You need to use good feta for this recipe. I prefer a firm sheep’s milk feta similar to the style made in Greece.
Charring the eggplants directly over gas until blackened gives the most amazing smoky flavor to the babaganoush. However, if you don’t have gas or access to a barbecue I’ve offered an oven grill alternative. You’ll find shallots at most supermarkets. They’re slightly sweeter and milder than a red onion, but if you’d prefer, use red onion instead. To keep this plant-based, use brown rice syrup instead of honey in the babaganoush.
I’ve used regular orange baby carrots, but if you can get your hands on mixed coloured ones, they would be wonderful too. Find preserved lemons at specialty food stores, or make your own in advance (I have a recipe on my site mydarlinglemonthyme.com). To make this dish vegan, use brown rice syrup or raw sugar in the dressing.
You can find dried hibiscus flowers and rosewater at specialty food stores. Hibiscus is high in vitamin C and makes a great tea if you find yourself wondering what to do with any leftovers. Simply pour a cup of boiling water over approx 1 teaspoon dried flowers and steep for five minutes before drinking. Add a touch of honey or sugar to sweeten if desired. I find you can get two brews from the flowers before they’re destined for the compost.
This dish is packed with flavour and is light but also very comforting. The braised fennel is based on a recipe in Deborah Madison’s cookbook Vegetable Literacy, however I’ve used ghee in place of olive oil and butter, and simplified the dish a little. If you’d like to keep this plant-based, use olive oil instead of ghee – though not quite as flavourful, it’s still delicious. If you’re soaking and cooking dried chickpeas, allow at least one day before cooking to soak.
Adjust the amount of sriracha if you don’t like it too spicy.
Lauraine is now food columnist at the NZ Listener, judge of Ora King Awards and Outstanding Producer Awards.
Beautifully cooked vegetables are the best part of a meal for me. This bright fresh vegetable salad with contrasting crunch and flavour adds a real hit of colour to the festive table. Prepare everything in advance then refrigerate it but bring back to room temperature before serving.