There was this little cafe across the road from where I used to work that made a mean mezze platter for lunch. You might think it’s a strange meal to find at a local spot, but, a lot of cafes in North London are owned by Turks, and this one was no exception. As well as offering British classics like jacket potatoes, paninis and all day fry-ups, these joints often serve a few turkish dishes, flavours that were foreign to me before moving to this city.
The mezze plate had a bit of everything on it: a portion of kisir (a bulgur wheat salad), some hummus and cacik, a few falafels, grilled vegetables and halloumi and a light salad to add some greens. My colleague and I used to order it every other week as a little pick me up treat. It was a healthier option than lasagna with chips. Yes… that’s a thing! Frightful!
“The mezze plate had a bit of everything: Kisir, hummus and cacik, a few falafels, some grilled vegetables and halloumi.”
Even though my life has taken a different path, this bimonthly habit has refused to budge. I now find myself hunting for alternatives to satisfy my cravings and I am sharing with you one of my successful attempts.
I wish I could quickly prepare and serve a feast for myself at every meal. However, the reality is, I just can’t be arsed. It’s very unfortunate that we do so little for ourselves, but I know I’m not the only one in this situation.
However, I have found that, whenever in this mindset, compromising is the best way to cook a successful meal for one and steer away from take-away or ready meals. As for the Scandinavian platter I’ve previously shared, it’s all about finding the best, yet simple way of combining flavours to achieve the dishes we are craving.
“It’s all about finding the best, yet simple way of combining flavours.”
Here, I’ve come up with a quick fried aubergine and walnut salad, drizzled with a creamy tahini dressing, and served with bits and bobs you can source from the supermarket or your local deli. Everybody is allowed to cheat a bit and get some help from professionals – our deli’s hummus is just so good it’s not worth going through the trouble of making my own on a regular basis. Who has time for that anyway?
Hope you’ll enjoy.
Here’s the recipe:
- 1/2 Aubergine
- 1tbsp Flour
- 1/2 tsp Cumin
- Salt and Pepper
- 1 tbsp Olive oil
- a handful Green Leaves, washed (here I've used watercress, but whatever you have at hand will do)
- 6-8 Walnuts
- 1 tbsp Walnut oil (or any nutty flavoured oil)
- 1 tbsp Yogurt
- 1 tbsp Tahini
- 1 tbsp Lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp Sumac
- 1 tbsp Water
- (adjust portion based on your hunger)
- 2-3 falafels
- 2-3 slices Halloumi
- Olive oil
- a big dollop Hummus
- In a small bowl, mix the flour with the cumin and season well with salt and pepper. Keep to one side.
- Cut the aubergine into 1,5cm cubes and toss in the spiced flour until well coated. Shake off and discard the excess flour.
- Heat the olive oil in a pan over high heat. Just before it starts to smoke, carefully add the aubergine and lower the heat to medium. Fry for 5 minutes, turning frequently for the cubes to brown on all sides. Turn the heat down to low and fry for another 2 minutes before transferring to a bowl. Keep aside
- Place all dressing ingredients in a jar, close tightly and shake vigorously. Make sure the tahini is well incorporated and keep aside.
- Right before serving, reheat the falafel in the microwave, following the package's instructions.
- Give the same pan used for the aubergine a quick wipe with some paper towel and heat a drizzle of olive oil over high heat.
- Cut the halloumi into 0.5cm thick slices and fry in the pan until golden brown on both sides.
- On a plate or a board, top a handful of salad leaves with the fried aubergine and a few crushed walnuts. Drizzle with the dressing.
- Serve with the grilled halloumi, warm falafels and a big dollop of hummus.
- A few cherry tomatoes could be a nice addition to the salad if you have some at hand.