My family spent three months in Israel when I was thirteen and that experience began a lifelong love for Middle Eastern food. The cuisine is based on simple meats, vegetables and breads but the flavors are bold and rich and developed through slow cooking and an array of herbs and spices. We’ve done posts on hummus, pita and falafel but it was time to expand our horizons and try making some more Middle Eastern dishes…namely Baba Ghanoush, Tabbouleh and grilled flatbread. Nathan hadn’t tried Baba Ghanoush before but liked it even though he was expecting a Hummus flavor instead of the smoky, earthy spice of the pureed eggplant. While doing my recipe research I discovered that most recipes for these dishes are criticized for being inauthentic. Therefore, we make no claim to authenticity beyond saying that we made the dishes according to our preferences and only loosely based them on what are considered the most authentic versions. This strategy was a success as the Tabbouleh is on par with the best I’ve ever had…give all these dishes a try and let us know what you think!
I was excited to discover the small Middle Eastern wine section at our favorite wine and beer store and even more excited to find this award winning Lebanese wine for only $9.99. I was looking for a juicy wine that would contrast the acidity in the Tabbouleh and the smoky, earthy spice of the Baba Ghanoush and this wine perfectly fit the bill. The wine is a blend of four different grapes and delivers an aroma of cherry and hints of licorice, spice and vanilla. I highly recommend pairing this wine with your favorite Middle Eastern fare!
Unfortunately my local go-to beer store didn’t have any Lebanese or other Middle Eastern beer to pair with this meal so I had to choose another beer to drink. However, this pilsner from Redhook certainly got the job done! I reviewed Redhook’s summer pilsner (what seems like ages ago) and that was amazing and while this pilsner was also good, it wasn’t quite as great. This bright golden beer was just the type of pilsner that I enjoy… not sweet and super light like European pilsners but still light enough to enjoy on any occasions. The light flavors of hops and crisp finish washed down the thick tabbouleh and flavorful Baba Ghanoush really well. This is the type of beer that you could drink with anything or nothing and enjoy every last drop of it.
2 medium sized eggplants (about 2 ½ lbs.)
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp roasted tahini (sesame paste)
2 garlic cloves, crushed
Juice of one lemon – about 2 ½ Tbs.
Salt, to taste
1 Tbs. chopped parsley
1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Pierce the eggplants in several places with the tines of a fork. Cut the eggplants in half lengthwise and brush the cut sides lightly with olive oil (about 1 Tbsp). Place on a baking sheet, cut side down, and roast until very tender, about 45 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes.
2. Scoop the eggplant flesh into the bowl of a food processor. Add the garlic, remaining olive oil (about 2 Tbsp), tahini, garlic, lemon juice and salt. Blend to desired consistency (we prefer our Baba Ghanoush to be very smooth).
Allow the baba ghanoush to cool to room temperature, then season to taste with additional lemon juice and salt. Swirl a little olive oil on the top and garnish with fresh chopped parsley.
1 cup bulghur wheat
1 ½ cups boiling water
¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2-3 Tbs. olive oil
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
1 cup minced green onion, white and green parts (1 bunch)
1 cup chopped fresh mint leaves (1 bunch)
2 cups chopped flat-leaf parsley (1 bunch)
1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and medium-diced
2 cups cherry tomatoes, cut in quarters
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1. Place the bulghur in a large bowl, pour in the boiling water, and add the lemon juice, olive oil, and salt. Stir, then allow to stand at room temperature for about 1 hour.
2. Add the scallions, mint, parsley, cucumber, tomatoes, 2 teaspoons salt, and the pepper; mix well. Season, to taste, and serve or cover and refrigerate. The flavor will improve if the tabbouleh sits for a few hours.
1 package active yeast
½ teaspoon sugar
1 ¾ cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon coarse salt
¾ cup water (might need more)
1 teaspoon oil
1. In a food processor bowl combine the yeast, sugar, flour and salt. Pulse to combine. Add the water in a steady stream until the dough begins to form a ball, turn dough on to a board and knead with the heel of your hand until the dough is smooth and elastic.
2. Coat a bowl with oil. Place dough in the bowl and cover with a damp cloth. Put in a warm spot to rise until double in size, about 1 hour.
When the dough has doubled in size, punch the dough, scrape it onto a lightly floured counter and knead it lightly into a smooth ball. Cut into 8 pieces and with a rolling pin roll out to form very flat oblong shapes (the flatbread can be as large, and in any shape you want, but make sure that it is thin: around an 1/8″).
3. Preheat a grill pan over medium high. Do not oil. Place bread on hot grill and cook without touching it until you see bubbles on the surface, about 1 to 2 minutes. Turn and continue to cook 1 to 2 minutes more or until bread has puffed up. Serve immediately. We brushed ours light with olive oil and then sprinkled some sea salt on top.