Baby gem lettuce with burnt aubergine yoghurt, smacked cucumber & shatta – Sami Tamimi


Prep time: 1 hour 05 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Serves: Serves 4 generously

This colourful salad is from “Falastin” Sami Tamimi’s cookbook.

This is not just a salad, this is THE salad that you want to make to impress your guests, especially when you know that is one of the amazing salads served at “nothing hill” and “Islington” ottolenghi’s restaurants (the pictures bellow are from google).

This salad brings together so many amazing flavors. The dressing here is not a simple vinaigrette nooo, the dressing here is a burnt aubergine yoghurt and tahini cream . And for me this creamy, smoky aubergine dressing goes perfectly with the rest of toppings. Notably the herby cucumber, perfectly flavoured with mint, parsley, garlic and olive oil. Add to it the famous Palestinian condiment “Shatta”, which adds a touch of heat and pulls everything together.

The combination of all these elements and textures : crunchy, creamy, smoky, herby and spicy. The way that all of these ingredients combined together make this dish a delight one. 

This salad works well either as a stand – alone starter or as part of spread or side. You can also add some crumbled feta on top which works very well according to Sami Tamimi, as you can serve it with some hot smoked salmon or trout.

All the elements of this salad can be made ahead of time, if you like : up to a day for the cucumber and the aubergine yoghurt dressing. The shatta needs to be made in advance, it requires at least three days.

View Print Layout
Print Recipe
Close Print

Baby gem lettuce with burnt aubergine yoghurt, smacked cucumber & shatta - Sami Tamimi

  • Prep time: 1 hour 05 minutes
  • Cook time: 20 minutes
  • Total time: 1 hour 25 minutes
  • Serves: Serves 4 generously

Ingredients :

Aubergine yoghurt :

  • 2 large aubergines (500g)
  • 35 g Greek - style yoghurt
  • 1/2 a garlic clove, roughly chopped
  • 1-1/2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1-1/2 Tbsp tahini (25g)
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Smacked cucumber :

  • 1 regular English cucumber, peeled sliced In half lengthways and watery seeds removed (180g) - (not a small Lebanese)
  • 25 g parsley, roughly chopped
  • 25 g mint leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 a garlic clove, roughly chopped
  • 50 ml olive oil

Assembly :

  • 5 - 6 baby gem lettuces ( 500g), based trimmed.
  • 1-1/2 Tbsp Shatta, (red or green)
  • 1/2 tsp Urfa chilli flakes, or small pinch of nigella seeds or black sesame seeds, as an alternative.
  • Salt & black pepper

Method :

Burnt aubergine cream :

  • 1)

    There are two ways to chargrill the aubergines: on an open flame on the stove top, or In a chargrill pan on an induction hob followed by 10 minutes in a hot oven ( see tricks & tips).

    Once cooked, the scooped – out flesh should weigh about 160g. Place it in a clean colander, set aside for an hour or so (or overnight ), over a bowl, to drain.

    Place the flesh in the bowl of a food processor along with the yoghurt, garlic, lemon juice,tahini and 1/2 teaspoon of salt.

    Blitz for about a minute, until completely smooth, then set aside until needed.

Smacked cucumber :

  • 1)

    Prepare the cucumber by placing each half on a chopping board, cut side facing down. Using the flat side of a large knife, lightly “smack” them until bruised but stills holding their shape. Cut the cucumber into roughly 1cm dice and set side.

    Clean the food processor, then add the parsley, mint, garlic, olive oil and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Blitz for about 2 minutes, scraping down the sides a couple of times if you need to, to form a smooth paste, then add the cucumber, set aside for at least 20 minutes ( and up to a day in advance if kept in the fridge ) for the flavours to infuse.

Assembly :

  • 1)

    Slice each head of baby gem lengthways to make 8 long thin wedges ( per lettuce). When ready to assemble, arrange the lettuce on a round platter,overlapping the outer and inner circle to look like the petals of a flower. Lightly sprinkle the wedges with salt and a grind of black pepper, then splatter over the aubergine yoghurt. Spoon over the cucumber, drizzle with the shatta, sprinkle over the chilli flakes and serve.


    Enjoy !!

Tricks & Tips :

How to char the aubergines ?

The more you char your aubergines the smokier the flesh will be.

You have two ways to char them :

1 – if you have a gas flame on an open stove top is to put one aubergine over each gas ring, switch the flame on high and leave it there for 15 – 20 minutes, turning halfway through with long tongs so that all sides get charred. The advantage of doing this is that it is a really quick and very effective way of gettingg the flesh smoky.

The disadvantage is that it can cause a bit of a mess on your stove top if the aubergines leak once they’ve been turned and their skin gets pierced. This mess can either be cleaned up with a bit of elbow grease or minimised in the first place If you cover your stove top with aluminium foil. Make holes in the foil for the gas rings to pop through and then proceed.

2- If you have an induction hob you’ll need to heat up a chargrill pan until it’s very hot – sit it on a high heat for at least 5 minutes, until smoking – then add the aubergines directly to the pan. Pierce them a few times with a sharp knife before doing so. This method takes longer than open – flame option – about 35 or 40 minutes, again turning throughout with long tongs so that all sides get charred – but you will get the same result. At the end of the 40 minutes, transfer the aubergines to foil – lined tray and place under a hot grill for a final 10 minutes.

Once charred ( whether on a gas ring or hob), place the aubergines in a colander. Once cool enough to handle, slit them open to scoop out the flesh and place in a clean colander. Don’t worry if some of the charred skin sticks to the flesh : this all adds to the smoky flavour. Set aside fo an hour or so ( or overnight), over a bowl, to drain.


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Previous recipe Next recipe