There are certainly some bona fide foodies amongst my readers, since many of you guessed correctly what I would choose for “Z” !
I’ve posted a recipe using Za’atar before on the blog, my Wheatberry, Chickpea & Za’atar Salad and talked a little about it then. I’m sure there are many of you who aren’t familiar with this ingredient though so here’s some info: Za’atar is a herb and spice blend widely-used in the Middle-East. Its specifics vary according to region but it usually includes toasted sesame seeds, dried thyme and sumac, a tangy, lemony spice.
Both Sumac and Za’atar have become much more widely known in recent years, due, almost exclusively, to the world-renowned chef, Yotam Ottolenghi, as it’s an ingredient that features in many of the recipes in his popular cookbooks. It’s used as a seasoning for grilled vegetables, salads, sprinkled on top of hummus and the traditional recipe I just made, Manakish Za’atar , which are traditional Lebanese flatbreads spread with a topping made from Za’atar combined with olive oil.
I basically followed this recipe from The Kitchn, making only a small batch (something I definitely regretted as they were soooo delicious) and using light spelt fLour instead of all-purpose.
The flatbreads kind of reminded me of a crispy focaccia, with the olive oil in the dough and the salt in the topping, but this is even better with its bright herbs, spices and toasted sesame seeds.
I had planned to make my usual hummus recipe to serve with it but remembered the meal we enjoyed at Al Shami a few weeks ago and that amazing Moutabel/Baba Ghanoush. Since then, I’ve been wanting to replicate it at home and this felt like the perfect opportunity!
Like hummus, baba ghanoush is a spread which includes tahini, garlic and lemon, but instead of chickpeas, blackened aubergine is used instead.
Grilling the aubergine until nicely charred lends a deep, smoky flavour to the dip which is divine. There are a million variations on this dish but this is the ratio of ingredients I like best:
Baba Ghanoush (Moutabel):
2 Medium aubergines, to yield 1 heaping cup cooked flesh when drained of excess liquid
2 Cloves of garlic, minced
1/4C Lemon juice
Dash of smoked paprika
Fresh chopped parsley and more paprika to serve
To cook the aubergine, prick all over with a fork, place on a baking sheet and cook under the grill/broiler for 20-30 minutes until collapsed and blackened.
Set aside until cool enough to handle.
Cut aubergines lengthwise down the middle and scrape out as much of the flesh as you can, leaving behind the skin (a few little flecks of skin are ok). Squeeze the flesh to remove liquid or drain in a colander for 15 minutes.
In a food processor combine all the ingredients and process until smooth.
Garnish with more paprika and chopped parsley.
Serve with Manakish, pita and crudités or other meze.
And so we’ve reached the end! A-Z complete!
Thank you to everyone who’s stuck with me this month and especially to those who’ve commented or even made one of my recipes. As much as I love recipe creating and blogging, you lovely readers make it all the more worthwhile!
I’ll be back tomorrow for a little Vegan MoFo round-up, featuring some of my favourites from Coconut and Berries this month, as well my top picks from elsewhere, sharing lessons learnt and what the future holds for the blog.