-Fresh Box Nov 12th 2020
I am a big fan of Mediterranean flavors. During the holiday season, I am sure we are all looking to add some exotic dishes to our holiday menu to feast with friends and family (at a safe distance of course).
This week I was motivated to cook a Thanksgiving feast, but with simple and quick recipes inspired from Middle East, that are high in flavor and so easy to execute!
The Mediterranean & middle eastern dining style includes a lavish ‘mezze’ spread, meaning ‘taste, share & snack’, of small plates, dips, and spreads resembling much like the Spanish “Tapas” style. Dips and spreads from hummus, baba ghanoush, along with veggies, olives, pickles, and simple Pita bread can immediately make your spread look exotic and extravagant, with minimal effort. It also adds more variety to the feast, making you a gourmet cook almost instantly!
Hummus is so common these days I wanted to do some stand-out recipes. So, this week I have for you a flavorful variation on the party platter straight from Morocco- Zaalouk. The star ingredient of this week’s Fresh box was the beautiful, vibrant Eggplant Medley; simply perfect to make this delicious Zaalouk.
Zaalouk is a simple Moroccan salad made of grilled eggplants and tomatoes, seasoned with garlic, and spices, There are several ways to make it. The recipe I am sharing with you is a fusion of the traditional Zaalouk influenced by the Indian “Baingan ka Bharta” (eggplant curry) packed with lots of flavors. It is a common side dish to many entrees or served as a dip with Pita bread!
Total Time: 60 mins
Prep Time: 20 mins
Cook Time: 40 mins
From the Fresh Box:
- Eggplant Medley (or 2 large size Eggplants)
- 1 large Eggplant
- 4-5 small eggplants
- 1 large-sized tomato (or 2-3 medium-sized tomatoes)
- 3 cloves of Garlic
- 1 Tbsp Paprika powder
- 1 Tsp Cumin powder
- 1 Tsp Black Pepper powder
- ¼ Cup Olive oil
- Salt to Taste
- ¼ cup chopped parsley (optional for garnish)
- Preheat the oven to 400 F (200 C)
- Prick the eggplants all over (pricking the eggplants prevents pressure build-up and stops them from bursting in the oven), rub some olive oil on the skins, then bake them for 20-30 minutes. Keep checking in between, as I have used different sizes of the eggplants, the smaller ones cook faster than the big one.
- Bake the garlic cloves along with the eggplants.
- Cook until the eggplants are completely soft. (test the softness by piercing a skewer through). Remove from the oven, and cover the eggplants with foil. Let the eggplants cool for a few minutes.
- De-skin the eggplant once it is cooled and remove the pulp into a large mixing bowl. Set the pulp aside.
- Pierce the tomatoes gently with a knife to make two slits in the bottom of the tomato as shown below.
- Boil water in a saucepan. Once the water is boiled, turn off the heat and add the tomatoes into the boiled water. Then cover with a lid and set aside for 5 minutes.
- After 5 minutes, gently remove the tomato, and now de-skin slowly. (It should peel off almost immediately, if it does not, then leave the tomato in hot water for a few more minutes until you see cracks on the skin).
- Dice the tomatoes and discard the seeds.
- Place the diced tomatoes on a baking tray. Drizzle 4 Tbsp of olive oil.
- Season with salt and bake the tomatoes at 350F (180C) for 20 minutes (Ensure they are completely soft).
- Add the baked tomatoes and garlic to the mixing bowl along with the eggplant pulp.
- Using a potato masher or spatula, gently mash the mixture until it is smooth.
- Add the remaining olive oil, paprika powder, cumin powder, and black pepper powder to the mixing bowl. Continue to mash until the mixture is all blended and you have a smooth paste.
- Incase your eggplants still hold moisture, you can then heat this mixture on the stove on medium flame with the lid covered until the moisture evaporates.
- Cool the mixture and garnish with chopped parsley and olive oil.
Serve with warm Pita breads!
Let me know in the comments what is on your holiday feast menu this year!