On the weekend Brendan and I celebrated Australia Day by dining at a Lebanese restaurant – how very multicultural of us!
The restaurant/cafe was called Cafe Mint. The menu had a great vegetarian/vegan range, including one of the most delicious salads – an Eggplant & Almond Salad with a Minted Tahini Dressing. If you follow me on Instagram (or Facebook, or Twitter) you would have seen the picture I posted of the salad. It was unreal, packed full of flavour but still managed to taste so fresh! I love how mint can add that amazing taste of freshness to a meal – and this salad was full of it. Here’s a photo from the cafe:
The Minted Tahini Dressing was light and binded the salad together perfectly. The eggplant was perfectly cooked – slightly crispy on the outside and smooth and soft on the inside. I could see they had coated the eggplant in some spices and spent most of the meal trying to guess what they were.
I was such a big fan of the flavour-packed meal, that I decided to give this salad a go myself.
Here’s my version of this amazing salad. I’m stoked with how it turned out as it’s very similar in taste (obviously it will never be the same though). The only difference is that the version we ate at Cafe Mint was placed on a bed of hummus. You could definitely do this as it added another element into the mix.
FYI: The Minted Tahini Dressing is also very similar to what I used in this Middle Eastern Pizza recipe I made a while back.
Eggplant & Almond Salad with a Minted Tahini Dressing
(makes 2 large salads)
Eggplant & Almond Salad:
1 eggplant, peeled & cut into wedges
1 punnet of cherry tomatoes, halved
1 bunch of mint, washed & finely chopped
1/4 cup of slivered almonds, or pine nuts (or a combination)
2 TBSP of olive oil
1 tsp of cumin
1 tsp of ground coriander
1/2 tsp of himalayan pink sea salt
1. Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
2. In a baking pan, evenly toss the eggplant with the oil, cumin, coriander and salt. Place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes, or until the eggplant is almost golden and cooked.
3. Sprinkle the halved cherry tomatoes, and the almond slivers (or pine nuts) and return the pan to the oven. Cook for another 5- 10 minutes – until the eggplant and almonds are perfectly golden, and the tomatoes are just blistering. Remove from the oven to cool slightly.
4. Once cooled, arrange on your serving plates then drizzle with your Minted Tahini Dressing.
Minted Tahini Dressing:
1/4 cup of tahini
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup of mint leaves
1 TBSP of raw honey
1 clove of garlic, crushed
pinch of salt
1. Add all ingredients to a blender. Blend until combined and smooth. If you like – add some water to thin the dressing*.
*When I make this dressing I find that it can clump up when blended and become quite dry. In this case, you may want to add a far bit of water to create a thinner consistency. I added around 1/2 cup of water here. Alternatively, you can blend all ingredients apart from the tahini, and then stir the tahini through.
Have you ever tried to create a restaurant meal at home…?