Cookbook Review: New Feasts

The Middle Eastern diet (with some regional differences) is largely vegetarian: it relies heavily on vegetables and fruit, herbs and spices and complex carbohydrates, such as pulses and grains. There is some dairy and plenty of olive oil. A limited mount of meat, poultry and fish are eaten, but they are rarely added extras to the daily diet.

The recipes in New Feast are new interpretations of Middle Eastern food, inspired by the spirit of generosity and sharing that characterizes the region. Based on the freshest ingredients and cooked from the heart, Greg and Lucy Malouf’s approach to vegetarian food comes from their love of traditional Middle Eastern flavour combinations.Think glazed apple-raisin fritters, zucchini blossom and preserved lemon risotto with ricotta and parmesan or griddled broccolini with almonds and harissa butter.

With sections dedicated to butters and preserves, cooked vegetable dishes, dips and spreads, pickles and relishes, pastries, pastas, salads, grains and legumes—this is a beautiful cookbook for anyone wanting to take vegetarian cuisine to new, flavoursome heights.

New Feasts: Modern Middle Eastern Vegetarian is available at Amazon.com and Amazon.ca.


Lebanese spiced chickpeas & eggplant with pita

SERVES 4–6

 

500 g (1 lb 2 oz) vine-ripened tomatoes

extra-virgin olive oil

2 medium onions, thinly sliced

2 long green chillies, seeds removed, finely shredded

½ teaspoon ground ginger

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground allspice

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

250 ml (9 fl oz) vegetable stock

sea salt

640 g (1 lb 7 oz) eggplant (aubergine), peeled and cut into fat wedges

250 g (9 oz) cooked chickpeas (good-quality tinned will do, at a pinch)

1 pita

250 g (9 oz) Greek-style yoghurt

 

Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F). Arrange the tomatoes in a roasting tin and drizzle with a generous tablespoon of oil. Roast for 10 minutes, or until the skins are slightly coloured and splitting away from the flesh. Set aside until cool enough to handle, then peel away the skins.

Heat another few tablespoons of oil in a heavy-based flame-proof casserole or saucepan and add the onions, chillies and spices. Sauté very gently for 10 minutes, or until very soft and translucent.

Add the vegetable stock to the pan and bring to the boil. Add ½ teaspoon of salt and reduce to a simmer. Tip in the tomatoes with their roasting juices and simmer for 15–20 minutes, or until the liquid has reduced by around a quarter.

Meanwhile, arrange the eggplant in a large roasting tin and toss with 100 ml (3 ½ fl oz) extra-virgin olive oil and a sprinkling of salt. Roast for 15–20 minutes, or until tender. Shake the pan from time to time to ensure they colour evenly.

Add the chickpeas to the tomato mixture and continue cooking for a further 5 minutes. Finally, add the cooked eggplant (keep the roasting tin to one side and the oven on) and stir in very gently.

Roll up the pita into a tight roll and shred into ½ cm (¼ in) strips. Scatter into the eggplant roasting tin and drizzle with a little more oil. Cook for 5–7 minutes, shaking from time to time until the bread crisps and browns evenly.

Spoon the fatteh into a deep serving bowl. Dollop the yoghurt around the edge of the bowl and then scatter the toasted bread over the top. Serve straight away.

Recipe reprinted with permission from Hardie Grant Books.

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