Peppers roasted to perfection with caramelised onion, halloumi sticks, baba ganoush, and couscous. A simple lunch or dinner.
Some days, you feel so lazy in the kitchen. Recently, I had one of those days. Cooking anything seemed like far too much effort. Putting things together felt like a monstrous task. Aaron and I had roasted some aubergines the week before, for a recipe that will be included in this blog certainly, and the leftovers were waiting in the fridge to be used. What simple thing can you do with roasted aubergine ?
Baba ganoush came the call. A Middle Eastern dip, simple and flavoursome. We added the delicious insides of the aubergine to the handy food processor I referenced here, along with tahini, garlic, olive oil, salt, and lemon and blended. The outcome was an all too easy, spreadable, delicious answer to our previous question.
*Tip that I just discovered after roasting my aubergine: cooking them on a grill outside gives them that smoky delicious flavour. As summer approaches, this may be a good way to practice your grill skills and impress your friends. Otherwise, just roasting them in the oven with olive oil at a high temperature will produce a silky, falling apart aubergine. Also, cut them in half before cooking ! It will make it go quicker, and you won’t end up with an exploded aubergine.
Now, when thinking of a meal my mom always drilled into my head: a vegetable, a meat, a starch. This was the structure of pretty much whatever we ate at home. This same logic comes into my head whenever I cook on my own. We’ve got the vegetable covered, so what starch and meat can go with it? As Aaron doesn’t eat meat, and I try to reduce my meat intake, we decided roasting bell pepper and onion in the oven until soft and dripping in its own juices would be a compliment to the baba ganoush, and of course couscous would be a simple addition.
Bell pepper on a sheet, drizzled in olive oil, joined by an onion sliced up in edible chunks, and all in the grill at a high temperature, it was time to continue. We had about thirty minutes to wait before those would be done.
The most difficult part of the recipe comes here. Halloumi sticks. They are not at all that difficult, but a bit more labour intensive than the baba ganoush. In order to get them extra crispy but still soft inside, I decided to make “halloumi fries”. These are, obviously, not vegan – so skip this bit if you’re looking for a plant based meal.
Take your block of halloumi and cut them into thick sticks, as long as they can be. Mine fell apart, as my halloumi wasn’t the freshest, but they were workable. Some recipes call for egg wash, some don’t, in order to get the flour mix to stick. If the halloumi is fresh enough it should stick fairly well without. I personally did not use an egg wash, I just poured a bit of flour into a bowl, mixed in some spices (pepper, mint, sage, and if I had sumac and za’atar I would have added these as well. Unfortunately, these are not on my current shelf and the market I normally go to to get them is across London), and rolled the halloumi in the flour.
Meanwhile, I had a skillet ready on the stove with a fair amount of vegetable oil in it. Once it was hot enough, I added the sticks in a few at a time, waited until I could see they were golden and crispy, then flipped, then put them on a serving plate. A delicious Greek yogurt and harissa paste mix makes a good dip for these.
By now, the peppers and onions were done. I boiled a kettle of water, poured it over top the couscous, covered, fluffed with fork, added a bit of butter, mixed, and served. Baba ganoush was placed into a more presentable bowl. And voilà. The only reason this recipe takes a while is the waiting time on the bell pepper and eggplant. Otherwise, simple as can be.
Roasted Peppers, Baba Ganoush, and Halloumi Fries
For the baba ganoush:
1 aubergine, halved
4 Tbsp olive oil, divided
a few garlic cloves
1/2 lemon, squeezed
salt, to your liking
Place the two halves of the aubergine face up on a foil lined baking tray, drizzle with olive oil (about 2Tbsp, but don’t hesitate to put more!) Roast the eggplant in the grill of your oven, checking on it to make sure it doesn’t burn, until soft. It should likely take around 30 minutes. Let cool.
Once cooled, remove the skin, place into food processor with the rest of the ingredients and blend until smooth. Voilà! Move into a nicer bowl.
For the roasted peppers:
1 – 2 peppers (yellow or red), halved
1/2 – 1 onion, sliced
Keep the grill hot from the aubergine, and put the peppers and onion on the same tray. Add more olive oil, grill for 15 minutes. Flip the peppers, grill for another 10-15 minutes. Remove from oven, place onto a plate for serving.
For the halloumi:
1 package halloumi
3 Tbsp flour
a mixture of spices, the more the better, about 1/2tsp each: za’atar, sumac, mint, sage, black pepper
vegetable oil for frying
Get a skillet hot with a fair amount of vegetable oil at the bottom, about half an inch worth. Cut the halloumi into thick sticks, roll in the flour mixture. Once the oil is hot, carefully add the sticks and cook about 3 minutes on each side, until you can see they are golden. You will likely have to do this in multiple batches. Place on a plate lined with a paper towel for serving. Mix Greek yogurt and harissa paste as a serving dip option.
For the couscous:
Follow package instructions
Serve it all together, while hot !
Let me know your thoughts, what went well and what did not in this recipe! Don’t hesitate to leave a comment to let me know.
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