Qatar, Hadrian’s Wall, and some vegetarian options
In the UK there is a strong tradition of vegetarianism amongst archaeologists…. Mainly fuelled by relative poverty of course, but some of us have also devised ethical and moral reasoning to justify our choice of diet. But most of all us non-meat eaters are explorers and adventurers, plundering world cuisine for tasty, cheap and nutritious meal ideas…Here are two of my favourite side dishes…
Baba Ganoush – the best thing to spread on toast since Marmite…Where would we be without aubergines? I discovered this dish whilst working in Qatar. Qatar is not a good place for non-meat eaters, but there was a Syrian restaurant we used to frequent that made a fantastic meze…including baba ganoush. This is such a good dish for archaeologists to make during the summer especially if you are having a barbecue you can cook the aubergines whilst the barbecue is still smoky and before the carnivores cover it with the blood and melted fat of poor defenseless baby animals…..
Cut three large aubergines into reasonably thick rounds..once upon a time you were told two, cover aubergines with salt and add a weight to press out some of the bitter liquid. You don’t have to do this with supermarket bought aubergines… Dry the aubergines on kitchen towel and place on a very smoky barbecue. You can put them on a grill, but it doesn’t really impart the smoky flavour. Leave on barbecue until they have softened and you can easily peel off the skin. Place in a food processor and blitz briefly. Add the following ingredients in small quantities not allowing the mixture to become too wet. Half a cup of tahini, 2 or 3 chopped garlic cloves or three teaspoons of garlic powder, the juice of a lemon, salt, a dash of olive oil, a sprinkle of chilli powder. Obviously the final taste and texture will be to the taste you prefer, but I like mine quite ‘nutty’….It keeps for days in the fridge as well….
Fennel, orange and chilli salad (Ensalada de hinojo con naranjas)
I was working on an excavation on Hadrian’s Wall in 2009. One evening we held a tapas evening with everyone contributing a different dish (or variation on a traditional Spanish dish). Clare Bond our finds person made this recipe. It was simply the best new taste combination. Everyone must try this salad.
4 large juicy oranges
1 large fennel bulb very thinly sliced (fennikel)
I large mild onion, thinly sliced
2 tbspns of Extra Virgin olive oil
12 stoned plump black olives
I chilli pepper sliced
Parsley, finely chopped
Crispy French bread.
Finely grate the rind from 4 large juicy oranges and put to one side. Cut all of the pith from the oranges holding over a bowl so that any juice can be kept. Slice the peeled oranges horizontally into thin slices again saving any juice. If the oranges don’t produce any juice you may need an extra orange for juicing to make the dressing
Toss the orange slices with the sliced onion and fennel. Whisk the olive oil with the orange juice and then spoon over the orange mixture. Sprinkle the chilli and olives over the top and then finally the parsley and the orange rind. Serve with crispy French bread. Enjoy.