Mini Mezze – A quick but delicious lunch

PAT PILCHER details an incredibly healthy yet super-healthy dish that makes super-yum summer eating.

The classic mezze is a selection of small dishes typically served as appetizers in Mediterranean countries for lunch or dinner. It’s also one of my favourite easy-to-make lunches on a sunny day.

One of the secrets to the taste of this dish is slow cooking garlic in olive oil. Essentially a confit, it complements the smoky eggplant and umami chickpeas.

Taste aside, confited garlic is a convenient and straightforward technique for adding flavour and taking the harshness out of fresh garlic. This recipe is incredibly healthy and makes use of some basic easy-to-get summer ingredients.

Once you get the hang of these simple mini-dishes, I promise you’ll never bother with bland hummus or baba ghanoush from the supermarket.

Serves 2

The finished product

Ingredients

1x eggplant

4 cloves garlic

1x lemon

Salt

A handful of freshly cut parsley

Ground black pepper

Olive oil

1x tin of chickpeas

1x tbsp. of tahini (or peanut butter)

¼ tsp. of cumin

Flour

Water

¼ tsp. of paprika

Mini mezze ingredients

Method

Baba Ghanoush (the first part)

The first mini-mezze dish is Baba Ghanoush. It is a deliciously smoky dip that comes from Israel and is heavenly on a piece of flatbread.

Get the eggplant and prick its entire body with holes using a fork.

Eggplant

Using an element on a gas stove or BBQ, sit the eggplant on the hob directly over the flames.

Let the skin char until you start to see ash forming – the eggplant will look like it’s been through a nuclear war, but that’s okay. Turn the eggplant frequently to ensure it is charred on all sides.

Charred eggplant

While the eggplant is charring, chop up some garlic and heat 2-3 tbsps of olive oil in a shallow pan.

Add the garlic to the oil, and when the oil starts to bubble turn off the heat and keep the garlic immersed in the oil. Set aside, ensure the garlic stays immersed so the residual heat can slowly cook out the garlic flavour into the oil.

Confit garlic

Rinse the parsley under some cold water and chop it up finely, removing stems.

Once the eggplant is completely charred and looking a little shrivelled, place it in an airtight container to sweat. This will make its burnt skin easier to remove and allow the eggplant to absorb some of the smoky flavours.

Now the garlic is slowly cooking, and the eggplant is sweating, move onto the hummus and flatbread.

Hummus 

Hummus is the quintessential middle eastern dip. It’s loaded with fibre and tastes incredible with flatbread. If you’re the lucky owner of a Thermomix, the recipe can be found here.

Open the tin of chickpeas and drain the water from the tin.

Tip the chickpeas into a blender.

Chickpeas in a blender

Add the juice of half a lemon.

Add ¼ tsp. of cumin.

Add a pinch of salt.

Add a tbsp of Tahini (use peanut butter if you have no tahini).

By now, the garlic in the oil should be beginning to look slightly translucent, and the oil should smell amazing. Spoon half the garlic and oil into the blender.

Add 1x tbsp of cold water into the blender.

Blitz the mixture, stopping to scoop the hummus off the sides of the blender with a rubber scraper.

If the mixture is too lumpy add another tbsp. of icy cold water and blitz again.

Serve in a bowl with a garnish of paprika.

 

Flatbread (the first part)

Using a bowl on a kitchen scale (which has been zeroed to account for the bowl’s weight), add 250g of plain flour.

Add 2-3 tbsps of olive oil to the bowl.

Add a pinch of salt.

Add ¼ cup of water to the bowl.

Mix until a dough forms. It should be slightly sticky.

Flatbread dough

Cover and set the dough aside for 15 minutes.

 

Baba ghanoush (the second part)

Removing the charred eggplant from the airtight container, gently peel off the burnt skin using your hands. Try to leave as much of the brown eggplant flesh intact as possible as this is the part that has the delicious smoky flavour.

Peeling the eggplant

Discard the peeled burnt skin and place the eggplant flesh in a bowl.

Add the juice of half a lemon.

Add a pinch of salt and ground black pepper.

Add the remaining garlic and olive oil.

Add the chopped parsley.

Baba ghanoush ingredients

Mash using a potato masher until you get a paste-like dip.

Serve in a bowl.

 

Flatbread (the second part)

On a floured surface, roll the dough into a long sausage with a diameter of about 2-4 cm.

Cut the dough into thumb-sized chunks and roll them into balls.

Flatbread dough balls

Making sure each ball is lightly coated in flour, use a rolling pin, and roll them out into roughly round flat shapes. Cover each rolled piece to ensure it doesn’t dry out.

Place a heavy skillet on an element and let it heat up.

Place the piece of rolled-out dough, one bit at a time, on the skillet and let it cook, turning it over once the skin begins to bubble – do not let it burn though.

You’ll need to make sure the dough’s edges are cooked and will need to turn it over twice to ensure it is evenly cooked.

Stack and cover each cooked piece of flatbread with a tea towel so they can steam stay soft.

Serve on a platter along with a salad and either sauvignon blanc or cold lager – Enjoy!

 

 

 

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