From City Palate publisher, Gail Norton
This has become my favourite recipe this season. It’s my take on a recipe from Ottolenghi’s Plenty More book. It’s a really pretty dish with lots of colour and texture. Serve with large Iranian bread or pita that you tear off big chunks to scoop through the layers – YUM!
5 large zucchini (about 2-3/4 lbs.)
1 T. unsalted butter
3 T. pistachio nuts
2-1/2 t. sea salt, divided
1/2 t. dried chile flakes
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 c. Greek-style yogurt
2 T. olive oil
2 T. blue cheese, crumbled (optional)
1 t. za’atar*
2 T. pomegranate seeds
Preheat oven to 400°F. Place zucchini on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake the zucchini until the skin is brown, then turn over and brown the other sides. The flesh of the zucchini has to be soft enough to be pierced through with a fork. You can also brown the outside then turn down the oven temperature and bake until they are soft.
Remove the zucchini from the oven, put them in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Poke an air hole in the top, allow them to steam and cool. Pull the skin off of the zucchini and place the flesh into a wire colander to fully drain. This is an important step, if you don’t drain the zucchini thoroughly, the mixture will be watery. You might need to jostle the colander to release as much of the zucchini water as possible.
In a small sauté pan, melt the butter over low heat. Add the pistachios and cook, stirring often, for 3 to 4 minutes, until the nuts are golden. Stir in 1/2 t. of salt and the chile flakes, set aside.
Add half of the minced garlic cloves to the yogurt. Set aside.
Put the fully drained zucchini into a bowl and mash roughly with a fork. Mix in the olive oil, the remaining minced garlic and 2 t. of sea salt. Stir to combine well. Taste and adjust seasonings, you may need to add more salt.
To serve: Place a layer of the zucchini on a platter. Top with a layer of the yogurt. Crumble the blue cheese on top followed by the pistachios, za’atar, rose petals and pomegranate seeds. Serve with pita wedges or Iranian bread that you can find at Middle Eastern groceries. Serves 6-12 as an appetizer.
* Za’atar and rose petals may be found at Savour Fine Foods, The Silk Road Spice Merchant and The Cookbook Co.