to define a salad!

The word salad comes from the French salade of the same meaning, from the Latin salata (salty), from sal (salt). In English, the word first appears as salad or sallet in the 14th century. Salt is associated with salad because vegetables were seasoned with brine or salty oil-and-vinegar dressings during Roman times.

But as soon as we try to create some rules that categorically define a salad, we find exceptions. Despite the confusion, we can all recognise a salad when we see one. There is no confusing it with soup, or pudding, or a pasta dish.

Salads are also evident in most cuisines, even India has quite a few salads even though they are not well represented in restaurants or cookbooks. Today we travel to Israel via Ottolenghi’s book Jerusalem. The salad is composed of marinated dates, crispy flatbread, toasted nuts, and baby spinach. It does sour via lemon juice, vinegar and sumac, hot with chilli, pungent with onion and sweet with the dates.

Sumac, a tart, deep-red spice, is a key ingredient for this recipe – buy yours from a Middle Eastern shop, it is quite different to brands available via the local supermarket. The pita and almonds in the recipe are cooked for a few minutes on the stove to crisp up, but that is the only heat required. The rest is easy.

It is Ottolenghi Cook the Books day on the blog – one of two days per month where we publish all the latest posts of recipes we have tried in our project of cooking from Ottolenghi books – those we have cooked directly and those we have been inspired by. Currently we are cooking mainly from Plenty More, but not ignoring his other books completely. Note that I often massage the recipes to suit what is available from our garden and pantry. For the original recipes, check his books and his Guardian column.

Similar dishes include Spinach Stem Salad with Sultanas and Pinenuts, Glass Noodles with Spinach, and Orzo Pasta with Wilted Spinach.

Browse all of our Spinach Salads and all of our Israeli dishes. Our Ottolenghi dishes from Jerusalem are here. We have written about our experiences cooking through his book Plenty More. Or explore our Late Autumn recipes.

Continue reading “Dates and Baby Spinach Salad With Almonds and Sumac | One Delicious Salad!”

Na’ama’s Fattoush

Fattoush, as its simplest, is another tomato and bread salad – a common combination around the globe. And as tomato and bread is a very very good basis for a salad; it is no wonder that it is popular. It is also a variety of chopped salad, easy to make, no fuss at all.

Mention Fattoush to anyone from the Middle East to Israel, and  you are likely to find yourself in a discussion (argument?) about the composition of the salad.  Is sumac essential? Should other spices be included? Is garlic necessary? Is the bread to be toasted? Or fried? What is the dressing made of? What herbs are included? How big should the pita pieces be?

It is one of THOSE salads, loved and protected by all who eat it regularly. As mentioned, it is a type of chopped salad with tomatoes and includes pita. A salad that is best when all ingredients are the freshest and best quality available.

Arab salad, chopped salad, Israeli salad – whatever you choose to call it. Wherever you go in the city, at any time of the day, a Jerusalemite is most likely to have a plate of freshly chopped vegetables – tomato, cucumber and onion, dressed with olive oil and lemon juice – served next to whatever else they are having. Friends visiting us in London always complain of feeling they ate ‘unhealthily’ because there wasn’t a fresh salad served with every meal.

Ottolenghi and Tamimi, in their book Jerusalem, have a recipe that comes from Sami’s mother. It is also in Sami’s book Falastin. Sami can’t recall anyone else in the neighbourhood making the recipe this way She called it fattoush, as it includes chopped vegetables and bread. She soaks the untoasted or fried bread in a kind of home-made buttermilk, which makes it terribly comforting. It is a gorgeous salad and the home made buttermilk dressing is wonderful. It does make it quite different to other versions of Fattoush.

Try to get small cucumbers for this as for any other fresh salad. If you need to use the larger, long cucumbers, perhaps remove the seeds before using, if you wish.

Summer purslane, a tangy succulent with fleshy leaves and something of the lamb’s lettuce about it, is commonly found in fattoush in its homelands, and is well worth adding for its lovely lemony flavour. I have included it as we have it growing.

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Roasted Cauliflower and Hazelnut Salad with Pomegranate

In this memorable salad from Ottolenghi and Tamimi’s Jerusalem, roasted Cauliflower, Celery and Hazelnuts are combined with Pomegranate, fresh Parsley, and warming spices. A sweet-tart vinaigrette finishes it off.

When we roast cauliflower, we make a whole lot, often 2 – 3 trays, and it is used for Cauliflower Soup, Crispy Cauliflower with Tahini Yoghurt Dressing, and this salad. Roasted cauliflower is one of the best ways to use this gorgeous winter vegetable.

Similar recipes include Roasted Whole Cauliflower with Green Tahini Dressing, Burghul and Cauliflower Salad with Hazelnuts, Cauliflower Roasted in Olive Oil, Indian Style Roasted Cauliflower, Roasted Cauliflower, Grape and Cheddar Salad, and Slow Cooked Cauliflower with Spices and Lime.

Browse all of our Cauliflower recipes, all of our Ottolenghi dishes and all of our Salads. Or explore our Early Spring recipes.

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Crispy Cauliflower with Tahini Yoghurt Sauce

This Cauliflower dish is a take on a classic Israeli and Lebanese recipe in Ottolenghi and Tammi’s book Jerusalam. I have twisted it up just a little to suit us and our friends, but I have to tell you that this is a favourite dish in our circle. I love it partly because it is very quick to make if you roast the cauliflower. Ottolenghi deep fries it (and that is delicious) but often time is a real factor in this household. So the cauliflower is roasted when we need awesome dishes in quick-sticks time. We can get on with other things while the roasting happens. I have to say, though, that deep frying gives the cauli beautiful crispy exteriors and cooks the interior just enough to be amazing.

Tahini features in creative ways in Israel, in both simple eateries and upmarket restaurants. For these types of dishes, grab good tahini from your Middle Eastern grocers – you won’t go back to the supermarket shelves, and they have a smoothness not available in the Greek brands. Choose a light-coloured tahini made from hulled sesame seeds.

The tahini sauce, thick and wonderfully rich, is the focal point of this dish. I use about 3/4 of Ottolenghi’s sauce with the cauliflower, and the rest is put to use as dips and salad dressings. This dish fits perfectly in any mezze selection, makes a great substantial meal when served with fresh tomato salad and a warm pitta, or is an excellent side for many meals.

Similar dishes include Cauliflower Shawarma, Indian Style Roasted CauliflowerCrispy Cauliflower with Capers, Roasted Cauliflower Salad with Hazelnuts and PomegranateRoasted Cauliflower and White Bean Puree,  and Cauliflower Slow Cooked with Lemon and Spices.

Also try Miso Sesame Dressing, Green Tahini Sauce, White Beans with Tahini, and Tahina Tarator.

Browse all of our Cauliflower recipes, and dishes where tahini features. Our dips and sauces are here. Explore our Israeli dishes, all of our wonderful Salads, and check out or Early Spring collection of recipes.

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Roasted Sweet Potato and Fresh Figs

The fig season seems so brief in Adelaide, but that might be because they are so hard to find in green groceries. It seems that as soon as they appear in the shops, the season is over.

This year I did manage to find some of the green variety of figs that ripen earlier, and then some outrageously expensive black figs. Really, I need to make friends with someone with a fig tree.

One of Ottolenghi’s dishes in Jerusalem takes advantage of the beautiful taste and texture of figs to pair them with sweet potatoes, chillies and spring onions. This is so good. I mean SO GOOD. You do need to have figs that are sweet, moist and very ripe. You can smell the sweetness.

By the way, if you have access to figs, don’t forget to dry a few dozen, for use over winter.

Are you looking for Fig recipes? Try Fig, Walnut and Goat Cheese Salad, Baked Figs with Cheese and Honey, Baked Figs with Thyme, Figs with Rosewater and Almonds, Fig Salad with Hazelnuts and Mesclun, and Fig and Pecorino Salad.

Or perhaps you are looking for Sweet Potato dishes. Read about Sweet Potatoes here. And then try Caramelised Sweet Potatoes, Potato and Sweet Potato Spicy Curry, Sweet Potato Wedges with Creme Fraiche Dressing.

Or take some time and browse all of the Fig dishes and the Sweet Potato dishes. We have a few Israeli dishes. Take a look at the Ottolenghi dishes we have tried. Or take some time and browse our Mid Autumn recipes.

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Parsley and Barley Salad with Spiced Marinated Feta

A beautiful, fresh and light Salad

Oh how delightful this salad is! It feels healthy and green and very clarifying. It makes you feel so good as you are eating it. The recipe comes from Ottolenhi and Tamimi’s book Jerusalem.

Middle Eastern and Israeli dishes can be substantial and heavy and are accompanied by a sharp, fresh salad such as this one. The herbs and lemon juice cleanse the palate and give a certain sense of lightness. Serve it with other vegetable-based mezze dishes. I like to eat it on its own for lunch with some flatbread. This amount serves 4 – 5 as a side dish and 2 – 3 as a lunch with flatbread.

The flavours of garlic, olive oil, onion, lemon – flavour so familiar from the Middle East – are all there, accentuated by za’atar – and the flavours are carried by the beautiful green tastes of parsley and green capsicum. A delightful, balanced dish.

Are you looking for similar Barley recipes? Try this wonderful Feta Salad, Mediterranean Barley Salad with Crispy Tofu, or Toasted Barley with Pistachios and RaisinsFarmhouse Barley and Vegetable Soup, Barley and Red Kidney Beans, and Adzuki Bean, Barley and Pumpkin Soup with Miso and Parsley.

We even have Parsley recipes for you. Chickpea “Tabbouleh”, Greek style Salsa Verde and Parsley Braised with Tomatoes.

Meanwhile have a look at the collection of Feta recipes we put together for you.

You might like to browse other Parsley recipes here, other Barley recipes and other Ottolenghi recipes. Try our Middle Eastern recipes here, or explore our collection of easy Spring dishes here.

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Zhug | Zhoug | Skhug | A Coriander-Chilli Paste, Dip and Sauce

A versatile Yemini-Israeli paste made from green coriander (cilantro), green chillies and earthy spices

What to do with the left over coriander (cilantro) leaves and stems at the end of the week – a perpetual problem in a family that uses a lot of green coriander. One solution we have is to make Coriander Paste. Another is to make Zhoug, a Yemeni-Israeli sauce or dip full of spices – sometimes spelled skhug, zhug, , schug or s’hug. It is a fiery, garlicky, herby green bowl of goodness. Traditionally a perfect accompaniment to pita with falafel, it also serves as a sauce, spread and dip. It can be stirred into soups and stews to spark them up. Spread a little on a sandwich or warm pita bread, drizzle it on pasta, or serve it with grilled halloumi or vegetables for an extra herby and spicy kick of flavour.

Zhoug can be fiery hot, depending on your chilli level, and Yemenites believe that eating zhoug daily strengthens the immune system, keeps away illness and strengthens the heart. Preparations for Zhoug vary widely, but a few things remain constant – green herbs, garlic, spices and chilli.

Once you have experienced the fragrant spiciness of Zhoug, you will be making this weekly with your left over coriander, or, indeed, buying extra coriander each week, just to make this pesto-like sauce. Actually, Zhoug is a green cousin to Shatta, which is a similar dish, except Shatta uses mild red chillies. Zhoug has also been called Israeli Chilli Paste, a green harissa, a Middle Eastern Gremolata and a hot chermoula.

Similar recipes include a Green Chilli and Coriander Paste, Sweet Chilli JamCoriander Paste, Coriander Pesto, Soy and Sesame Dipping Sauce, and Coriander and Coconut Chutney.

Or try these: Carrots and Green Peas with Green Coriander, Coriander and Lemongrass Vichyssoise, Pudla with Green Coriander, or Urad Dal with Tomato, Coconut and Green Coriander.

Read some more about Green Coriander, and also How to Use Leftover Green Coriander.

You might also like other Coriander dishes and other Coriander Pastes. Middle Eastern dishes are here. Or enjoy our easy Late Autumn dishes.

Continue reading “Zhug | Zhoug | Skhug | A Coriander-Chilli Paste, Dip and Sauce”

Vegetarian Muqluba

A deeply flavoured Israeli dish from Ottolenghi and Tamimi. A reasonable amount of effort but worth it.

Maqluba is an amazing dish, deep in flavours and textures. Ottolenghi and Tamimi’s book Jerusalem has a great recipe in it that is easily vegetarian-ised. It was a great success flavour-wise. It was less successful in presentation. The dish should turn out like an upside down cake but my aged super-long grained basmati is a rice that “lifts and separates” rather than clings together to build a superstructure to support an upside-down cake look. Next time I will find a rice with a little more glugginess to build the required infrastructure.

Most recipes for Muqluba do specify basmati rice, but I suspect that the aged basmati isn’t suitable. I have since learned that fresh or young basmati rice is very starchy and will cling together, whereas aged and long grain basmati is not at all sticky, cooking to beautiful separate grains. So look for a short grained rice, a rice classified in India as a raw rice, so you get that starchiness which will make it hold together better.

Similar recipes include Kosheri – Rice with Vermicelli and Lentils.

Feel free to browse recipes from our Ottolenghi collection. You might also like our Eggplant recipes and Cauliflower recipes. Check out our easy Early Winter recipes too. Continue reading “Vegetarian Muqluba”