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Mediterranean Meze

Tabbouleh is a classic Middle Eastern grain salad made with bulgur wheat, tomatoes and parsley. Hummus is a spread made from pureed chickpeas and tahini, or sesame seed paste. Both are available in the cold case of many well-stocked supermarkets and delicatessens.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large eggplant
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 Tbs. plain yogurt
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 3 Tbs. olive oil
  • 2 Tbs. minced fresh mint
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • Pinch of freshly ground pepper
  • 1 English (hothouse) cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise and sliced
  • 4 plum tomatoes, cut into wedges
  • 3/4 lb. hummus
  • 2 1/2 cups tabbouleh
  • 8 pita bread rounds, each cut into 4 wedges, warmed

Directions:

Make the eggplant spread
Preheat an oven to 400°F.

Prick the eggplant in several places with a fork and place in a roasting pan. Roast for 30 minutes. Turn the eggplant over and continue to roast until it is very tender and slightly charred and the center has collapsed, about 30 minutes more. Transfer to a colander set over a large bowl and let drain for 30 minutes.

Cut the eggplant in half and scoop out the flesh into a bowl, discarding the skin and stem ends. Add the garlic, cumin, yogurt, lemon juice, 1 Tbs. of the olive oil, 1 Tbs. of the mint, 1/4 tsp. of the salt and the pepper and mix well. Cover and refrigerate until the flavors have blended, about 1 hour.

Make the cucumber-tomato salad
In a bowl, combine the cucumber and tomatoes. Add the remaining 1 Tbs. mint, 2 Tbs. olive oil and 1/4 tsp. salt and stir to combine.

Assemble the platter
Transfer the eggplant spread, cucumber-tomato salad, hummus and tabbouleh to individual bowls and place in the center of a large platter. Arrange the pita wedges around the rim of the platter and serve. Serves 4 to 6.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Food Made Fast Series, Salad, by Brigit L. Binns (Oxmoor House, 2007).