These two beautiful, colorful mezze dishes are a wonderful light opening to any Middle Eastern meal or to complement other delicious small plates from lamb kebabs, homemade flatbreads, fattoush salad or stuffed vine leaves.
I first discovered baba ganoush at our local Lebanese as a child and completely fell in love with it's intense smoky flavour, but also tasted it on travels across the Middle East and North Africa, so I decided I must make my own version at home. Asparagus is a wonderful British vegetable and given I like to add a Middle Eastern twist to most of the food I cook, these are char-grilled in a sweet, spicy harissa marinade which give a little tickling heat at the back of the throat, as well as the satisfying crunch we're familiar with.
INGREDIENTS (Serves 6 as a mezze spread, with 3-4 other dips/dishes)
x2 small firm aubergines
1 tsp salt
2 tsp black pepper
50g of tahini paste
1 tbsp olive oil
Handful of fresh pomegranate seeds (to serve)
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 small bunch flat leaf parsley (for garnish)
x2 250g packs of asparagus (the chunkier the better)
two tsp of harissa
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
For the baba ganoush, heat up the oven to 200.c ready for cooking. Place the aubergines on a tray, sprinkle with seasoning and drizzle with olive oil. Pierce each aubergine a couple of times and place in the oven for approximately 45mins- 1hr.
The aubergines should completely blacken and look burnt on the outside (don't feat this is intentional and creates the delicious smokey flavor). Remove aubergines from the oven and wait until cool.
Slice the aubergines skins open with a sharp knife and spoon out the soft flesh into a bowl. Combine this with the rest of the ingredients and serve with the pomegranate seeds and parsley for garnish. This can easily be refrigerated and served when needed, ensure it's at room-temperature for eating.
Marinade the asparagus in the oil and harissa for at least 1 hr. Heat up the barbecue and grill the asparagus for 1-2 minutes on each side, depending on how thick they are. This will leave your asparagus slightly blackened and wonderfully crunchy. Alternatively, you can use a griddle pan but I'd recommend blanching the asparagus in boiling water for 1 minute before doing so.