Whenever I come back home, I love getting stuck into all the cookbooks that I had left behind and finding new sources of inspiration. Most recently, I have been bookmarking my way through the tomes that are Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty and Plenty More; his two vegetarian offerings. Ottolenghi approaches food in such a innovative way with a host of cultural influences that I am always left inspired, if a little intimidated. In Germany, I had access to quite a few Lebanese and Syrian restaurants, and so I’ve found myself gravitating towards flavours that mimic this; lots of garlic and spice with dashes of sweetness here and there. I was particularly taken by the recipe for courgette Baba Ghanoush, or Mama Ghannouj, as Oh My Veggies playfully calls them. At home, we’re unlikely to eat mezze as they are, so I added this to a dish of braised lentils full of complimentary vegetables and spices for a well-rounded, and vegetable-packed dish. I’ve simplified my Mama Ghannouj from Ottolenghi’s somewhat, but you’ll still be left with a creamy, garlicky dish that works as well as a dip as it does in this meal here.
- 4 medium-large courgettes
- 1 tbsp tahini
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 clove of garlic
- 4 tbsp natural or goat's milk yoghurt
- 2 tbsp pine nuts
- Olive oil
- 1 tsp ras el hanout
- 2 leeks
- 1 small butternut squash, peeled and chopped into small cubes
- 2 x 400g tins cooked puy or beluga lentils, drained and rinsed
- 100g sundried tomatoes, finely chopped
- Handful fresh coriander
- Spring fresh mint
- Heat a grill to it's highest setting, prick the courgettes lightly with a fork and grill for 45 minutes, turning once or twice.
- Meanwhile, heat a tablespoon of oil in a frying pan over a medium-high heat, fry off the ras el hanout for a minute, and cook the leeks for around ten minutes, stirring frequently.
- Steam the squash until almost cooked through, and then add to the frying pan alongside the lentils. Stir through, adding the sundried tomatoes and reduce to a low heat and cover.
- When the courgettes have cooked through, allow to cool slightly before peeling and placing them in a colander with a little salt to drain. Rinse, pat dry, and either mash of blitz the courgettes into a smooth paste. I prefer to blend as it removes any stringy fibres. Crush the garlic and stir it into the courgette, alongside the tahini and lemon juice. Swirl through the yoghurt so that it is very lightly mixed in. Dry fry the pine nuts until golden not burnt -this should only take a minute on a medium-high heat, so keep the pan moving and don't leave it -then scatter the pine nuts over the top of the Mama Ghannouj.
- Adjust the seasoning of the lentils to taste, and divide between the bowl. Scatter of the coriander and mint, before adding a generous spoonful of Mama Ghannouj to each. Serve immediately.
If you don't have a steamer, remove the leeks from the frying pan after cooking, add 1 tbsp more oil and cook the squash for 20-30 minutes until soft, before returning the leeks and adding in the lentils.
You can easily switch up the vegetables depending on the seasons or what you have in your cupboards, making it a really versatile, vegetable-packed dish.