Browsing through Katerina’s inspiring Culinary Flavors and looking for meat meal ideas, I saw these gorgeous souvlaki. I thought they would be my next meal, but then I noticed the yogurt mezé Katerina posted along the souvlaki recipe and… ended up making only this cooling side-dish (the skewers are still bookmarked though!). I like practically every yogurt spread/sauce I know, but this one has really surprised me with its complexity and its addictive side: once you start eating it, you will find it very hard to stop. If you plan it as a side-dish, prepare a double batch because you might easily end up with an empty bowl before you even serve the meal.
Contrary to the more famous – but equally delicious – tzatziki, this chunky mezé is not quick or effortless, but the final result is well worth it. Baked or grilled aubergine and pepper, olive-oil stir-fried tomato, thick yogurt and vinegar create together interesting flavours I didn’t really expect. It will keep in the fridge for a couple of days and I think it can be used in a very versatile way. In fact, it makes an excellent bread/cracker spread! I love it on thin crisp bread, both for breakfast and as an all-day snack (instead of the usual fresh goat cheese). It’s a perfect summer dish not only because it’s extremely cooling, but also because the vegetables it includes are now at their best. Thank you so much, Katerina, for making me discover one more delicious Greek treat!
Instead of Greek yogurt I have used smooth fresh cheese (aka quark). I have also slightly changed the amounts of ingredients, so make sure you check the original recipe at Culinary Flavors, an extremely creative blog full of inspiring Greek and international dishes.
TIP: The vegetables should be baked here, but if you prefer grilling them delicately, I’m sure the result will be equally good. Just make sure they are not scorched or the mezé will become bitter.
If you don’t have Greek yogurt, you can use smooth fresh cheese (quark) or any natural yogurt.
Preparation: about 1 hour + several hours in the fridge
Ingredients (serves two as a sauce/side dish with grilled meat):
1 small Western aubergine (or a medium Asian aubergine)
1 medium sweet pepper or bell pepper (I have used here light yellow long pepper and Katerina advised green pepper)
1 small tomato
1 teaspoon olive oil+some to brush vegetables before baking
250 ml (about 1 cup) Greek yogurt or smooth fresh cheese/quark or any natural yogurt
1 tablespoon vinegar (I’ve used Sherry vinegar)
1 big garlic clove, crushed
Preheat the oven to 200°C.
Cut up the aubergine and the pepper into cubes (mine were roughly 1x1cm squares).
Sprinkles with salt and brush with olive oil.
Bake for about 15 minutes or more (until soft).
In the meantime remove the tomato seeds (you can also skin it if you don’t like skin, but putting it into boiling water for 30 seconds and then into a bowl with cold water).
Cut up the tomato into similarly-sized pieces.
Heat some oil in a pan and stir-fry the tomato for one minute until it softens a bit.
Put aside on a strainer to get rid of juices.
Let the baked vegetables cool down.
Combine the yogurt or quark with crushed garlic, add the cooled vegetables, season with vinegar, salt and pepper.
Refrigerate for a couple of hours.