Roasted vegetable salad
Labneh, eggplant-red pepper-chickpeas-onions
These are my favourite ingredients for a salad that has no greens, makes a healthy lunch, and can sit at a buffet table for hours without wilting away. The star ingredient in this is the pomegranate vinaigrette. The tides are changing, as many of us are making a conscious effort to eat more vegetarian food in our daily meals. I see it more as a necessity and less as an option moving forward.
Last week I threw an evening soiree for friends visiting. They are vegetarian. It was rather challenging to prepare a table laden with food that was not all cheese-based, the easy option. It was quite a success, and hopefully next time around it will be easier to think up a menu.
The food from the left hand corner - roasted vegetable salad served in a bowl, watermelon feta and olive salad, my selection of cheese board with dry fruits, nuts, grilled artichokes, hummus, crackers, crusty bread and butter. Deconstructed papayta na pattice ( layers of egg, green coconut chutney and mashed potatoes, baked and grilled, yoghurt with toum and cucmber served with garlic pita and baby cucumbers. Walnut Mocha Torte and lemon cheesecake with fresh strawberries and a savoury roulade with a sherry mushroom sauce. Prunes soaked in caramel brandy. Most of the recipes are available on the blog.
Serves 12 at a buffet
2 large Sicilian eggplants
2 red peppers
1 medium onion
1 1/2 cups of chickpeas
1 tsp salt
2 cloves of garlic
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp pomegranate preserves
2 tbsp of fresh mint
Sumac and fresh mint to garnish
Chop or slice the eggplant, toss with a touch of oil, and place on a baking tray that has been lined with parchment paper to avoid sticking.
On a tray lined with foil, roast the whole peppers, lightly brushed with oil. Alternately, use roasted red peppers from a jar.
Place the vegetables in the oven at 190 °C (375 °F) for 45 minutes. Remove the tray of eggplant and sprinkle with salt. Leave aside.
For the peppers, pull up the sides of the foil to cover the peppers and return them to the oven for another hour, leaving them to sweat with the oven turned off. Remove and peel the blistered skin off, then cut it into pieces.
Prepare the chickpeas (see tips).
In a small pan, warm the olive oil with the thinly sliced or hand-chopped garlic. Allow this to simmer for 5 minutes. Do not boil it. Remove this from the stove, allow it to cool for a minute, and then add the pomegranate preserve and mint. Mix it well.
To assemble, toss the eggplant, pepper, and chickpeas together with the vinaigrette. Garnish with fried or roasted onions (birista) and fresh mint. Season with sumac. Serve.
Roasting the vegetables at the same time on different trays is economical. Chickpeas in a can (I prefer bottled) must be drained and washed to remove the preservatives required for canning.
Alternatively, you can soak the chickpeas and cook them for an hour or two in salted water until tender. drain and use it.
For the Pomegranate Vinaigrette Pomegranate preserves are made up of sugar, lime juice, cumin, and a fresh red chili that is not hot or spicy. You can make your own by adding pomegranate molasses to a sweet chili jam.
I substituted the sumac with hibiscus powder for a variation.
Photo courtesy Niloufer Mavalvala and Zavare Tengra
My published cookbooks are available for sale through myself and on Amazon.
The World of Parsi Cooking: Food Across Borders is a 3 award winning book. It has been self published in July 2019 and will be going into its second print in 2022.
The Vegetarian Parsi, inspired by tradition is an award winning cookbook. It was published by Spenta Multimedia India and is available on Amazon India and through email order at email@example.com.
The Art of Parsi Cooking; reviving an ancient cuisine was published in 2016 by Austin Macauley and continues to be available through amazon book depot book depository and from the publishers.