A wave of holiday-nostalgia hit hard last week after a few particularly hectic and stressful days. I absolutely love mediterranean/middle-easterny style food, so I thought that enjoying some tasty Greek/Cypriot/Turkish food would be a perfect way to de-stress, and a nice excuse to pretend that I could still be sitting on a beach somewhere hot.
Like my Courgetti Pad-Thai, the authenticity of this food isn’t necessarily spot-on, but that doesn’t stop it from being fresh and exciting and goddamn yummy.
Cucumber is one of my favourite foods in the world. I could honestly probably eat one whole which I realise is pretty weird. As well as having a super-high water content, making it perfect for re-hydration, cucumber contains lots of minerals and B vitamins, which are thought to be an aid to stress relief. Spiralized Cucumber is a great alternative as a salad-base to lettuce leaves, although you can bulk this out with some spinach or shredded kale.
The hummus is also great for vegetarians because it’s an ideal meat-free source of protein. Apparently just 100g chickpeas packs in a good 20 grams of protein, plus a whole load of fibre, calcium and potassium.
Harissa Paste is a Middle Eastern seasoning made from chilli, garlic and various spices. It’s absolutely delicious as a marinade for the aubergine (I think), but go easy on it if you aren’t a fan of hot foods. If you can’t get hold of any, or if you are unsure about buying it in case it never gets used again, feel free to use a mix of garlic, chilli flakes and paprika instead.
There’s lots of components to this dish, but it’s definitely worth it, plus it can all be packed into a tupperware and taken into work for lunch the next day. I promise that my next recipe will be nice, easy and quick!
Spiralized Greek Salad with Harissa-Roast Aubergine, Homemade Hummus & Toasted Pitta
For the Greek Salad
- 2 Cucumbers
- 4 Large Salad Tomatoes, diced
- 1 Small Red Onion, finely chopped
- 1 Bell Pepper in a colour of your choice
- Pitted Halkidiki Olives, Sliced
- 100g crumbled feta cheese
- Some fresh, finely chopped mint (optional)
- Sourdough or Pitta Croutons (optional)
For the Dressing
- Juice of one lemon
- 150 ml Olive Oil
- 150 ml Red Wine Vinegar
- A splash of water
- Salt, Pepper and Oregano to season
For the Aubergine
- 1 Small Aubergine
- 2 tsps Harissa Paste
- 1 tbsp either Olive Oil or Melted Coconut Oil
For the Hummus
- 1 500g can Chickpeas
- 1 tbsps Tahini
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- Salt, Pepper and Paprika to season
Serve with toasted white or wholemeal Pitta Breads. Should be enough for 2-3 generous portions.
Pre-heat the oven to 160-180 Celsius (about 340 or so Fahrenheit)
Pour all of the ingredients for the dressing into a small jar and shake vigorously until combined. Season to taste with the salt and pepper and add more lemon if you like (I like mine quite sharp). You can then set this aside for later; I like to make the dressing first because you can toss the remains of the lemon into the roasting pan to cook with the aubergine – it gives it such a lovely citrusy flavour.
Slice the aubergine into rounds that are approximately 1 cm thick, and arrange them in the roasting pan with the lemon. Pour over the oil and dollop the spoonful of harissa on top – you can then use your hands to make sure the all the aubergine slices are covered in chilli and oil. Put them in the oven for around 20 minutes, until they’re nice and soft in the middle and a little bit crispy on the skin.
Cook the chickpeas in either a pan or a microwave for 2-3 minutes with about a cup of water until they are soft. Rinse them through a sieve when cooked to get rid of any excess starch and put the whole lot in a blender with the tahini and garlic. Blitz until smooth and lump free, and then spoon it into bowl so that you can sprinkle over the paprika, salt and pepper. Taste it whilst you’re going along to make sure that you’re happy with the flavour.
For the salad, roughly dice the tomatoes and pepper, but make sure that the onion and olives are quite finely sliced, as these have a much stronger flavour. Spiralize the cucumbers and mix the whole lot in a big mixing bowl. Add as much feta as you like – I like to have a few large chunks, along with a few bits that are finely crumbled. You can also chop up some mint leaves in there for a really fresh, crisp taste. Pour over the dressing and make sure everything is well-combined.
By this time, the aubergine should be nicely good, and you have just enough time to toast a couple of bits of pitta bread whilst you put the rest of the salad and the hummus onto your plate.
There’ll be a lot of washing up to do (don’t say I didn’t warn you) but for the time being, just sit back and enjoy!