May 10, 2011

Grilled vegetable salad with mung bean balls and home-made tahini

How was your weekend? 

We ended up enjoying a nice Mother's Day lunch at a local cafe, followed by an afternoon tea and cake. It was a gorgeous, sunny autumn day here in Sydney - a perfect setting for such a special day. 

My pick for lunch was a Mediterranean vegetable salad with falafel and tahini. I thought it was a fantastic recipe idea, but unfortunately the dish could've been better. The salad would have been so easy to put together with ingredients you could just pick up at any deli - sundried tomatoes, grilled eggplant, salad leaves, falafel, nuts, etc. I was determined to recreate this dish in my kitchen, with a few adaptations of course. 

I made a fresh herb marinade for the vegetables before lightly grilling them. I opted for cherry tomatoes instead of sundried tomatoes, mung bean balls instead of falafel and made my own tahini which is a real no-brainer and so easy to make. The mung bean balls work really well in this dish and are much easier and quicker to make than falafel. I was fortunate to have some gorgeously juicy limes from Elizabeth's garden to use in the mixture, but lemons would work just as well. I think the outcome is a more colourful, tastier and prettier dish than the one I had at the cafe and still so easy to put together!

 Grilled vegetable salad with mung bean balls and home-made tahini
(Serves 4)
2 tablespoons olive oil
small handful of mixed fresh herbs (thyme, rosemary, oregano), finely chopped
pinch of sea salt
2 medium zucchini, thinly sliced
1 small eggplant, thinly sliced
200g cherry tomatoes, halved
mixed salad leaves
small handful walnuts, toasted
1 cup dried mung beans
handful of fresh mixed herbs (parsley, thyme, oregano)
2 tablespoons of olive oil + 1 tablespoon extra, for brushing
1 lime, zest and juice
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
(Recipe from Group Recipes)
4 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted until golden brown
1 teaspoon (or to taste) sesame oil
pinch of salt
2-3 tablespoons warm water

1. Preheat the oven to 180C and line a baking tray with baking paper.

2. Cook the mung beans in boiling water until soft. Drain and place in a food processor along with a big handful of mixed fresh herbs, olive oil, grated zest and juice of one lime. Season the mixture with a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper. Blitz the mixture in the food processor until smooth.

3. Roll the mung bean mixture into balls and place on a baking tray. Brush each ball with a bit of olive oil and bake for 15-20 minutes. 

4. In the mean while, place the olive oil and the finely chopped mixed herbs in a bowl and season with a pinch of salt. Toss the zucchini and the eggplant slices in the marinade and grill on a grilling pan for one or two minutes on both sides. Set aside. Toss the tomatoes in the left-over marinade and grill them cut side down for 20-30 seconds. Set aside.

5. To make the tahini, place the sesame seeds in a food processor (or a coffee grinder) and blitz until smooth. Add sesame oil, salt and warm water (tablespoon at a time to reach a perfect consistency) and blitz until smooth. Set aside. 

6. To assemble, place the salad leaves on a large platter, top with the grilled vegetables, mung bean balls and scatter the walnuts on top. Serve the salad with tahini and feta cheese (if you wish).