Baba Ghanoush is tasteful and easy to make. Combine it with olives, pickles and flat bread (naan) to create a delicious starter to share. Don’t be tempted to buy Baba Ganoush at the supermarket. Most of these products lack the typical taste as a result of charring the eggplant. Sumac is an ingredient from the Levantine cuisine. Basically sumac powder is the result of crunching dried berries of the sumac plant. The taste vaguely resembles cranberries with a touch of lemon. In this case it adds fruitiness to the dish. The sweetness of the berries combines well with the garlic.
Enjoy Baba Ganoush with a glass of white Lebanese wine, but since that’s hard to find a nice glass of Cava is also a good choice.
Start by grilling the eggplant (in the oven in our case) to the point of charring. Ideal would be a char coal grill, but an oven grill also does the trick. Then leave the eggplant in the hot oven until very soft; maybe 30-45 minutes in total, depending on the seize of the eggplant. Some suggest rubbing the eggplant with olive before grilling it that’s not necessary. Transfer the eggplant to a plate and let cool. Now cut in half and use a spoon to separate the flesh from the skin. Use a kitchen knife to cut the flesh very thinly. Put the mixture in a sieve and reduce the amount of liquid in the mixture. Add the garlic and mix well. Add tahini and while stirring slowly add olive oil to create a thick mixture. Add yoghurt and some lemon juice. Taste well and adjust by adding more tahini, yoghurt or lemon juice. Allow to integrate for at least 15 minutes before serving. Spread the baba ghanoush on a small plate, add a splash of excellent olive oil and sprinkle some pomegranate seeds and sumac to finish.
Think summer vegetables, think Ratatouille! Which is also a comedy released in 2007 about a rat called Remy with a passion for cooking. If you want to see how he prepares ratatouille then simply enter Remy cooks ratatouille as search term in YouTube (or buy the DVD if you’re old fashioned like us). Ratatouille brings back memories of summer, of the South of France, of the Mediterranean. Or for some, of their youth. It combines very well with a simple sausage, with lamb, with grilled chicken. However you prepare your ratatouille, be sure to use courgette or zucchini, aubergine or eggplant, tomato and bell peppers. Also make sure you prepare it a day ahead. The taste becomes much more integrated after a day (or two) in the refrigerator. Our recipe is very much the recipe of a dear friend. She taught us how to make ratatouille in her summer kitchen, overlooking the pool and the garden with herbs and vegetables. Indeed, fond memories. To our surprise she added cilantro (you would expect thyme or basil) and many years later we are still grateful for this twist. The cilantro enhances the feeling of summer and it supports the various vegetables in a beautiful way.
We enjoyed our ratatouille with a glass of simple, red wine with lots of red and black fruits. Spicy. A wine that brings summer to your glass.
If you combine 1 of each, with the exception of 3 tomatoes, this will serve 4 people. Start by cutting the aubergine in small but not too small chunks. Drizzle with salt and mix. Let the mixture rest for a few hours, allowing for the aubergine to loose water and become firm. Best way to do this is by putting the aubergine in a sieve and let it rest above a bowl. The tomatoes require some attention as well. You could peel them, but that’s optional. What is not optional is to separate the tomato meat and juices from the pits. First step is to remove the internal hard bits and the pits and put these aside. You now have the outer part of the tomato, which you can slice. Cut the remainder of the tomatoes roughly, add to a sieve and by using the back of a spoon make sure you capture the juices. Be surprised about the volume of tomato juice and the small amount of tomato bits that remain in your sieve. Peel the courgette, slice in the way you sliced the aubergine and fry over medium heat in olive oil. In the mean time cut the bell pepper into long slices and add these to the pan. Continue frying. Add the finely chopped chilli pepper (not the seeds of course). Add the firm aubergine after having removed the remaining salt with water. After a few moments add the tomato chunks, fry a bit more, add the tomato juice (and the optional garlic) and leave on a medium heat for 30 minutes. Try not to stir too much; otherwise you risk creating mashed vegetables. Cool, set aside and store in the refrigerator. The next day gently warm the ratatouille, add some chopped cilantro, mix and add more cilantro just before serving.