Dinner party: Ottolenghi’s Middle Eastern Flavors

March’s dinner party gave us a great opportunity to sample some of Ottolenghi’s newest book.  It’s well deserving of it’s reviews.

Our hostess made Zucchini Baba Ghanoush; Cauliflower and Cumin FrittersSalmon with Red Pepper and Hazelnut SalsaArtichoke Gratin and Semolina, Coconut and Marmalade Cake.  These are not easy recipes to execute.  She did an amazing job because there weren’t any leftovers.

I have to preface this with a disclaimer.  I am hit or miss on Middle Eastern foods, mostly because I am incredibly unfamiliar with them.  I would have been too afraid to make this menu but after eating it I am absolutely obsessed.

IMG_1335Getting enough vegetables in my diet is a challenge to begin with and one can only eat so many salads. The zucchini baba ghanoush and cauliflower fritters stared the night off with a smoked warmth that made you feel at home.  I could have just eaten this all night long.  Our hostess later mentioned she was sad that there wasn’t any leftovers, likely because I had three fritters, and then hoped to myself that no one saw I had a fourth.

IMG_1338I do love salmon, so I was looking forward to our main course. The salsa and preparation actually made one forget you were eating fish.  I’m a salmon lover for some of its fishiness but this worked well, the salsa gives it a natural sweetness that isn’t overpowering, but refreshing– a great start for a spring meal! Pair this with a lemony artichoke gratin, and its citrus heaven with a creamy finish.  Cheese and fish, what?  The sauce of the gratin steams the artichokes well so its much less cheesy than what you might assume from other gratin. I should have been beyond stuffed but I just couldn’t get enough of the flavors here!

But then it kept coming.  Concluding our night- a Coconut Orange Semolina Cake.  There’s something special about a cake you can eat for breakfast, a snack, tea or dessert. It was wonderful wrap, not too sweet but a lovely citrus conclusion to an amazing meal.

I can’t wait to try other dishes from Ottolenghi’s books– this dinner has me ready for so much more!

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