A quick lunch for a new mum friend of mine, with ingredients scooped into my rucksack from the market…
From left to right: Salad of aubergine, walnut and mint
Prick and roast one large aubergine under the grill until the skin blackens, about 20 minutes. Place in a colander in the sink and strip away the skin, forking the flesh roughly. Allow its juices to drain away. Add a generous glug of olive oil, a handful of chopped mint leaves, a crushed garlic clove and about 50g of crumbled feta or white cheese (available from Middle Eastern suppliers and delis) to a serving bowl and mix to a paste with a fork. When the aubergine’s cool enough to handle, scoop the flesh into the cheese mix and add a handful of crushed walnuts. Fork everything together to smooth out the aubergine. Season and adjust to taste. Drizzle with oil and a scattering more of mint. Load onto toasted pitta.
Carrot and cumin hummus
Chop a couple of large peeled carrots into discs and roast at around 190˚with cumin seeds and olive oil until soft and charred at the edges. Add to a blender or food processor with a tin of drained chick peas, 2 tbsp of tahini, the juice of a lemon, a chopped clove of garlic and plenty of olive oil. Blend, taste and serve with more olive oil, a few cumin seeds and some finely chopped coriander or rosemary.
One of the best things about Middle Eastern cuisine, this vibrant and totally fresh salad is a bit of a palate cleanser, breath freshener and all round top notch salad between and amongst plates of grilled meat. The herbs should play a heavy part here and and not only decorate but dominate the chopped salad ingredients, so start by finely chopping one generous handful each of dill, coriander, parsley and mint into the serving bowl, making sure you’ve covered the bottom of the bowl well. It will seem like a lot, but that’s good. Either toast on a high and long setting – or roast on a tray with a little olive oil – one pitta bread until crispy. Finely chop and de-seed two large, ripe tomatoes and add to the bowl with a hunk of finely chopped cucumber, a few finely sliced radishes, a handful of well-chopped iceberg lettuce and about 50g of crumbled white cheese or feta. When the bread’s cooled break it into small pieces and add to the salad bowl. Before serving, combine everything with the juice from a lemon and a glug of olive oil and sprinkle over a generous coating of powdered sumac to give it the last tangy kick it needs.