Grilled peppers, lentils and walnut taratoor

Spring has been absolutely scorching in Melbourne so far, this Sunday morning just passed though, was cool enough to jump on the bike and consider turning on the grill to cook some peppers.
It's pretty funny how often I find myself doing things in my leisure time that I often do for work. Roasting eggplants, grilling peppers and chopping salads my MO at Shuki and Louisa and while I love my time off to spend as I please, often I find myself doing just these things, on a much smaller scale. I'm always thinking too of dishes we can add to our catering menus and this one, which was inspired by a dish from the London restaurant Moro was a prime example.

The market closest to my house is run by lovely Turkish man. He's always giving my daughter grapes and peaches and his range of peppers and eggplants is mind boggling. Sunday morning I picked bag of these and after reading the menu at Moro, I grilled them and mixed them up with warm black lentils, mint, lemon and olive oil. I also whipped up a bowl of walnut taratoor, (which is incredibly delicious!) to serve alongside.
Grilled peppers, lentils and walnut taratoor

1/2 cup of lentils
1 bay leaf
1 clove of garlic
8 small or 4 large peppers(a mix of colours is nice)
2 tbs olive oil
Juice of one lemon
Handful of fresh, chopped mint

Walnut taratoor
150g walnuts, toasted
1 clove of garlic, crushed with salt
3 tbs olive oil
1.5 tbs red wine vinegar

Heat up your grill to very hot. Lay the peppers under and cook, turning once until the skins are very black and loose. Place in a plastic bag and set aside to cool. Rinse the lentils and add them to a pot, cover with plenty of water and add the garlic and bay leaf. Place on a high heat and bring to the boil, then simmer slowly. Check them after 20 mins, you want them to have a bit of bite and the cooking time depends on their age. Meanwhile, peel the peppers and cut into strips.

Make the tararoor by placing the walnuts in a food processor. Process until it resemables bread crumbs, add the garlic and pulse again for 10 seconds. Mix the olive oil, vinegar and 1-2 tablespoons of water together and add a little at a time to the walnuts. Season and pour into a bowl.

When the lentils are done, rinse and place in a bowl, pour the olive oil over, toss, then add the lemon juice and season. Add the mint and toss well. Serve with a spoon of taratoor on top, or spread on the bottom of the plate.


Chopped tomato and roasted eggplant salad

We're entering the party season and the calender at Shuki and Louisa is REALLY feeling it. With catering jobs, felafel pop ups and orders for dips on the up and up, the rest of the year is set to be eaten up with chopping, peeling, markets and filling the car with boxes of vegetable and staring again. It's such a great time of year though and it's hard not to feel a kind of exhausted joy about dishing up lots of delicious food.

It's times like these you need a really good lunch! We always stop at midday and feed ourselves a good lunch no matter how busy we are. Working through or eating a quick pita on the run always ends up making you feel lousy at the end of the day. Today, as it hit 35 at midday, Camille and I sat in the back yard in the shade and fell on this salad. It was so delicious. It's just the kind of thing we love to mix up and pile inside pitas to keep us going for the afternoon.

The eggplants were covered in plenty of oil and I put a tray of water in the oven as they were roasted to create steam and make sure the eggplants didn't dry out. The warm eggplants were mixed with tomatoes, salt, lots of olive oil, lemon juice, corriander and mint. Then a bit of creamy tahini on top, with sumac. I really love the way the tahini, tomato and lemon juices pool together in the bottom of the bowl for this one. Such a good, easy lunch or dinner for a hot day or night!

Chopped tomato and roasted eggplant salad

Preheat the oven to 200C. Dice one large eggplant and toss with 3 tablespoons of olive oil and a big pinch of salt. Place them in the oven with a tray of water underneath and roast, turning occasionally for around 30-40 minutes until they are starting to brown and are soft through. While the eggplants are roasting, mix 2tbs of tahini with half a cup of water, a little lemon juice, salt and a little olive oil. Mix til smooth and creamy.

Place in a bowl with 4 diced ripe tomatoes, olive oil to coat, salt to taste and the juice of one lemon. Add a handful each of coriander and mint and toss gently. Lay on a platter and top with tahini and sumac.