With all of this fancy pants blogging/photography and food-porn taking the internet by storm, I had to play with layering some decadent treats in jars. How could I not?
Serving meals in jars is a delightful way to serve an entire feast in one little punchy package – they make fantastic, transportable treats for beach brunches etc. And the fun thing is to hide scrumptious layers in the bottom of your jar, so the deeper you get, the more surprising exciting layer combos you will create!
I made a few different versions of these jars, and really you can do them with so many different roast vegetables, dips, herbs, the lot. I tried to keep them with a general Levantine flavor (I only just discovered this is the term for the collective cuisine throughout Turkey, Lebanon, Israel, Syria and surrounding countries – comes in handy when making up your own recipes!), but of course you can mix and match any flavors that take your fancy.
For now I will give you the recipe for my favorite combo so far, made with baba ghanouj, roast cauliflower & leek, lentils, yoghurt, pomegranate and herbs .
For the Baba:
- 1 large eggplant
- 2 tbsp tahini
- 1 tbsp olive oil (plus much extra for roasting)
- 4 cloves garlic
- juice from 1/2 a lemon (or more to taste)
- a few good shakes of sweet paprika
- a few shakes of cumin
- a pinch of cayenne pepper
- salt and pepper to taste
For the rest:
- 1/2 a head of cauliflower, broken up into about 1 inch florets (and some smaller for extra caramelizedness)
- 2 small fennel bulbs, quartered lengthwise
- olive oil, salt and pepper for roasting
- 1 cup plain full fat yoghurt
- 1 tbsp honey
- small bunch of mint
- small bunch of corriander (cilantro)
- 1 pomegranate
- 1 cup cooked Puy lentils
Start by preheating your oven to 180 celsius. Coat your cauliflower, fennel bulbs and 3 of the baba ghanoush’s garlic cloves with skin on, in a hefty amount of olive oil and sprinkle with paprika, salt and pepper. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until crispy and golden brown.
Meanwhile over an open flame (I just use my stovetop) rest your eggplant on the metal grate above a medium fire. No need to wrap in al foil, or anything, just boom. Straight on the flame. Turn the eggplant every few minutes until completely charred and black all over – probably about 10 minutes. Using tongs, remove from the flame and place in a small saucepan with a lid, and set aside. This is just to let it steam in its own heat for a while. After about 5 minutes, remove all the blackened skin, and the top of the eggplant, leaving just the flesh. Place in a food processor along with the rest of the ingredients (you should have one raw garlic clove and three roasted, then skins removed). Whizz up until it becomes a fluffy creamy texture – usually needs a couple minutes, with little breaks between to get your lemon, and salt ratios right.
For the rest of the prep; mix your yoghurt and honey together (should just be enough to give it the slightest kiss of sweetness), pick the corriander and mint leaves, remove the pomegranate seeds, and season your puy lentils with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper.
Then, in a glass or a jar, begin to create layers of goodness… I used a trusty silicon spatula (my very favorite kitchen implement), to place everything carefully in the jar and scrape any smudges and smears out of the way for a beautiful clean tiered effect. Make sure to pack PLENTY of those fresh herbs in your jars, I cannot say enough how incredibly that burst of mint brightens all the flavors around it. Play and enjoy!