Ever since I went to Greece, I've been obsessed with Mediterranean food. I always enjoyed it but now I crave it even more. This also means I'm always on the hunt for a great Mediterranean restaurant where I live. Fortunately, the last restaurant I tried, Checker Hall, lived up to my expectations. So much so that I'll be dedicating a few posts to this special eatery starting with seared mushrooms and halloumi with black garlic babaghanoush and salsa verde. It's my interpretation of their mushroom skewers and it's mighty delicious if I do say so myself.
Mushrooms and Halloumi with Babaghanoush
Creamy black garlic babaghanoush
- 1 medium eggplant
- 3 tablespoons olive oil divided
- salt and pepper
- 2 black garlic
- ¼ cup tahini
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- ½ cup Greek yogurt plain
- ½ cup chopped parsley
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 garlic clove minced
- ¼ teaspoon ground fennel
- ¼ teaspoon coriander
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoons honey
- ¼ teaspoon red chili flakes
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 12 ounces oyster mushrooms
- 8 ounces halloumi sliced
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
- Cut eggplant in half and score flesh in a crisscross pattern. Drizzle 1 tablespoon oil and season with salt and pepper. Wrap eggplant in foil and place on baking sheet. Roast for 30 minutes or until tender.
- Remove foil and scoop out flesh with a spoon into a strainer. Let sit for 10 minutes to remove excess moisture.
- Mash black garlic and eggplant until well incorporated. Add tahini, lemon juice, and cumin, stirring to combine. Slowly add 2 tablespoons olive oil while whisking eggplant. Stir in yogurt and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
- Make salsa verde. Combine chopped parsley with olive oil, garlic, ground fennel, coriander, red pepper flakes, and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
- Heat honey in a small saute pan over medium heat until it comes to a simmer. Add red chili flakes, stirring to combine. Remove from heat.
- Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms, giving them plenty of space in between and cook until seared, about 4-5- minutes. Flip and sear on the other side, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and keep warm.
- Wipe pan clean. Lay halloumi slices in pan and cook until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Flip and cook until golden brown on the other side, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Drizzle hot honey on top.
- Spread creamy black garlic babaghanoush on serving platter. Arrange mushrooms and halloumi on top and drizzle salsa verde. Serve immediately.
**Helpful tips and common mistakes
You may be tempted to make only one component of this seared mushroom and halloumi dish but I urge you to make all 3 sauces. Trust me, it's a magical combination.
Let's start with my favorite component, the black garlic babaghanoush. Checker hall served their mushrooms with a smoked eggplant sauce which I interpreted as babaghanoush. I decided to take it a step further by making a creamy black garlic version.
Roast the eggplant until the flesh softens. Drain the eggplant, discarding any excess liquid. Then, mash the eggplant with black garlic until well incorporated. It's easier to mix together if the black garlic is warm. You can also mash the black garlic first, then combine it with mashed eggplant.
If you never had black garlic before, it's quite revolutionary. The fermented garlic takes on complex flavors, tasting almost like balsamic vinegar combined with molasses. It's soft, spreadable, and can easily be combined with many different ingredients.
Add the remaining ingredients, adding olive oil while constantly stirring. Finish the black garlic babaghanoush with Greek yogurt for extra creaminess and set it aside.
Now, on to the next sauce, the salsa verde. The salsa verde is much easier to prepare, just combine all of the ingredients and set it aside.
The chili honey is just as easy to make, simply heat the honey with red chili flakes until warm.
You can prepare all 3 sauces the day before but the honey will harden as it cools. If you make the chili honey ahead of time, just pop it in the microwave before using it.
Since we already have a ton of flavor from all of the sauces, we're going to keep the mushrooms simple. Sear the mushrooms until beautifully browned and caramelized and season with salt and pepper. Mushrooms already have a natural umami flavor so they're delicious all on their own.
Keep the mushrooms warm while you sear the halloumi. Halloumi is one of my favorite cheeses because when cooked, it gets an amazing golden crust. There really is nothing else like it.
Drizzle the chili honey over the halloumi and get ready to assemble your mushroom and halloumi plate.
Spread a generous amount of black garlic babaghanoush on a serving plate and pile on the chile honey glazed halloumi and seared mushrooms. Drizzle the salsa verde on top and extra honey if desired.
Now grab a fork and make sure you get every component into one bite. Isn't that truly delicious? I honestly couldn't get enough of this dish. It's savory, sweet, and oh-so-satisfying. Thank you Checker Hall for the inspiration!
For more Mediterranean vegetarian inspiration check out this Mediterranean chickpea bowl!
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