This dish was inspired by a random night out with some friends to check out an open mic at The Last Bookstore in Downtown Los Angeles.  A friend wanted to scope out the open mic because she was considering participating at some point in the future and I was there for moral support and to enjoy dinner and drinks beforehand.  I walked into the book store and the first thing I see, laid out on a display table in front of me, was Ottolenghi’s Plenty More.  I had cooked out of his Plenty book a couple years ago and I loved it.  I was impressed with the variety and richness of flavors in the recipes.  Some of the ingredients were hard to find, even in Los Angeles where I can usually find pretty much anything if I really want to, but I am always up for a challenge and I like to discover new flavors so I picked up this new book too.

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Upping my still life game with these lovely zucchinis

I basically looked through the Plenty More index for “zucchini” and surveyed my options.  I was making a bunch of things for a picnic at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery (they screen movies there in the summer… it’s not as weird as it sounds, I promise) and dips are always good picnic food so I decided to give this babaganoush recipe a try.

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Pre roasting. Roasting is so easy but it does heat up the kitchen which can be a problem if it’s +100 degrees F outside, which it was.

This cookbook is vegetarian by-the-way.  I used to be incredibly anti-vegetarian but lately I’ve been more of a vegetarian myself.  This whole CSA thing has definitely pushed me in that direction because I have a lot of stuff going on in my life and if I can just cook with what’s in my box and whatever I have in the pantry and/or fridge it saves me a lot of time and money.  Two things I always wish I had more of.

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Whipping up the sauce which was my favorite part of this recipe… to eat.

The recipe had a couple different components.  First I roasted the zucchini, then I made the sauce, then I toasted the pine nuts.  I wouldn’t say it was complicated but it also wasn’t a throw everything in the blender kind of recipe although I think it might have tasted pretty good if I had done that.  Next time I might.

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These suckers burn FAST so don’t leave them unattended and take them off the heat when they look almost done… they’ll keep cooking after you remove them from the heat.

I put this together and sprinkled it with the za’atar that was called for and it looked amazing!  I took some pics and then excitedly stuffed a piece of pita into the dip to taste it.  I was sort of underwhelmed.  I guess I wanted it to be richer and heartier, instead it was really clean and light tasting, which isn’t a bad thing at all!!!  It just wasn’t what I expected.  So yeah, next time I will put more shit in it and I will mix that cheese sauce in there instead of just having it on top and I also might mix some other stuff in with the zucchini.  It was good though and it got eaten up at the picnic so it was definitely a success I just like my dips to be richer.  Below is the recipe with some adjustments I made because I always make adjustments because I always forget stuff or feel the need to improvise.  I can’t help myself!  Post any adjustments or ideas you might have for adjustments in the comments!

Delightful Recipe

Serves 4
Adapted from Plenty More by Yotam Ottolenghi

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 large zucchini
  • 1/3 cup Greek yogurt
  • 2 Tablespoons gorgonzola
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 Tablespoons pine nuts
  • 1/2 teaspoon chile flakes
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon za’atar
  • Preheat the broiler to Hi setting, and line a baking sheet with tin foil, shiny side up.
  • Put zucchini on the baking sheet and slide it onto the top rack of your oven so that it’s a couple inches away from the heat source.
  • Let the zucchini get charred and then rotate them under the broiler until all sides have brown, crispy skin.
  • Remove from the oven to cool.
  • Meanwhile, put the yogurt in a small saucepan with Gorgonzola and egg.  I mixed it all together with a whisk before I put it over the heat.  Heat very gently for about 3 minutes, stirring often so that the eggs don’t curdle. You want the sauce to heat through but not to reach the simmering point.  Once it’s all smooth, incorporated and heated through, set aside.
  • Now the zucchini should be cool enough to handle.  Peel off the charred skin and put it in the compost (alternatively, you can scoop out the flesh with a spoon) and set the flesh aside in a colander to drain.
  • Melt the butter in a small saute pan over low heat.  Once the butter is melted add the pine nuts, stirring often for 3 to 4 minutes until the pine nuts are golden brown.  Remove from heat and stir in chile flakes and lemon juice.  Set aside.
  • Put zucchini, garlic and 1/4 teaspoon of salt into the food processor.  Blend together until incorporated but leave some chunks.
  • To serve, pour zucchini mash into a bowl, spoon yogurt sauce over top, followed by drizzle of the pine nut chile butter, then the pine nuts and top it off with a sprinkle of za’atar.  Serve with pita bread or pita chips.

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