During cooking class last month I shared recipes for my favorite Arabic-inspired dishes. The recipes we enjoyed were a roasted vegetable Hummus, an earthy-tangy Baba Gannoush, and a simple Fattoush Salad with Pita Wedges. And while the idea for this class was inspired by the baskets of pita and plates of hummus shared between my high school girlfriends in surburban Detroit, the recipes are all inspired by great bloggers listed below in the intro to each recipe.
Baba Gannoush (Smokey Eggplant Dip)
This delicious and creamy dip can be thought of as the cousin to hummus- made with creamy eggplants and a little smoke and spice. Recipe adapted from David Ledbovitz. He roasts the eggplants over an open flame, which completely terrifies me. I sneak in some liquid smoke instead!
3 medium-sized eggplants
3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
½ cup tahini (roasted sesame paste)
1 teaspoon sea salt
3 tablespoons freshly-squeezed lemon juice
pinch chile powder or cayenne
1 tablespoon olive oil
¼ teaspoon liquid smoke
½ cup packed flat-leaf parsley
- Preheat oven to 450º.
- Split eggplants lengthwise and lay flat on baking sheet. Add garlic to baking sheet and bake for 20 to 30 minutes, until eggplants are soft. Check by using a sharp knife through the middle. Remove from oven and let cool.
- Scrape out the pulp from eggplants (which just might be the wackiest food goo EVER), and add to processor with garlic and all other ingredients. Blend until very smooth, scraping the sides if needed.
- Taste, and season with additional salt and lemon juice, if necessary. Chill for a few hours before serving.
Yield: about 4 cups dip
Roasted Vegetable Hummus
2 zucchini, coarsely chopped
1 red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
1 (fifteen ounce) can chickpeas, drained (or two cups home-cooked)
¼ cup lemon juice
1 tsp cumin
½ cup tahini
2-4 Tablespoons olive oil
½ cup hempseeds
- Add chopped zucchini and peppers to a 9×13 baking dish. Bake for 30 minutes at 450º, stirring after 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.
- Blend vegetables and all remaining ingredients in a food processor until very smooth. Add water if necessary.
- Serve with pita or fresh vegetables.
Yield: 3 cups hummus
Fattoush Salad and Crispy Pita Wedges
A light salad dressed with simple vinaigrette and toasted pita chips- which go perfectly with the two fabulous dips above! This recipe was adapted from A Taste of Beirut. Her version features sumac, which I couldn’t find here, so I skipped it… hopefully she will forgive me! Don’t skimp on the pita chippies, these are the best part of this salad!
4 slices pita bread
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
½ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 Tablespoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon each dried basil and black pepper
½ teaspoon ground coriander
salt to taste
1 head romaine lettuce, coarsely chopped
½ cup roughly chopped fresh parsley
½ cup roughly chopped fresh mint
1 cup sliced cherry tomatoes
1 cucumber, sliced
½ cup shredded carrots
- Preheat oven to 400º.
- Slice pita bread into strips and line on a baking sheet. Set aside.
- Add oil, juice, zest and spices to a small jar. Shake until emulsified.
- Brush pita bread generously with olive oil dressing, and bake for 15 minutes, or until very browned and crispy.
- When bread is finished baking, break each strip into dime-sized pieces.
- Meanwhile, add lettuce, vegetables, and herbs to a large mixing bowl and toss gently. Add remaining dressing and toss to coat.
- Toss in cooled pita chips, and then serve immediately.
Yield: 4-6 servings