By Lizzie Daniell
With a new vegetarian in our family – with a somewhat healthy appetite – I’ve started to look outside my normal carnivore comfort recipes to try and create something yummy for him to enjoy when he comes to visit. I believe when he’s cooking for himself, rice is his stable diet. Surely I can do better than that….. let’s see!
Living in the Arab world for the last few years has opened up a huge repertoire of exquisite new taste and flavours which gives me so much joy. To me, food is about love, comfort, time with family/friends which brings about a feeling of happiness and joy! Doesn’t mean I’m a fantastic cook, but when you mix the above with an excellent recipe, amazing things can happen!
After enjoying a wonderful lunch with my daughter at Comptoir Libanais in London, I decided to turn my hands to some of their delicious recipes.
Great restaurant and cook books if you are interested @ https://www.comptoirlibanais.com.
What I noticed is that there are as many vegetarian recipes as there are for the carnivores amongst us. If you have time to lovingly prepare their dishes – magic can happen. And what a great way for me to show off to my son… “look I am capable of creating a veggie feast!”
So the recipes I want to share with you are some savoury favourites of mine. So get your shopping bags out, them aprons on and let’s see what happens…..
- Moussaka with Tahini (moussaka bil tahina)
- Courgette fritters
- Spiced fried potatoes (batata harra)
A gorgeous mix of flavours eaten together – or munched individually.
Moussaka with Tahini (moussaka bil tahina)
2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for brushing and drizzling
1 large onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, crushed
400g chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato paste
6 tomatoes, sliced
1 x 400g can chickpeas, drained
Salt and freshly ground pepper
For the tahini dressing
Couple of pinches of za’atar
Flat-leaf parsley, chopped
- Take one aubergine and chop into bite-size cubes, lay on a plate and cover with salt. Set aside for 15 mins to draw out all the bitter juices.
- Slice the other aubergine into rounds then salt and set aside.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large pan and sauté the onion for around 10-15 mins until its starting to soften and caramelise.
- Rinse the cubed aubergine and add to the pan with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Cook, stirring from time to time, for about 10 mins until the cubes have softened and turned golden.
- Stir in the garlic and cook in the heat of the pan for a couple of mins until you can smell the aroma. Pour in the tomatoes, and tomato purée and bring everything to a simmer. Cover and cook over the lowest heat for 15 mins.
- Rinse the salt off the remaining aubergine. Preheat the grill and oil a baking sheet. Brush the aubergines slices liberally with oil and grill until golden, turning halfway through. Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan/Gas 6.
- Place a layer of the aubergine sauce in the bottom of an ovenproof dish, then cover this with the sliced tomatoes, chickpeas and finally the grilled aubergine. Drizzle with a little extra olive oil.
- Bake for 20 mins, until bubbling and golden on top.
- To make the dressing, stir together the yoghurt, tahini and za’atar to taste.
- Scatter the chopped parsley over the cooked moussaka and serve with the tahini dressing
Makes at least 15
5 courgettes, grated
1 tsp salt
2 onions, peeled and grated
2-3 tbsp olive oil
150g feta cheese
3 eggs, beaten
Small bunch of mint, leaves only, chopped into shreds
½ tsp baking powder
Plain flour, for the batter
Vegetable oil, for deep-frying
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Grate the courgettes, place in a bowl, then sprinkle on the salt and leave for 30 mins.
- Squeeze handfuls of grated courgettes until they release as much liquid as possible. Then place the dry courgettes to one side, discard the liquid and return the courgettes to the bowl.
- Peel and grate the onions. Heat the olive oil in a heavy-based frying pan over medium heat, then fry the onions until soft.
- Add the onions to the bowl of courgettes and stir well. Crumble in the feta and add beaten eggs.
- Add the mint and plenty of black pepper. Stir everything together, then add the baking powder and enough flour to make a soft batter (you can always adjust the consistency).
- Heat 2-3cm of vegetable oil in a deep, heavy-based saucepan.
- When the oil is hot enough, test the temperature with some of the batter. It should fry to a golden brown in 2 mins, so lower the heat and allow the oil to cool if it colours too quickly.
- Spoon rounded tablespoons of batter into the oil in batches and fry until golden.
- Drain on kitchen paper, test the first ones to check they are cooked in the middle, then keep warm in a low oven while you fry the remainder.
- Eat and enjoy!
Batata Hara (Spiced fried potatoes)
1kg potatoes, peeled and cut into 2cm dice
150ml olive or sunflower oil
3 garlic cloves, sliced
Salt to taste
A handful of coriander leaves
Juice of 1 lemon
For the spices (optional):
2 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp paprika
- Parboil the potatoes in boiling salted water for no more than 3 mins. Drain the potatoes, and heat the oil in a frying pan.
- When the oil is hot, add the potatoes (in batches if required) and fry until golden, adding the garlic about 2-3 mins before they’re ready so it cooks.
- Once the potatoes are crispy, drain the oil from the pan. Season the potatoes with salt. Then mix with the coriander, spoon on to a plate and squeeze the lemon juice over.
- If you want to add more spices, return the potatoes to the pan once you’ve drained the oil away, sprinkle the mixed spices over evenly, season and toss over a high heat for 1 min before serving with coriander and lemon.
Now let’s EAT!
I would love you to share with me some stories of your experiences with the love of food and where it made you feel joyous and warm – look forward to hearing from you. Until next time.