Mutabal Kousa: Summer Zucchini Salad
A Summer cooling salad with fire charred zucchini, mint and yogurt.
Since my trip to go home to Palestine to visit my family was cancelled this summer I found myself cooking dishes that evoke my senses. These summer dishes are an account of memories that dance through my childhood and the summers spent with my family in Palestine. The fresh herbs my mother plants, the seasonal vegetables and the tree ripened fruit in my grandparent's garden. The rhythmic beat of teta's mortar and pestle pounding this mutabal. These are the type of things that evoke more than just memories, they excite my imagination and fill my senses with possibilities. So this summer when Palestine seems in the far distance you will find me cooking from home, the summer dishes that my grandmothers and mother make.
Summer lunch at my grandmother's house was often filled with dishes like this one. Teta always cooked with whatever is in season. She would be happy eating a bowl of this mutabal with charred crispy bread (that's how she likes it), olives and sliced tomatoes.
Mutabal in Arabic means "seasoned." It often refers to these delicious creamy salads or sides that are often mixed with tahini, yogurt or the combination of both. My teta's (grandmother) cooling mutabal with charred kousa, creamy yogurt and mint is perfect in the summer with grilled meats, part of a mezze plates, serve with pita bread and other crisp veggies.
Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time 45 minutes
2 large zucchini’s or 5 small ones
1 cup plain yogurt
3 garlic cloves
1 jalapeño (optional)
Juice of 1/2 lemon (adjust to taste)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp aleppo pepper (optional)
2 tbls Olive oil plus more for the top
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
To prep the zucchini, Preheat the oven to 375
I like to fire roast the zucchini’s and jalapeño whole first on an open flame just like my teta does. A gas stove top or on the grill will work as well. This step is optional but it adds lots of flavor. Then finish roasting the zucchini in the oven until they are tender and completely cooked through.
Place the zucchini on a baking tray and let it finish cooking in the oven until tender and soft on the inside about 20 minutes depending on the size of your zucchini. The best way to check is insert a skewer or the tip on your knife if it goes in the flesh of the vegetable easily then the vegetable is done. Let them cool to handle.
With a pairing knife peel some of the blackened skin. You don't need to peel it all as it adds a layer of flavor.
Roughly chop the zucchini with a knife, my grandmother would pound the zucchini, garlic and the jalapeno if using in a mortar and pestle.
Add the zucchini, jalapenos, garlic, lemon juice, yogurt, salt and mix to combine. Fold in the fresh chopped mint and the olive oil.
Serve in a bowl, with a generous drizzle of olive oil and extra chopped mint.
Note: you can chop or pound your vegetables to the consistency you like. If you like it more fine chop further.
This cooling mutabal is perfect in the summer with grilled meats, part of a mezze plates, serve with pita bread and other crisp veggies.