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.
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