Middle Eastern courgette dip

Middle Eastern courgettes

Due to a few weeks of neglect and super fertile soil, my courgette plants are now giant triffids and my courgettes in danger of turning into marrows. Today I decided enough was enough and started on what will be an epic week of dealing with a courgette glut, starting with a lovely dip, which is a good side dish for barbecued lamb or chicken or with my pitta triangles in a picnic.

courgette glut

If you don’t have a good, thick Greek yoghurt, strain whichever yoghurt you have for a few hours before adding it to the courgette mix so it doesn’t go too runny. I like my dips garlicky so have added three cloves of garlic but two is probably enough for many people.

Ingredients

3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

4 medium-sized courgettes

coarse sea salt

1 tbsp cumin seeds, roughly bashed in a pestle and mortar

250g Greek yoghurt

juice of half a lemon

2-3 cloves of garlic, crushed

1 tsp fresh dill, chopped (optional)

3 tsp fresh mint, chopped

50g soft goat’s cheese or feta cheese

1 tsp za’atar

Serves 6-8

Method

Preheat the oven to 180°C, 350°F, gas mark 4.

Slice the courgettes lengthways in fat slices and place on a baking tray in a single layer. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and cumin seeds. 

courgettes ready for roasting

Roast for 20 minutes until just cooked. Place the roasted courgettes in a food processor with the yoghurt, lemon juice and garlic.

courgettes

Pulse briefly so the mixture still has a bit of texture.

processed courgettes

Stir in the fresh herbs, reserving a few chopped mint leaves, and cheese. Season to taste.

Place in a serving dish and sprinkle with za’atar and the reserved mint leaves. Serve with pitta triangles, sourdough or a mixture of raw vegetables, such as carrots, peppers and radishes.

Middle Eastern courgette dip

Zhoug (green chilli sauce)

Zhoug green chilli sauce Zhoug (pronounced ‘shug’, as in the first syllable of sugar) is a green herb chilli paste from Israel and a perfect accompaniment to my wild garlic falafel. The first time I tried zhoug I was hooked, spreading it on toast, to replace olive oil for a Spanish pan con tomate, stirring it through couscous or bulgar wheat or adding a dollop to tomato soup.

It’s important to use good-quality coriander, not the flaccid kind you find in growing in pots in the supermarket. If you see a good bunch of coriander but don’t have time to make zhoug immediately, wrap the bunch in some dampened kitchen roll and keep it in a bag in the fridge to stop it wilting (this method works well with parsley too).

Zhoug is supposed to be fiery, so use the seeds if your chillies aren’t particularly hot.

If you don’t use it straight away, zhoug will keep in a jar in the fridge for a couple of weeks – if you can resist eating it, of course!

Ingredients

50g fresh coriander, including stalks

2 green chillies, seeds left in

1 garlic clove, crushed

1½ tsp cumin

1/8 tsp salt

4 tbsp olive oil

Method

Finely chop the coriander, green chillies and crushed garlic; it’s worth using a mezzaluna for this if you have one. (I prefer the texture of zhoug chopped by hand rather than using a food processor, which can make the end result rather mushy.)

Add the cumin, salt and olive oil.

zhoug with falafel

Baked wild garlic falafel

wild garlic falafelI recently tried making some baked falafel, using a brilliant recipe by Jessy Ellenburger at Instructables. Continuing my wild garlic fetish, which seems to be my theme of April, I decided to make a similar recipe, replacing the usual falafel herb ingredients of parsley and coriander with yep, you’ve guessed, wild garlic. Baking means that this is a healthy and super-easy falafel recipe.

I love a good sauce with my falafel and so whisked up an easy tahini sauce (see below) to go with them, along with the Israeli zhoug, an easy recipe for green chilli sauce shared with me by my friend Marie. To finish it off, I made a simple tomato salad sprinkled with finely shredded wild garlic. I added more wild garlic to the salad leaves that went in the pitta, for a real wild garlic extravaganza!

easy tomato salad with wild garlic

Ingredients

2 tins of chickpeas, drained

50g wild garlic, roughly chopped

1 small onion, finely chopped

2 tsp cumin

1 tsp coriander

½ tsp salt

Pitta breads, extra wild garlic, salad leaves, tomatoes and tahini sauce (see below) to serve

Serves 4

Method

Heat the oven to 180°C. Whizz the chickpeas and wild garlic in a food processor until mixed but not blended to a paste.

Add the onion, spices and salt.

Form into small walnut-sized balls and flatten slightly.

uncooked wild garlic falafel

Place on an oiled baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes, turning them over halfway through.

Meanwhile, make the tahini sauce by whisking together 4 tbsp of light tahini, 3 tbsp water and juice of a lemon, plus a crushed garlic clove and a pinch of salt.

You could also make some zhoug at this point – see my recipe for this here.

Serve the falafel stuffed in pitta with salad, drizzled with the tahini sauce and zhoug, alongside a tomato salad (see above.)

wild garlic falafel in pitta breadI’m entering this seasonal dish in Ren Behan’s Simple and in Season, hosted this month by Helen at Fuss Free Flavours.