I knew that I had to make this as a special appetizer after seeing it on Chef Mimi’s blog. It sounded so interesting- a baba ghanoush without eggplant or tahini, but with zucchini, yogurt, and Roquefort cheese. The charred zucchini resembled bananas when they were peeled; cooking it this way gave it smokiness.
It may not be absolutely beautiful, but it was absolutely delicious. Ottolenghi describes its appearance as “rather like a volcanic eruption.” 🙂 It was a little bit time-consuming to prepare, but was worth every bit of time and effort.
This recipe was adapted from Plenty More: Vibrant Vegetable Cooking from London’s Ottolenghi by Yotam Ottolenghi. I used French whole milk plain yogurt instead of goat’s milk yogurt and used regular chile flakes instead of Urfa chile flakes. I also crumbled the cheese rather than grating it. I definitely plan to make it again- we loved it. Incredible.
Yield: Serves 6 as a starter or as part of a mezze selection
5 large zucchini (about 2.75 pounds/1.2 kg)
1/3 cup (80 g) plain whole milk yogurt
2 T (15 g) coarsely crumbled Roquefort cheese
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 T (15 g) unsalted butter
2 1/2 T (20 g) pine nuts
pinch of chile flakes
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 clove garlic, crushed in a garlic press
1/2 tsp za’atar, to finish
coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
warm naan, for serving
Preheat the broiler.
Place the zucchini on a baking sheet lined with foil and broil for about 45 minutes, turning once or twice during the cooking, until the skin crisps and browns nicely.
Remove from the oven and, once cool enough to handle, peel off the zucchini skin, discard it, and set the flesh aside in a colander to drain. The zucchini can be served warm or at room temperature.
Put the yogurt in a small saucepan with the Roquefort and egg. Heat very gently for about 3 minutes, stirring often. You want the yogurt to heat through but not quite reach the simmering point. Set aside and keep warm.
Melt the butter in a small sauté pan with the pine nuts over low heat and cook, stirring often, for 3 to 4 minutes, until the nuts turn golden brown. Stir in the chile flakes and lemon juice and set aside.
Put the zucchini in a bowl and add the garlic, a scant 1/2 tsp coarse salt, and a good grind of black pepper. Gently mash everything together with a fork and then spread the mixture out on a large serving platter.
Spoon the warm yogurt sauce on top, followed by a drizzle of the warm chile butter and the pine nuts.
Finish with a sprinkle of za’atar and serve at once with warm naan.