Persian Perfection

This is a show stopping meal which is great any day of the year & is a feast for your eyes as well! The flavours of Persia in a brightly coloured salad. Great all year round and super simple to put together.

Again, this was inspired by the wonderful book A Modern Way To Eat. There it is called “Ezekiel’s charred aubergines with babaganoush.” I reworked it a bit to include some hummus as a base instead of lettuce (since I didn’t have any). This recipe requires a grill or grill pan of some sort to make the char marks on the aubergines/eggplants. Also you need to allot yourself at least 30 minutes for them to soak out their bitter juices, as this allows them to cook more evenly & absorb all the juices from the dressing. I am obsessed with aubergines & all the flavours of this dish come together so well. Give it a go & see for yourself 🙂

I have included the recipes for how to make your own simple hummus & babaganoush but in a bind feel free to buy your favourite. Mine is Sabra!

Chargrilled Aubergine & Sweet Potato Delight

persian salad

Serves: 2 for main or 4 for starter

Serve With: Babaganoush & flatbread & wraps. Add in your favourite carbonated beverage and you have a meal!

Ingredients: babganoush dressing (if you want to make your own)

  • 2 aubergines
  • 1 preserved lemon, deseeded and very finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 60ml natural yoghurt or unsweetened soya yoghurt
  • 1 tbsp tahini
  • juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

Ingredients: Salad

  • 2 large or 3 small sweet potatoes, peeled & cut into long wedges
  • olive oil/coconut oil
  • juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, bashed in a pestle & mortar or ground up in a coffee/herb grinder, or pre ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds, bashed in a pestle & mortar or ground up in a coffee/herb grinder, or pre ground cumin
  • 1 large aubergine, topped & tailed, then cut into 1cm discs, salted & drained of bitter juices
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 1x 400g chickpeas, drained
  • 2 small cloves garlic, minced
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 tbsp tahini
  • 50g flaked almonds, toasted
  • seeds from 1 pomegranate
  • a bunch of fresh mint, leaves picked & roughly chopped
  • a bunch of fresh parsley, leaves picked & roughly chopped
  • 1 red chilli, finely chopped, or 1 tsp red pepper flakes

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to about 200˚C/fan 180˚C/gas 6/400˚F. While this heats up get started on the babaganoush & hummus (if you are making your own). First off get the hummus going. Get a sauce pan out, put the chickpeas in, and add boiling water. Salt the water a bit and let cook for about 30 minutes on medium high. Drain these then add to a food processor. Whiz until broken down, then add the garlic, tahini, salt & pepper, along with a splash or two of lemon juice. Whiz that up a bit more, add some olive oil to taste and set aside.
  2. Next up is the babaganoush. If you have a gas hob, then use your biggest gas ring for this. Otherwise a smoking hot griddle pan will do the trick! Prick the skin of the aubergines, then place directly onto the flame/pan. Use tongs to turn them every minute or so, to ensure even cooking & colour on all sides. Once the aubergines are charred & feel soft right through (after about 10 minutes), take them off the heat & set aside to cool. Once they are cool enough to handle, cut them in half lengthways, and scoop out the flesh, leaving the skin behind. Put the flesh into a bowl with the rest of the babaganoush ingredients, season with salt & pepper, and mix well with a fork. Make sure to mash up any big bit you come across. Set aside in a serving bowl.
  3. Pop the sweet potatoes into a large roasting tray. Drizzle with olive oil or coconut oil & the lemon juice, scatter over the cumin & coriander seeds, season with salt & pepper and toss this all together to everything is incorporated evenly. Roast these bad boys in the oven for about 15 minutes.
  4. Take your aubergine discs, dry off any excess salt & bitter juice, then get your griddle pan/grill to a high heat, smoking hot pretty much if you need a reference point. Spray some oil on, and then pop the aubergines on. Make sure each side gets thoroughly charred, 5 min each side approx. Once they get the proper char marks, add to a roasting tray with some extra virgin olive oil & set into the oven with the sweet potatoes to let them roast for another final 15 minutes together.
  5. If using gem lettuce quarters, use the griddle for the char marks. Otherwise you can move that hot thang out of the way!
  6. Remove the sweet potatoes and aubergines from the oven. They should both be crisp on the outside & soft on the inside. If not, pop them back in & give them a few more minutes.
  7. To Serve: Make little swirls of hummus on your plate. Lay the sweet potatoes & aubergines on top. Scatter the toasted almonds, pomegranate seeds, chopped herbs & chilli. Finish with a good drizzle of the extra virgin olive oil & squeeze of lemon juice. Serve with a big bowl of the babaganoush & warm flat breads. Makes an excellent lunch in wraps as well.

persian salad 2

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