Tunisian food features dishes based on simple ingredients dressed in plenty of heat and spice. Mechouia salad is typical of this sunny cuisine, like Shakshukah. Hard-boiled eggs offset chilies and make mechouia a filling vegetarian dish.
To capture this salad’s most authentic flavor, build a coal fire and bury the whole vegetables in the embers until they’re roasted through and soft.
But if a cooking fire isn’t practical, go ahead and grill the vegetables on a barbeque, on the stove top, or even in your oven grill. The idea is to get them cooked to the point of charring their outsides. That gives the characteristic smoky flavor that, like the grilled eggplant in our Baba Ganoush recipe, will take your senses to Tunis.
Mechouia, Tunisian Charred Vegetable Salad
4 large plum tomatoes
2 green bell peppers
2 fresh, mild chillies such as poblano or Anaheim
1 large red onion
4 large garlic cloves
½ teaspoon ground caraway seeds
½ teaspoon coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
Zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and halved
Do not peel any of the vegetables. Grill until they’re soft and the peels are charred. Keep an eye on the vegetables, as each kind cooks at a different rate. Remove them to a large dish or platter.
Allow the vegetables to cool. Peel the garlic. Discard any really burnt onion parts. Peel and seed the tomatoes and peppers. Turn the tomatoes upside down in a sieve or colander to drain for a few minutes.
Chop the vegetables finely, or process in a food processor into a coarse mix – not a smooth puree.
Add lemon zest and juice, dry spices, and salt. Mix. Add olive oil and mix briefly.
Serve in a deep dish, garnished with olives and hard-boiled eggs.
More summery Middle-Eastern recipes on Green Prophet:
Image of mechouia salad by seelensturm via Flickr.