Grand Aioli

    Grand Aioli

    Grand Aioli is my idea of a perfect party dinner. Four different kinds of Aioli, one of them vegan, are served with a stunning spread of different vegetables and protein for dipping. Easy to prepare ahead of time and guaranteed to please everyone, this is one of my favourite dishes to serve, when I want both an impressive and healthy spread. Vegan version included.

    Why You Want to Make This

    Grand Aioli

    Easy

    I know it looks like it’s a lot of effort, but it really isn’t. The 4 types of Aioli take a maximum of 5 minutes each. There is a bit of vegetable chopping, but since you want them large enough to dip comfortably, that’s quickly done. Some roasting, boiling and quick steaming of some of the ingredients and you are ready to assemble. You could buy ready cooked prawns or scampi, if you wanted to skip the extra step of frying them briefly.

    Can be Prepared in Advance

    Most of the ingredients for Grand Aioli can be prepared well in advance. The different aioli keep well in the fridge for several days. Pre-chop the veggies, so you only have to stem or boil them quickly on the day. The eggs can be cooked the day before too. I tend to keep each ingredient in its own container in the fridge, so they keep the perfect flavour.

    Satisfies Everyone

    Always wondering what to serve the vegans and non-vegans, without preparing two different meals? This is it. There is plenty of variety for both here. The Green Cashew Aioli is so delicious, even the non-vegans will want their share. If you’ want to make all the sauces vegan, use a larger quantity of the cashew base without herbs, then divide and mix different flavourings into it.

    Healthy

    During my weight loss journey, which lasted nearly a year, I was looking for feasts that would not throw me back in my progress. This is one of them. With all the fibre from vegetables, protein from prawns and eggs and healthy carbs from the boiled potatoes, you have a pretty balanced meal that is surprisingly low in calories. Depending on how much aioli you spread on said veg of course. But if you use the cashew aioli as base, even that gives you fibre, protein, and healthy fats.

    The Four Types of Aioli

    I made four different kinds of Aioli for this Grand Aioli, though theoretically you could also use my Black Garlic Aioli. It would be delicious for sure.
    Traditional would be just the classic version, but I do love variety in my dips and can never decide on just one.

    Classic Aioli – This is the very classic base version, made with egg, oil a bit of lemon juice, mustard and, of course, garlic

    Chili Aioli – By simply adding a little bit of Sriracha, chili powder and maple syrup to the basic version, we have made a Chili Aioli, for the lovers of spicy food.

    Green Aioli with Greek Yoghurt – For a slightly lighter and fresher version, the basic Aioli gets mixed with 0% fat Greek yoghurt and loads of fresh herbs. Tons of flavour, less fat.

    Green Cashew Aioli – The vegan version. But don’t be fooled, this is no less delicious than the original. I would even say it’s my favourite out of all of them. Still super creamy, lots of flavour from garlic and herbs, I’m completely hooked!

     

    The Ingredients

    Grand Aioli - Ingredients

    This depends a lot on you: What vegetables do you like for dipping? You can get very creative here. Just don’t leave out the potatoes, as they might be the best of all with any of the Aioli.
    Use fresh and good quality new or baby potatoes, for their size and creamy, nutty flavour.

    Broccoli and asparagus are lovely for their green crunchiness, so are green beans.

    I used some squash, since I found some small and pretty ones. Hokkaido was my favourite of them, as it has a particular sweet and nutty flavour when roasted, that I adore.

    Fresh carrots, mini sweetcorn, mini peppers, cherry tomatoes, and radishes can never go amiss. If you can find it, radicchio would be lovely for the bitterness and colour it brings to the table. Unfortunately it is very hard to find in Ireland.

    For protein, boiled eggs and prawns or scampi are typically served. But if you have more meat eaters in the crowd, some sliced roast beef might be nice too. Or grilled chicken breast pieces.

    Lemons, both for garnish and squeezing over last minute. And some Maldon salt for sprinkling.

    On the Aioli front, being at the heart of a Grand Aioli, it will depend which ones you decide to make.

    The classic version is made mainly with eggs, oil, mustard, lemon juice and garlic.

    Grand Aioli - Ingredients

    For the Chili version use Sriracha or any chili sauce you enjoy, chili powder, lime juice and cilantro.

    Grand Aioli - Ingredients

    Fresh herbs and 0% fat Greek yoghurt for the lighter green version.

    Grand Aioli - Ingredients

    The Cashew Aioli is, as the name says, based on cashews which get soaked in water and then blended with water, mustard, lemon juice, garlic, dates (I know this sounds weird, but trust me, it’s delicious) and lots of fresh herbs.

    Grand Aioli - Ingredients

     

    The Process

     

    Aioli

    Prepare the Aioli first since you can leave them in the fridge for the flavours to meld while you prepare the veggies and proteins.
    My personal trick to perfect mayonnaise, leading to perfect Aioli is, to use a stick blender.

    Grand Aioli_Process

    Using a slim jar or container that just fits the stick blenders head with very little room to spare on the sides, you add your egg, mustard, and lemon juice at the bottom, then top it with all of the oil. Gently lower your blender head, equipped with the whisking disc, all the way down, so it covers the egg. Switch it on at full speed and do not move it for a few seconds. You will see mayonnaise forming right away at the bottom. Keep it still until the white mass doesn’t expand upwards further, then gently tip your blender into a diagonal, and very slowly move it upwards.

    Black Garlic Aioli_Process

    This method will do the same as you would do by hand: Incorporate the oil in a thin stream, by creating a vortex that pulls it slowly into the egg, emulsifying it in the process. The trick lies in the waiting time before moving the blender, to give it enough time to pull in the oil until it reaches no more. Once you’ve pulled it all the way up, most of the oil will be incorporated and you will have a firm and very stable mayonnaise.

    Grand Aioli_Process

    Mash your garlic, chop your herbs roughly and add all of them with some salt and pepper to your mayonnaise. Blend again with the pureeing attachment, to create a smooth and delicious Aioli.

    Due to the specific jar requirement, you’ll have to make one portion at a time. If you’d rather make the whole batch at once, you could use a food processor or blender and slowly drizzle the oil in, to emulsify the mayonnaise.

    Variations of Aioli

    I made 3 batches of this basic Aioli, then mixed the chili sauce and maple syrup into one, finely chopped herbs and Greek yoghurt into the next and left one as it was.

    Grand Aioli_Process

    Cashew Aioli

    The Green Cashew Aioli is even easier: Soak the cashews in just boiled water for about 30min. Drain, then add to a high speed blender with the rest of the ingredients and blend until super smooth and creamy. I’m using my Nutribullet for this. You could use the zest of the lemon as I did here, but I found it tastes lovely with just the juice, so I left the step out in the recipe.

    Grand Aioli_Process
    This is one of the recipes that, yes, in theory you could make in a normal blender or food processor, but it will never be as satisfyingly smooth as in the high speed version. So if you, like me back in time, wonder why on earth anyone would eat a grainy cashew sauce, the lack of high speed is the reason.

    Grand Aioli_Process

    Things to Dip

     

    Prepare the Veggies for the Grand Aioli

     

    Depending on what veggies you are using for dipping, cut them into easy dippable pieces.
    Leave the potatoes whole, especially if you got baby potatoes.

    The squash was halved, deseeded with a spoon, and sliced into wedges, drizzled with a little olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper, and roasted on a baking tray until the edges started to brown and caramelize. About 25min at 400°F/200°C.

    Grand Aioli_Process

    Boil the potatoes for about 20-25 minutes until you can easily pierce them with a sharp knife.
    The eggs are boiled for about 7-8 minutes, for that waxy perfection.

    Grand Aioli_Process

    Clean tender stem broccoli, asparagus, and beans, leaving them whole, but cutting off any dry ends. Steam the broccoli for 3-4 minutes, until slightly tender but crunchy. The Asparagus gets 5-10 minutes in the steam, depending on the thickness of your spears. You’ll want them tender but with bite. The beans can be cooked or steamed for about 5-10 minutes, until tender-crisp.
    If using mini sweetcorn, it is also great steamed for 5-6 minutes.

    Prepare the Protein

    If using ready cooked prawns, you don’t need to do anything to them. I used raw and briefly pan fried them with a bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper, until they were opaque and no rawness showing in the middle anymore. This just takes a few minutes.

    Grand Aioli_Meal Prep

    Serve

    Now it’s time to serve. Peel your eggs. Divide the Aioli into smaller serving bowls, so everyone at the table can reach them easily.

    Arrange potatoes, eggs, prawn and vegetables on a big board or plate, sprinkle over a bit of Maldon salt and squeeze over some lemon. Top with lemon wedges and dig into your Grand Aioli!

    Grand Aioli

    Meal Prep

     

    Most parts of this meal can be prepared ahead of time as described above. If you do so, keep each part in a separate container in your fridge.

    The Aioli will last for about 2-3 days covered in the fridge. The Cashew Aioli up to 5 days, as it doesn’t contain raw egg.

    There will most likely be leftovers in form of aioli, which are amazing on sandwich, vegetables of course and any meat you might have. Cold or hot, it’s a pretty universal dip.

     

    Looking for different festive dinner ideas?

     

    Try these:
    Vegetarian Mezze Feast

    Burger with Black Garlic Aioli

    Chinese Duck Pancake Salad with Plum Dressing

    Cranberry Rosemary Roasted Chicken

    Please Comment

     

    Now I’d love to hear from you in the comments!
    Have you tried this? Did you enjoy it?
    What other recipes would you like to see?

    If you enjoyed this recipe, please share and comment. It helps me a lot.

    Grand Aioli

    Grand Aioli

    Grand Aioli is my idea of a perfect party dinner. Four different kinds of Aioli, one of them vegan, are served with a stunning spread of different vegetables and protein for dipping. Easy to prepare ahead of time and guaranteed to please everyone, this is one of my favourite dishes to serve, when I want both an impressive and healthy spread.
    Prep Time 1 hour
    Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
    Total Time 2 hours 30 minutes
    Course Dinner, dip, Feast, Main Course, spread
    Cuisine French, Mediterranean
    Servings 8
    Calories 500 kcal

    Equipment

    • Stick blender, high speed blender

    Ingredients
      

    Aioli

    • 3 eggs very fresh
    • 2 ¼ cups neutral oil such as grapeseed
    • 4 tbsp lemon juice
    • 2 tbsp lime juice
    • 1 ½ tsp Dijon mustard
    • 9 fresh garlic cloves minced
    • 1 ½ tsp kosher salt or more to taste

    Add Ins:

      Chili Aioli:

      • 1 tbsp Sriracha or another chili sauce you enjoy. More or less to taste.
      • 1 tbsp maple syrup
      • 1/8 tsp ancho chili powder or more to taste
      • 2 tbsp fresh cilantro chopped

      Green Herb Aioli

      • ½ cup 0% fat Greek yoghurt
      • 4 tbsp mixed soft herbs like dill parsley and basil, chopped

      Cashew Aioli

      • 1 cup cashews soaked in just boiled water for 30min
      • 2 dates destoned
      • 4-6 tbsp fresh soft herbs like parsley basil and dill, roughly torn
      • 3 cloves fresh garlic
      • 2 tbsp lemon juice
      • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
      • 1 tbsp liquid aminos or Tamari or soy sauce. Liquid Aminos are slightly sweeter so you might have to adjust the seasoning if you are using one of the other options
      • ½-1 cup water start with ½, add more after blending if the aioli is too thick. If you keep it in the fridge, it will thicken more
      • Salt and pepper to taste

      Vegetables for dipping

      • 1 lb baby or new potatoes
      • 1-2 Hokkaido or similar squashes depending on size
      • 1-2 packs tender stem broccoli I used 2 small packs
      • 1 pack green beans about 300g
      • 1-2 bunches of Asparagus depending on size
      • 2 packs mini sweetcorn
      • 1 romaine lettuce heart
      • 1 pack radishes
      • 1 pack cherry tomatoes
      • ½ lb carrots
      • 1 pack mini peppers halved and deseeded

      Protein

      • 2 packs large prawns or scampi ready cooked or raw (fry them if you got raw ones)
      • 8 eggs for boiling use more if you have more than 8 people

      Instructions
       

      Aioli:

      • Start by preparing the Aioli as it benefits from some time in the fridge for the flavours to meld.
      • Use a stick blender for a foolproof method. In a slim jar, add eggs, mustard, and lemon juice (lime juice for one batch for the chili version) at the bottom, then pour in all the oil.
      • Lower the blender head equipped with the whisking disc, covering the egg. Switch on at full speed, keeping it still for a few seconds until mayonnaise forms.
      • Tilt the blender diagonally and slowly move it upwards, allowing the vortex to pull in the oil. This method creates a stable mayonnaise.
      • Mash the garlic and add it with salt to the mayonnaise. Blend again to create a smooth Aioli. Taste and add more salt ort lemon juice to taste.
      • Do this in 3 batches, since a jar slim enough to fit your blender will likely only hold one batch of Aioli. Use lime juice instead of lemon in one portion for the chili sauce.
      • Customize one with chili sauce and maple syrup, another with finely chopped herbs and Greek yogurt, and leave one as it is.

      Cashew Aioli:

      • Soak cashews in just-boiled water for 30 minutes. Drain and add to a high-speed blender with other ingredients.
      • Blend until super smooth and creamy. High-speed blending ensures a satisfyingly smooth texture.

      Things to Dip:

      • Cut veggies into easy dippable pieces. Leave potatoes whole, especially if using baby potatoes.
      • Halve and deseed squash, slice into wedges, drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and roast at 400°F/200°C for about 25 minutes.
      • Boil potatoes for 20-25 minutes until easily pierced with a sharp knife.
      • Boil eggs for 7-8 minutes for waxy perfection.
      • Clean tender stem broccoli, asparagus, and beans, leaving them whole. Steam broccoli for 3-4 minutes, asparagus for 5-10 minutes, and beans for 5-10 minutes until tender-crisp.
      • Steam mini sweetcorn for 5-6 minutes if using.
      • If using ready-cooked prawns, no preparation is needed. If raw, pan-fry briefly with olive oil, salt, and pepper until opaque and cooked through.

      Serving:

      • Peel eggs, slice in half lengthways, and divide Aioli into smaller serving bowls.
      • Arrange potatoes, eggs, prawns, and vegetables on a large board or plate.
      • Sprinkle with Maldon salt, squeeze over some lemon, and top with lemon wedges.
      • Serve and enjoy the Grand Aioli feast!

      Notes

      Most parts of this meal can be prepared ahead of time as described above. If you do so, keep each part in a separate container in your fridge.
      The Aioli will last for about 2-3 days covered in the fridge. The Cashew Aioli up to 5 days, as it doesn’t contain raw egg.
      There will most likely be leftovers in form of aioli, which are amazing on sandwich, vegetables of course and any meat you might have. Cold or hot, it’s a pretty universal dip.
      No nutrition calculation this time, as it depends on the vegetables used, the amount of aioli on each veg when dipping and which aioli you would use. So this has too many variables to calculate. So I used just a general 500cal per portion as a wild estimate. Depending on how much of it you eat and the amount of aioli you spread on your veggies, this may be below or above.

      Nutrition

      Calories: 500kcal
      Nutrition Facts
      Grand Aioli
      Amount per Serving
      Calories
      500
      % Daily Value*
      * Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
      Keyword Easy, For Guests, Healthy, vegan, vegetables, Vegetarian, versatile
      Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
      Cranberry Sauce with Port and Clementines

      Cranberry Sauce with Port and Clementines

      This Cranberry Sauce with Port and Clementines is a very grown up version of your usual Cranberry Sauce. It’s made by caramelising the sugar first, giving it depth of flavour. Even richer by adding port, taking it into Christmas territory via cinnamon and clementines, all working together wonderfully. You can use it as sauce or, if cooked longer, jam.

       

      Why You Want to Make This

       

      Everyone needs a good Cranberry sauce recipe. Especially if you, like me, are utterly tempted by the lovely bright ruby berries appearing on the supermarket shelves around this time of the year.
      So why would you choose this one, considering you have to *gasp* caramelise sugar for it? (I promise, it’s easy)

      Depth of Flavour

      Have I made the very simple Cranberry sauces and jams that just require you to boil the cranberries with some sugar and be done? Of course I have. Were they good? Absolutely.
      So why go through this extra step? Because caramel flavour just adds a whole new dimension to your sauce. The deeply dark, even slightly burnt, caramel flavour elevates this to a dish worthy for a Christmas Table. Either in form of Sauce or, if you prefer, as I do, as jam on your breakfast table.
      It doesn’t add much extra work either. Just a little patience and occasional swirling of your pot, until you achieve that deep amber colour we are aiming for.

      Cranberry Sauce with Port and Clementines

      Port

      Friends told me that for them, Port is the epitome of a Christmas drink. For me, being German, it always was Mulled Wine. So I basically combined the two here by using spices found in mulled wine and adding Port to the Cranberries while cooking, so the alcohol evaporates. It leaves behind its deep, sweet, and fruity notes, adding richness to the slightly astringent cranberries.

      Versatility

      As mentioned above, you can use this as Sauce by cooking shorter and adding some salt and pepper or Jam, by cooking longer. But have you ever tried adding it to butter, making essentially a cranberry compound butter, to spread under chicken skin. This is what I used for my Cranberry Rosemary Roasted Chicken.

       

      The Ingredients

      Cranberry Sauce with Port and Clementines_Ingredients

      Cranberries, of course. You can use fresh or frozen here. I used 1 pack of fresh ones as I found them in the supermarket in Ireland.

      Sugar, which will be caramelised first. Caster sugar, being finer, will melt a tiny bit faster, but I used standard white sugar, and it worked just fine.

      2 cinnamon sticks – You could also use ground cinnamon. About 1 tsp should be enough.

      Allspice – This, together with the cinnamon and the clementine zest, gives this sauce it’s very Christmas-like flavour.

      A pinch of salt – Don’t skip this. It might seem like a tiny addition, but it lifts all the other flavours.

      Clementines – Instead of the more classic oranges, I’m using clementines for their sweeter flavour. Both zest and fileted flesh.

      Port – Use whatever port you’d also like to drink. Not only because there will be plenty left over in the bottle, but also because the flavour of it will shine through very clearly.
      If you’d rather not include alcohol, you could use grape juice instead.

      Variations: Try adding a different alcohol. Red wine, for a less sweet flavour or maybe some Amaretto for almond flavour. In Germany it’s sometimes added to mulled wine and it’s delicious.

      Especially if using it as sauce, some Rosemary or Thyme would be lovely here.

      Orange instead of clementine will do just fine and be a little less sweet.

      The Process

       

      For the clementines I specified zest and filets. I grated the zest, then, with a sharp knife, sliced off the top and bottom peel, so I could see the flesh. Then, following the curve of the fruit, I sliced off the skin, to expose the separate segments, taking off the bitter pith. By cutting with a small knife along the dividing skin between the segments, I cut out the little filets.

      If you feel that’s just way too much work, feel free to just squeeze out the juice after zesting.

      In a heavy based pot, for even heat distribution, add the sugar. Without stirring, but the occasional swirl, let it slowly melt and caramelise. It should turn a deep Amber, but not burn. Use your nose to determine when it reaches caramelisation. A stainless steel pot can help too, as you see the colour. Mine is dark and antistick, but the caramel scent worked perfectly, telling me when it was enough.

      Cranberry Sauce with Port and Clementines_Process

      Once the caramel has reached the desired colour, add the remaining ingredients, and stir, so everything is coated with the caramel.

      Cranberry Sauce with Port and Clementines_Process

      Let the Cranberry Sauce with Port and Clementines simmer for 10-20 minutes, depending on your desired consistency. I wanted a relatively firm and concentrated Jam I could spread on bread, so mine was cooked close to 20min.

      With a spoon, fish out the cinnamon sticks and discard.

      Cranberry Sauce with Port and Clementines_Process

      Serve you Cranberry Sauce with Port and Clementines either warm, as sauce or fill into a very clean jar and keep in the fridge for up to 3 weeks, if used as Jam. This is lovely either with cold meats (Try Roast Beef with crispy potatoes!) or spread on bread or used in a compound butter for all sorts of recipes.

      Cranberry Sauce with Port and Clementines

      Meal Prep

      The Sauce can be made up to a week ahead and will keep fine in the fridge. Just gently warm it through before serving and maybe stir in a little water if needed, as it tends to firm up when cooling.

      As Jam, this is absolutely delicious on my Sourdough Pumpkin Soda Bread, which would be lovely as Christmas breakfast.

      Please Comment

      Now I’d love to hear from you in the comments!
      Have you tried this? Did you enjoy it?
      What other recipes would you like to see?

      If you enjoyed this recipe, please share and comment. It helps me a lot.

      Cranberry Sauce with Port and Clementines

      Cranberry Sauce with Port and Clementines

      This Cranberry Sauce with Port and Clementines is a very grown up version of your usual Cranberry Sauce. It’s made by caramelising the sugar first, giving it depth of flavour. Even richer by adding port, taking it into Christmas territory via cinnamon and clementines, all working together wonderfully. You can use it as sauce or, if cooked longer, jam.
      Prep Time 10 minutes
      Cook Time 30 minutes
      Total Time 40 minutes
      Course condiment, Ingredient, Side Dish, spread
      Cuisine American
      Servings 6
      Calories 107 kcal

      Ingredients
        

      • ¾ cup + 1 tbsp 180g white sugar
      • 2 cinnamon sticks
      • ½ tsp allspice
      • 3 cups 300g fresh or frozen cranberries
      • 3 Clementines zested and filleted
      • 1 pinch of salt
      • Pepper to taste if using as sauce
      • ¼ cup 60ml ruby port

      Instructions
       

      • Put a heavy-based pan over a medium heat and allow the sugar to melt (without stirring) and turn a rich caramel colour before adding the cranberries, clementine filets and zest, spices and port.
      • Stir to coat everything in the caramel. Bring to a simmer and cook for 10-20 minutes until the cranberries break down and thicken.
      • If you’d like to use this as sauce, season while cooking with salt and pepper and cook a bit shorter, to achieve a more sauce like consistency. For Jam, cook longer, until very thick.
      • Take out the cinnamon sticks and discard.
      • Pour into a very clean Jar and store in the fridge. The Sauce will keep about 1 week in the fridge.

      Notes

      Meal Prep
      The Sauce can be made up to a week ahead and will keep fine in the fridge. Just gently warm it through before serving and maybe stir in a little water if needed, as it tends to firm up when cooling.
      6 Portions:
      Calories: Approximately 107 calories
      Protein: Approximately 0.3 grams
      Carbohydrates: Approximately 27 grams
      Fat: Approximately 0.1 grams
      Fiber: Approximately 3 grams

      Nutrition

      Calories: 107kcal
      Nutrition Facts
      Cranberry Sauce with Port and Clementines
      Amount per Serving
      Calories
      107
      % Daily Value*
      * Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
      Keyword Easy, For Guests, fruit, meal prep, Vegetarian
      Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

       

      Burger with Black Garlic Aioli

      Burger with Black Garlic Aioli

      With a good dash of German October Fest spirit, this Pretzel Burger with Black Garlic Aioli might be my ultimate favourite burger. The brioche pretzel buns are chewy, with the typical flavourful pretzel crust, while having the sweetness and tenderness of brioche.
      The burger patty is combining the juiciness of pork with classic beef, adding flavour and crunchy edges with some additional ingredients. Brought together by the umami-sweetness of Black Garlic Aioli lifting this to the level of a feast rather than fast food.

      Why You Want to Make This

      The Burger as Feast

      Pretzel Burger with Black Garlic Aioli

      The Buns

      To me, especially after being on my weight loss journey, a burger is a feast, rather than a convenient fast food. Which is exactly the treatment they get in this recipe.

      Having worked in the kitchen of a Rock Café in Hanover for most of my 20s, known for the best burgers in town, I had a few ideas on how to take a burger to the next level.

      Pretzel Burger with Black Garlic Aioli

      While we used simple store bought sesame buns in said pub, (Gourmet Burgers weren’t a thing back then, though they were still really good) I decided I wanted the sesame, but up my bun game. As described in detail in my post for the Sourdough Brioche Pretzel Buns I developed especially for this Pretzel Burger with Black Garlic Aioli, you get the rich, soft, and slightly sweet Brioche experience, needed for contrast to the salty burger. It holds the patty firmly in place, avoiding the dreaded patty slip, while soaking up all the flavourful juices, giving you the perfect flavour in each bite.

      A mix of Sourdough, Pretzel and Brioche for the perfect Burger Bun

      But Brioche alone wasn’t what I wanted, or I could just use storebought brioche buns, right? I wanted the added flavour of sourdough and the crust and chewiness of Pretzel buns, topped with salt and sesame. Adding a decidedly German Octoberfest touch. That’s not something I found anywhere. So I made it, and now you can too.

      Sourdough Brioche Pretzel Buns

      Of course, if you don’t feel like making your own buns, but want to try the rest, feel free to use your favourite shop bought buns.

      The recipe for the Sourdough Brioche Pretzel Buns is separate, since you’ll want to start the preparation of them 2 days before and can easily bake them the day before, to just reheat them in the oven. Or prepare to just before boiling in baking soda water and get them into the oven an hour before you want to eat, so they can cool down a little.

      The Patty

      While burger purists may object, to me, the pure beef patties were never something I found particularly tempting. I feel they are rather dry with mainly iron flavour from the beef, which I’m sure appeals to the steak lovers. And don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy a good steak, but I’d rather have it in its whole form, not ground.

      Then what makes a great patty to me?
      Let’s start with crispy edges. At said Rock Café, they were created by first frying the patties in a pan for meal prep, then deep frying them to heat up before serving. But also: The ingredients of said patties, which I will explain in the Ingredients section.

      While I obviously have no intention of deep frying my burger patties every time, I figured that both air fryer and a second brief fry in the pan will give a very similar crunch. So they get fried just until browned and cooked through first, at which point they are already delicious, but they will be even better when reheated, making them perfect for meal prep and a proper burger feast.

      The Sauces

      Black Garlic Aioli

      Sauces make or break a burger. That much is clear if you look at how popular the Big Mac is. It’s the secret sauce that makes it so addictive. Now I’m not re-creating it here, but rather looking for a gourmet burger sauce, to take this to the next level.
      I found it in Black Garlic Aioli.

      Black Garlic is created by very slowly caramelising bulbs of garlic over several weeks, transforming it into black, shiny nuggets of sweet umami notes, with hints of fruit and garlic. Think balsamic and liquorice, utterly addictive and complex. Some supermarkets offer it these days, or you can make it yourself very easily in a rice cooker or dehydrator. It’s not complicated. All it takes is time, to cause a very slow Maillard reaction.

      The addition of herbs and lemon takes this aioli over the top and makes it utterly addictive. You’ll want it with all kinds of things from fries over sandwiches to using it in a Grand Aioli, it’s just so good.

      If you have a stick blender, it also takes just 5 minutes to make and is super easy. Not that the classic method is hard, slowly drizzling oil into the egg and whisking, it just takes a bit of feel and patience.

      BBQ Sauce

      If I’m creating a feast worthy burger, I’ll create my own Peach BBQ Sauce with Single Malt for it. I mean, who wouldn’t?
      You? Ok, yes, I can see why. And sure, you could use a good shop bought BBQ sauce, I won’t blame you. But if you have 35 minutes to spare, I urge you to try this Peach BBQ Sauce with Single Malt. It’s worth it!
      Sweet and summery fruity notes from the peaches come together with smoky malt whisky together with molasses and brown sugar and liquid smoke, to create a stunningly delicious sauce for all your BBQ needs. It’ll keep for a while, so make extra and enjoy with spareribs or steak.

      Black Garlic Butter with Lemon

      Black Garlic Butter with Lemon

      What do you mean “butter”? In a burger?
      Yup, butter. One of the best kept secrets of that famous “Booster Burger” from said Rock Café (which has long since been eradicated from existence, much to my dismay) was the home made herb butter from the owners’ wife. It was spread onto the cut bun sides, which were then toasted under the Salamander, to have it deliciously melt into the bun, soaking it with garlic-herb flavour.

      I don’t have her secret recipe unfortunately, which consisted of copious amounts of garlic and a lot of fresh herbs, brought to us in huge boxes, we were using so much. But I got pretty close with this one and feel the Black Garlic, which wasn’t in the original, improves it even further.

      Could you just use shop bought garlic butter? Sure. It’ll be delicious. But home made takes 5 minutes (either with black garlic or just fresh, if you can’t find it) and works with so many dishes, you’ll just want it in your fridge all the time. You can also make double and freeze a batch, to have the perfect steak or sandwich butter at your fingertips. Or just make the best garlic bread you ever had.

      The Toppings

      If you use any of the above mentioned ingredients, your burger will already be delicious. So you can choose whichever toppings you love. For me, it’s always the classic combination of crunchy lettuce, fresh cherry tomatoes (Or a really flavourful heirloom tomato if you can find it), sweet dill pickles, red onion rings and crispy fried Serrano ham. Or fried bacon, depending on your preference. I just love how fried Serrano ham shatters into pieces when fried and adds so much salty umami flavour, I don’t miss the fat bacon would bring. And the type of patty I’m making isn’t dry as beef would be, so we don’t need the added fat.

      Pretzel Burger with Black Garlic Aioli_Process

      You could of course add avocado, melted cheese, caramelised onions or go a completely different way by using a vegan burger patty.

      Optional Sides

      Since this Pretzel Burger with Black Garlic Aioli is on the rich side, I wanted something light to go with it, hinting to Germany, but not…well…Sauerkraut. So I made a super quick Herbed Cashew Aioli Slaw (recipe coming soon), which has white cabbage, basically what Sauerkraut is made of, but fresh and playing with the garlic theme of the burger.

      In the picture you also see Sweet Potato Fries, which I made following this easy recipe.

      My wild guess is though, that, depending on the size of your buns, you probably won’t need many sides. But with this being a proper feast, of course you’ll want all the options.

      The Ingredients

      Buns

      Use either my Sourdough Brioche Pretzel Buns recipe or get your favourite shop bought burger bun. If I’m in a hurry, I love Brioche Buns.

      The Patty

      While these are super easy to make, it’s part of where the magic of the famous Booster Burger stemmed from. Now this will be controversial with the beef purists, but they are, in fact, made from half pork and half beef mince. Not low fat either, as we want them juicy. I’m using ready minced beef and pork here, but if you want to take this completely over the top, mince your own.

      Pretzel Burger with Black Garlic Aioli_Ingredients

      Eggs

      Wait what? Not your standard burger, the Booster Burger was going more into the direction of really good and homemade meatballs the German way. Made with eggs and soaked white bread to bind the burgers and add crispy edges and juiciness.

      Baguette

      Another controversial one, water (or milk) soaked baguette which is then squished, to lower the water content again, is used in a similar way as breadcrumbs in meatballs. It binds and adds both juiciness and crunch to the burger patties, making them utterly delicious on their own.

      Flavourings

      Finely chopped onions, ideally caramelised (though I’ve used raw in the past, when in a hurry) add a lovely backbone to the flavourings of this Burger patty. Some dried parsley, Dijon mustard, salt, and pepper complete it. Make more than you need. You’ll definitely want one straight from the pan and freeze some for emergency burger cravings. My freezer is not complete without these.

      Black Garlic Aioli

      Since the black garlic is sweet, the balsamic complements it perfectly, but I felt it needed a more acidic counterpoint, to lift it, hence the addition of lemon zest and juice.

      Black Garlic Aioli_Ingredients

      While the herbs are optional, I urge you to try fresh dill, as it’s very fresh version of anise flavour goes perfect with the black garlic and takes this to a whole different level. The parsley adds minerality, to balance both sweetness and umami. You could use dried, but personal I always miss the freshness when I do.

      For oil you could use ¼ cup of a very mild olive oil instead of part of the neutral oil (I’m using Grapeseed oil), but don’t replace it all with olive oil, as it tends to get bitter when used for mayonnaise.
      And fresh egg of course. This emulsifies the aioli together with the mustard.

      Liquid smoke – I’ve added this specifically for these Black Garlic Aioli Burgers, to complement the flavour and despite not grilling them, give a reminder of summer BBQs. You can leave it out if you don’t have it.

      Black Garlic Lemon Butter

      Use good quality unsalted butter here, so you control the saltiness. Several cloves of Black Garlic. You can vary how strong you’d like the flavour of it. Same goes for fresh garlic.
      Some fresh herbs. I like Dill, Parsley and Basil. Though I left out the basil this time, as mine had died it’s usual winter death.

      Black Garlic Butter with Lemon_Ingredients

      The Process

      Buns

      If you chose to make these incredible Sourdough Brioche Pretzel Buns to take your burgers to the next level, start by feeding the sourdough 2 days before you want to eat them. Then follow the recipe here for the whole process.
      If you’d rather not, get some good burger buns from your supermarket. But honestly: Do make the buns. You won’t regret it, I promise.

      Peach BBQ Sauce

      You can use shop bought. But if you decided to make your own Peach BBQ Sauce with Malt, follow the recipe here.

      Peach BBQ Sauce with Single Malt

      Black Garlic Aioli

      Using a slim jar or container that just fits the stick blenders head with very little room to spare on the sides, you add your egg, Dijon mustard, balsamic vinegar, liquid smoke if using, and lemon juice at the bottom, then top it with all of the oil. Gently lower your blender head, equipped with the whisking disc, all the way down, so it covers the egg. Switch it on at full speed and do not move it for a few seconds. You will see mayonnaise forming right away at the bottom. Keep it still until the white mass doesn’t expand upwards further, then gently tip your blender into a diagonal, and very slowly move it upwards until all the oil is incorporated.

      Black Garlic Aioli_Process

      Mash your garlic and black garlic or chop it, chop your herbs roughly and add all of them with some salt and pepper to your mayonnaise. Blend again with the pureeing attachment, to create a smooth and delicious Black Garlic Aioli. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
      Try not to eat it all with a hunk of fresh bread.

      Keep in a lidded container in the fridge for up to 3 days.

      Black Garlic Butter with Lemon

      Add all the ingredients to the small bowl of your food processor and mix until you have a smooth mass.
      Alternatively, if making by hand: In a medium-sized mixing bowl, let the unsalted butter soften at room temperature. Add all remaining ingredients to the softened butter and mix thoroughly with a fork until well combined.
      Taste the mixture and adjust the seasoning if desired.

      Black Garlic Butter with Lemon_Process
      Once the black garlic lemon butter is well mixed, transfer it to a serving dish or roll it into a log shape using plastic wrap.
      Refrigerate for at least 1 hour to firm up the butter.

      Toppings

      Prepare your toppings. Slice pickles, tomatoes, and onions. Wash your lettuce. Fry Serrano ham or bacon until crispy, if using and keep warm in the oven.

      The Patties

      Caramelize Onions

      If you choose to caramelize your chopped onions, do that first. In a pan with a little olive oil, fry them on medium heat slowly, until caramelised. Don’t let them burn, or they will turn bitter.
      Alternatively add your chopped onions raw.

      Soak Baguette

      Rip your baguette into 3 large pieces. In a medium bowl cover with water (or milk, if you like) and let it sit to soak while you add the remaining ingredients to a large bowl.

      Mix Patties

      In a large bowl, add your pork and beef mince, the eggs, Dijon mustard, dried parsley and salt and pepper to taste.
      Squeeze as much moisture as you can out of your baguette, by squishing it with your hands. Add to the bowl with the meat.

      Pretzel Burger with Black Garlic Aioli_Process

      Using your hands (this is the fun part), mix the whole thing until you have a relatively uniform dough that holds together nicely.

      Pretzel Burger with Black Garlic Aioli_Process

      Fry

      Heat a pan to medium high heat and add some oil. I’m using standard (not extra virgin) olive oil, but any oil that is suited for frying will work.

      Using your hands, form thin, large patties with irregular edges. You don’t want perfectly shaped rounds here, as the edges will crisp up and add the addictive caramelised crunch to the burger.

      Pretzel Burger with Black Garlic Aioli_Process

      Once your pan is hot, fry the patties. I usually manage to get 3 into the pan and keep the rest warm, if I plan to eat them right away.

      Re-heat for extra crispy edges

      However, and this is a step I highly advise you to take, you could prepare them the day before (or weeks and just freeze them) and quickly reheat them when you are ready. Either fry a second time in a very hot pan, to crisp them up or in the air fryer at 400°F/200°C for a few minutes, until hot and with crispy edges.
      I know this sounds unusual for burgers, but trust me, it makes them even more irresistible.

      To Serve

      Briefly re-heat your burger buns by sprinkling them with a little water, then baking for 5-10 mins at 350°F/175°C in the air fryer or oven. Slice them open horizontally. Spread some Black Garlic Butter with Lemon on each side and briefly fry in a hot pan until golden. Or put them under your grill in the oven, but keep a very close eye on them, as they burn quickly.

      Pretzel Burger with Black Garlic Aioli_Process

      Top both sides with a little Black Garlic Aioli. On the bottom side, stack lettuce, followed by a hot burger patty and add your desired toppings. Drizzle with BBQ sauce. Add the top half of the bun and enjoy your Pretzel Burger with Black Garlic Aioli.

      Pretzel Burger with Black Garlic Aioli

      Meal Prep

      You can make pretty much everything in this recipe ahead of time, except for slicing your Tomatoes if using, frying the bacon or Serrano ham and re-heating buns and patties.

      Both the Sourdough Brioche Pretzel Buns and the Burger Patties freeze well. So does the Black garlic Lemon Butter. The Peach BBQ Sauce can me made weeks ahead, the Black garlic Aioli ideally the day before.

      Please Comment

      Now I’d love to hear from you in the comments!
      Have you tried this? Did you enjoy it?
      What other recipes would you like to see?

      If you enjoyed this recipe, please share and comment. It helps me a lot.

      Pretzel Burger with Black Garlic Aioli

      Pretzel Burger with Black Garlic Aioli

      With a good dash of German October Fest spirit, this Pretzel Burger with Black Garlic Aioli might be my ultimate favourite burger. The brioche pretzel buns are chewy, with the typical flavourful pretzel crust, while having the sweetness and tenderness of brioche. The burger patty is combining the juiciness of pork with classic beef, adding flavour and crunchy edges with some additional ingredients. Brought together by the umami-sweetness of Black Garlic Aioli lifting this to the level of a feast rather than fast food.
      Prep Time 1 hour
      Cook Time 30 minutes
      Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
      Course Dinner, Feast, Main Course
      Cuisine Fusion
      Servings 12
      Calories 778 kcal

      Ingredients
        

      Black Garlic Aioli:

      • 1 egg or 2 yolks
      • ¾ cup neutral oil such as grapeseed
      • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
      • 1 tbsp lemon juice
      • Grated zest of 1 lemon
      • ½ tsp Dijon mustard
      • 4 black garlic cloves mashed with a fork.
      • 1 fresh garlic clove minced.
      • ½ tsp kosher salt or more to taste
      • Optional add-ins: 1 tbsp chopped dill or tarragon 1 tbsp chopped parsley

      Black Garlic Butter with Lemon

      • 2/3 cup unsalted butter
      • 4 cloves black garlic mashed
      • 1 clove fresh garlic minced
      • 1 tbsp chopped parsley
      • 1 tbsp chopped dill
      • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
      • Zest of 1 lemon
      • 1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper

      Burger Patties:

      • 1 lb pork mince
      • 1 lb beef mince
      • 1 medium baguette ideally stale
      • 2 eggs
      • 2 tbsp dried parsley
      • 2 onions finely chopped
      • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
      • Salt and pepper to taste

      Sourdough Brioche Pretzel Buns – Recipe see Link in Post

        Optional Toppings:

          Peach BBQ sauce with Malt - See link in post

          • Crunchy Lettuce
          • Crispy fried bacon or Serrano Ham
          • Fresh sliced tomato
          • Sliced dill pickles
          • Sliced onions fresh or caramelised
          • Cheese
          • Avocado

          Instructions
           

          Sourdough Brioche Pretzel Buns:

          • Follow the instructions in the provided link to make the Sourdough Brioche Pretzel Buns. Begin by feeding the sourdough 2 days before you plan to make the buns. Follow the detailed recipe at forthepleasureofeating.com.

          Peach BBQ Sauce (If using):

          • Follow the recipe at forthepleasureofeating.com to make the Peach BBQ Sauce with Malt.

          Black Garlic Aioli:

          • In a slim jar or container, layer egg, Dijon mustard, balsamic vinegar, liquid smoke (if using), and lemon juice.
          • Top with all the oil.
          • Using a stick blender equipped with the whisking disc, blend on full speed without moving for a few seconds until mayonnaise forms at the bottom.
          • Gradually tilt and move the blender upwards until all the oil is incorporated.
          • Mash or chop black garlic and regular garlic, chop herbs, and add them to the mayonnaise with salt and pepper.
          • Blend again with the pureeing attachment until smooth.
          • Taste and adjust seasoning. Keep refrigerated in a lidded container for up to 3 days.

          Black Garlic Butter with Lemon:

          • In a food processor, combine unsalted butter, mashed black garlic, minced fresh garlic, chopped parsley, chopped dill, kosher salt, lemon zest, and freshly ground pepper.
          • Mix until smooth.
          • Transfer to a serving dish or roll into a log shape using plastic wrap.
          • Refrigerate for at least 1 hour to firm up the butter.

          Toppings:

          • Prepare toppings by slicing pickles, tomatoes, and onions, and washing lettuce.
          • Fry Serrano ham or bacon until crispy, if using, and keep warm in the oven.

          Burger Patties:

          • Optionally caramelize chopped onions in a pan with olive oil until golden.
          • In a medium bowl, soak large baguette pieces in water or milk.
          • In a large bowl, combine pork and beef mince, eggs, Dijon mustard, dried parsley, salt, and pepper.
          • Squeeze moisture from the soaked baguette and add it to the meat mixture.
          • Mix by hand until a uniform dough forms.
          • Heat a pan with oil and form thin, irregularly shaped patties with your hands.
          • Fry patties until cooked through and crispy at the edges.

          To Serve:

          • Reheat burger buns by sprinkling with water and baking at 350°F/175°C for 5-10 minutes in the air fryer or oven.
          • Slice buns horizontally and spread Black Garlic Butter with Lemon on each side.
          • Briefly fry in a hot pan until golden or place under the oven grill.
          • Top both sides with Black Garlic Aioli.
          • On the bottom side, stack lettuce, a hot burger patty, and desired toppings.
          • Drizzle with Peach BBQ Sauce.
          • Add the top half of the bun and enjoy your Pretzel Burger with Black Garlic Aioli!

          Notes

          Meal Prep
          You can make pretty much everything in this recipe ahead of time, except for slicing your Tomatoes if using, frying the bacon or Serrano ham and re-heating buns and patties.
          Both the Sourdough Brioche Pretzel Buns and the Burger Patties freeze well. So does the Black garlic Lemon Butter. The Peach BBQ Sauce can me made weeks ahead, the Black garlic Aioli ideally the day before.
          Since both burger size, calories of the buns and toppings vary, I'm giving you a rough estimate of the calories of the patties, rather than the whole burger.
          The other recipes have calories included on their own posts, so you can add them depending on the parts you are using.
          Burger Patties:
          Total Calories per Portion: Approximately 387 calories
          Total Protein per Portion: Approximately 27 grams
          Total Carbohydrates per Portion: Approximately 15 grams
          Total Fat per Portion: Approximately 24 grams
          Total Sodium per Portion: Approximately 376 milligrams
          For the complete Burger as I made it, it added up to this:
          Calories: Approximately 778 calories
          Protein: Approximately 14.2 grams
          Carbohydrates: Approximately 29.7 grams
          Fat: Approximately 32.3 grams
          Sodium: Approximately 393 milligrams

          Nutrition

          Calories: 778kcal
          Nutrition Facts
          Pretzel Burger with Black Garlic Aioli
          Amount per Serving
          Calories
          778
          % Daily Value*
          * Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
          Keyword Black Garlic, burger bun, meal prep, Pretzel, Protein
          Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
          Roasted Garlic Lemon Labneh

          Roasted Garlic Lemon Labneh

          Roasted Garlic Lemon Labneh is a super creamy spread made from strained Greek yoghurt with mild and caramelized roasted garlic and zesty lemon, rounded with some lemony sumac.
          Super quick to make, healthy and with lots of protein, this will become a favourite side dish for sure. If with the Mezze Feast or on its own, you will fall in love with it.

           

          Why You Want to Make This

          Easy

          I know I say this a lot, especially with the recipes for dips, but this one takes basically 5 minutes of active work and a little time in the fridge for the yoghurt and the garlic in the oven or air fryer. After that it’s just a matter of mashing everything together with a fork and you have a delicious spread ready.

          Healthy

          Greek Yoghurt provides protein with all the benefits that come with it and healthy bacteria that help your gut. With the water reduced, it’s a pretty concentrated form of both, which I love.

          Roasted Garlic Lemon Labneh

          Versatile

          Roasted Garlic Lemon Labneh can be used as spread or dip, to go with a Mezze Feast, which is what I was doing. You could top it with roasted cherry tomatoes or mix it with different seasonings. Za’atar would be a classic, but try adding something hot, like harissa or different herbs. Maybe some chopped olives or roasted peppers and within minutes you have a completely different tasting side dish.

           

          The Ingredients

          Full fat Greek yoghurt is the main ingredient for Labneh. Be sure not to use 0% fat, as it will taste rather floury when strained. You want it creamy. I’m using Glenisk, which is widely available in Ireland and I just love the flavour. Make sure to use a type of Greek yoghurt you generally enjoy eating, since the flavour will intensify when the water is reduced.

          Roasted Garlic Lemon Labneh

          Salt

          Both for flavour and quicker removal of the water content, the yoghurt gets mixed with salt. I’m using kosher salt here. If you are using sea salt, half the amount.

          Garlic

          A whole bulb of it for that matter. It will be roasted and caramelized in the oven or air fryer, so no need to be scared of garlic breath. This process also softens it and completely transforms the flavour.
          Since I’ve tried it many years ago for the first time, I’m completely hooked. I usually make several bulbs while I’m at it and store them in the fridge, to use in various ways during the week. Sometime simply spread on toast, with a hint of Maldon salt is heaven. Or on roasted chicken with some cherry tomatoes roasted alongside.

          Lemon

          We are using only the zest here, as the intention is only to add flavour, not liquid back in. Use an unwaxed and untreated lemon or wash thoroughly under hot water first.

          Sumac

          Sumac is a red, lemony tasting spice made from ground berries from the middle east. I absolutely love it in anything that needs a lemony hit or some pretty pink colour. It’s often added to Za’atar and used to sprinkle on top of all sorts of dishes like hummus or Labneh, stews, salads and more. Once you’ve tried it, you’ll use it everywhere.
          It’s widely available in supermarkets these days. But if you can’t find it, you can leave it out or add more lemon zest.

           

          The Process

          Straining the Yoghurt

          Usually this is done in a cheese cloth (or clean kitchen towel), tied to the handle of a wooden spoon, which is rested over a container high enough to allow the liquid to drip out of the yoghurt and left in the fridge overnight.

          Labneh
          However, I read of a method using a coffee filter and since I had my Chemex around, I figured it would be a great use. https://www.chemexcoffeemaker.com/eight-cup-handblown-series-glass-coffeemaker.html
          You can use either the towel method or any type of filter coffee device. I honestly loved the ease of it and the fact that I didn’t have to clean the yoghurt of the towel afterwards. Just take it out of the paper coffee filter and you are done. Minimal cleanup.

          Labneh

          To strain the yoghurt, first mix it with the salt, then add it either to your cheese cloth, towel or coffee filter, set it over a bowl and cover the top with cling film if you are using the filter method. Leave in the fridge for minimum 6h or overnight.

          Roasted Garlic Lemon Labneh

          Once it has reached a very firm and creamy consistency and you see a fair bit of fluid has dripped out, take the labneh out of your chosen straining device and add to a bowl.

          Garlic

          Pre-heat your air fryer or oven to 400°F/200°C

          Cut the very top off your bulb of garlic, just so the cloves are visible. Leave the rest unpeeled. Drizzle with a tiny bit of olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Wrap into a piece of kitchen foil and twist to close.
          Add to the oven for 40-60 minutes or the air fryer for 20-30 minutes or until the cloves are soft and caramelized. This might take a little longer or shorter, depending on the size and freshness of your head of garlic.

          Roasted Garlic Lemon Labneh

          Be careful when taking out and opening, as the little parcel will be very hot. Let it cool down, until easy to handle. Squish the now soft garlic cloves out of the papery skin into a little bowl and smash with a fork until you have a puree.

          Assembly

          Add the smashed, roasted garlic, lemon zest and sumac to your labneh and mix thoroughly with a fork.

          Roasted Garlic Lemon Labneh

          Taste and adjust the seasoning to your preferences.

          Enjoy with warm flat bread, crudites, on toast or with anything savoury you might usually eat with cream cheese.

          Roasted Garlic Lemon Labneh

          Meal Prep

          Since this is simply strained Greek yoghurt with roasted garlic, this should keep for about 1 week in an airtight container in the fridge.
          I often make this on my weekend, to have a snack with some fresh cherry tomatoes on sourdough toast for the week, as it keeps so well.

          And since it mostly makes itself, you can start the preparation the day before you want it and just have 5 minutes of assembly on the day.

          The Mezze Feast

          Here are the recipes posted for the Mezze Feast so far. Mix and match whatever you like, use just one as super quick snack or dinner or all of them for one stunning feast:

          Hummus Two Ways

          Easy Tzatziki

          Muhammara

          Smoked Aubergine Dip

           

          Now I’d love to hear from you in the comments!
          Have you tried this? Did you enjoy it?
          What other recipes would you like to see?

          If you enjoyed this recipe, please share. It helps me a lot.

          Roasted Garlic Lemon Labneh

          Roasted Garlic Lemon Labneh

          Roasted Garlic Lemon Labneh is a super creamy spread made from strained Greek yoghurt with mild and caramelized roasted garlic and zesty lemon, rounded with some lemony sumac. Super quick to make, healthy and with lots of protein, this will become a favourite side dish for sure. If with the Mezze Feast or on its own, you will fall in love with it.
          Prep Time 5 minutes
          Cook Time 40 minutes
          Straining time 6 hours
          Total Time 6 hours 45 minutes
          Course Appetizer, condiment, dip, spread
          Cuisine Middle Eastern
          Servings 8
          Calories 133 kcal

          Ingredients
            

          • 2 cups Greek yoghurt full fat
          • ½ tsp salt

          For the Roasted Garlic Lemon version:

          • 1 bulb garlic
          • 1 lemon zested
          • 1 tsp sumac

          Instructions
           

          Straining the Yogurt:

          • In a mixing bowl, combine the Greek yogurt and salt. Stir well to evenly distribute the salt throughout the yogurt.

          Choose your preferred straining method:

          • a. Cheese Cloth/Towel Method: Use a clean cheesecloth or kitchen towel and tie it to the handle of a wooden spoon. Place this over a container that's high enough to allow the liquid to drain out of the yogurt. Let it rest in the fridge overnight.
          • b. Coffee Filter Method: If using a coffee filter, like a Chemex coffee maker, place the yogurt with salt in the filter. Set it over a bowl and cover the top with cling film. Leave it in the fridge for a minimum of 6 hours or overnight.
          • Once the yogurt has achieved a very firm and creamy consistency, and you see a significant amount of liquid has dripped out, remove the labneh from your chosen straining device and transfer it to a bowl.

          Roasted Garlic:

          • Preheat your air fryer or oven to 400°F/200°C.
          • Cut the very top off the bulb of garlic, exposing the cloves but leaving the rest unpeeled. Drizzle a small amount of olive oil over the garlic and sprinkle with salt. Wrap the garlic in a piece of kitchen foil and twist to seal it.
          • Roast the garlic in the oven for 40-60 minutes or in the air fryer for 20-30 minutes, or until the cloves are soft and caramelized. The exact time may vary depending on the size and freshness of your garlic.
          • Be cautious when removing and opening the foil packet, as it will be very hot. Allow the roasted garlic to cool down until it's easy to handle.
          • Squeeze the now soft garlic cloves out of the papery skin into a small bowl. Mash them with a fork until you have a smooth puree.

          Assembly:

          • Add the mashed, roasted garlic, lemon zest, and sumac to the strained labneh in the bowl.
          • Mix the ingredients thoroughly with a fork, ensuring the roasted garlic, lemon zest, and sumac are evenly distributed throughout the labneh.
          • Taste the labneh and adjust the seasoning to your preferences. You can add more salt or lemon zest if needed.
          • Enjoy your Roasted Garlic Lemon Labneh with warm flatbread, fresh vegetables (crudites), on toast, or with any savoury accompaniments you typically enjoy with cream cheese. This creamy, tangy, and subtly sweet dip is sure to be a crowd-pleaser.

          Notes

          Meal Prep
          Since this is simply strained Greek yoghurt with roasted garlic, this should keep for about 1 week in an airtight container in the fridge.
          I often make this on my weekend, to have a snack with some fresh cherry tomatoes on sourdough toast for the week, as it keeps so well.
          And since it mostly makes itself, you can start the preparation the day before you want it and just have 5 minutes of assembly on the day.
          8 portions
          Calories per Portion: Approximately 133 calories
          Protein per Portion: Approximately 9 grams
          Carbohydrates per Portion: Approximately 4 grams
          Fat per Portion: Approximately 9 grams
          Sodium per Portion: Approximately 175 milligrams

          Nutrition

          Calories: 133kcal
          Nutrition Facts
          Roasted Garlic Lemon Labneh
          Amount per Serving
          Calories
          133
          % Daily Value*
          * Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
          Keyword Easy, For Guests, Healthy, High Protein, meal prep, Protein, Vegetarian, versatile
          Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
          Smoked Aubergine Dip

          Smoked Aubergine Dip

          Similar to Baba ghanoush, this Smoked Aubergine Dip starts with roasted aubergines, that get roasted to smoky, charred perfection, then mixed with creamy Tahini. The difference to the traditional dip lies in the Greek yoghurt I’m adding. For both added creaminess and protein. If you were always sceptical about aubergines, do give this one a try. It certainly converted me into a lover of their creamy texture!

          Why You Want to Make This

           

          Great for a Mezze Feast

          Another amazing middle eastern dip for the upcoming Mezze Feast, this Smoked Aubergine Dip is highly addictive. Yet super easy to make. While roasting or charring the aubergines takes some time, it’s mostly hands off, while you can get on with other things.
          If you are following along with the feast, you might want to prepare your flatbreads, so they are ready when the dip is. Or the Hummus, if you are preparing it with crudites.

          Versatile

          The very first time I made this, I had it with roasted lamb shoulder many years ago, long before this blog existed and got entirely hooked. I was never a fan of aubergine before, as I felt it doesn’t taste like much and has a weird texture.
          That completely changes once you roast it until completely black and collapsed, which makes them super smoky and creamy when the flesh is scraped out.
          You can eat this with meat (lamb is particularly delicious), as dip, with crudites, as spread or just as a side with all kinds of dishes.

          Healthy

          Based on vegetables, same as the Muhammara I made for the same Mezze Feast, which was based on peppers. And the Hummus, which is based on chickpeas.
          With this one being made from Aubergines, you get all the benefits of high fibre and nutrients, while enjoying a super creamy and smoky dip.

          Easy

          All you need is an oven, air fryer or open flame, to get your aubergines nice and charred. After that a bowl and a fork plus spoon are all the required equipment. Once the aubergine is cooked, it’s just a matter of mushing it a bit with a fork and stirring in the remaining ingredients and you are done.

           

          The Ingredients

           

          Which brings us to the next point indeed. The all-important ingredients.

          Smoked Aubergine Dip _Ingredients

          Aubergines – of course. As mentioned above, are the main ingredient.

          0% fat Greek yoghurt – I love this as addition, because it adds incredible creaminess and fresh tang without adding fat and a fair bit of protein, which we want especially when eating a vegetarian Mezze feast like the one I’m preparing.

          Tahini – The ground sesame paste is essential here, to transform this into the creamy and nutty dip we are looking for. Same as with the Hummus:
          Whatever you do, please don’t use the classic supermarket version of Tahini here, which you will recognise by the firm and hard to scoop paste in a jar topped with a thick layer of oil. I found they are at best just hard to work with, worst case add a horrible, bitter note to whatever you use them in.

          What we are after is creamy, liquid and lovely sesame flavoured. Israeli, Lebanese, and Palestinian version like “Al Nakhil”, which is the one I’m using.
          Admittedly I have to order it online and often it is sold out in Ireland. So when I spot it, I tend to order several containers, for fear of running out.
          I often get it at the Asia Market or Fallon & Byrne in Ireland. But if you live elsewhere in the world, check for the above countries of origin and you should be fine.

          Molasses – This might seem like an odd addition but trust me here. I found it takes this already delicious dip over the top, as it complements the aubergine and nutty Tahini perfectly by adding sweet, almost smoky notes. If you don’t have any, you could use date syrup or even a little honey. But much less than molasses, as it’s sweeter.

          Garlic – I suppose this one is obvious, as it makes nearly each of the dips better. And if you have guests, everyone will eat it, so no one will be bothered by the smell. Adjust the amount to your liking. But beware, it gets stronger if you make the dip in advance.

          Mint – Not traditional, same as the molasses and yoghurt, but it adds herby freshness as contrast to the creamy smokiness which I really love. Dill or parsley could be used instead.

          Lemon – There is barely a dish I wouldn’t add lemon to, to bring out all the flavours. We need the acidity here, to balance the mild and creamy aubergine and nutty Tahini.

           

          The Process

           

          Roasting the Aubergines

          We want to achieve perfect collapsing softness and charred black skin on the aubergines, so we get the addictive smoky flavour that makes this dip so incredible.
          This can be done over a gas flame, as is traditional, or, as I do it since I don’t have a gas hob (and would hate the cleanup) in my air fryer or oven.

          Pre-heat your oven or air fryer to 200°C (400°F).

          Prick holes into your aubergines with a fork. This is important, so they don’t explode. Trust me, you do not want to clean exploded aubergine.
          Rub them with a little olive oil and place either directly in your air fryer (which is much faster than your oven for this) or an ovenproof dish in the middle of your oven.

          Smoked Aubergine Dip Process

          Roast in the air fryer for about 20-30 minutes, turning every 5min. Or until totally collapsed and with charred skin.
          In your oven this will take about 50-60 minutes, turning about 3-4 times.

          Smoked Aubergine Dip Process

          The consistency should be similar to a completely overripe banana. If it’s not, cook them longer. The flesh will look almost translucent, with none of the white firmness left.

          Scooping out the flesh

          Once it comes out of the oven, get a sieve that can take both aubergines and make a cut the long side down with a sharp knife, holding them ideally with tongs or an ovenproof glove, as they will be hot. Place them in the sieve, cut side pointing down, so some of the fluid can drain.

          Smoked Aubergine Dip Process

          When they are cool enough to handle safely, scoop out the flesh with a spoon into a large bowl and mash it thoroughly with a fork. You could use a food processor for this if you want, but usually it’s so easy, that I feel the washing up is more work than the bit of mashing.

          Smoked Aubergine Dip Process

           

          Mixing the dip

          Add the minced garlic, Tahini, Greek yoghurt, molasses, lemon juice, olive oil and some salt and pepper. Stir thoroughly, until you have a creamy dip.

          Smoked Aubergine Dip

          Have a taste and adjust the seasoning to your liking.

          Add the finely chopped mint or any other herbs you enjoy.

          Serve with flatbread, meat, crudites or as part of a Mezze feast.

          Meal Prep

           

          This Smoked Aubergine Dip will last in the fridge for up to 4 days. So you can make it well ahead and enjoy it either as Mezze feast or during the week as healthy snack, which I do a lot.

          For the recipes of the upcoming Mezze Fest so far, check these:
          Muhammara

          Hummus Two Ways

          Easy Tzatziki

          Sourdough Flatbread with Feta

          Roasted Garlic Lemon Labneh

          Now I’d love to hear from you in the comments!
          Have you tried this? Did you enjoy it?
          What other recipes would you like to see?

          If you enjoyed this recipe, please share. It helps me a lot.

          Smoked Aubergine Dip

          Smoked Aubergine Dip

          Similar to Baba ghanoush, this Smoked Aubergine Dip starts with roasted aubergines, that get roasted to smoky, charred perfection, then mixed with creamy Tahini. The difference to the traditional dip lies in the Greek yoghurt I’m adding. For both added creaminess and protein. If you were always sceptical about aubergines, do give this one a try. It certainly converted me into a lover of their creamy texture!
          Prep Time 15 minutes
          Cook Time 50 minutes
          Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
          Course Appetizer, dip, Side Dish, Snack, spread
          Cuisine Middle Eastern
          Servings 8
          Calories 123 kcal

          Ingredients
            

          • 2 medium Aubergines eggplants
          • 4 tbsp Tahini
          • 2 tbsp olive oil
          • 1 cup 0% fat Greek yoghurt
          • ½ lemon juiced
          • 2 garlic cloves minced
          • 1 tbsp molasses
          • 1 tbsp mint finely chopped
          • ½ tsp kosher salt or more to taste

          Instructions
           

          • Preheat your oven or air fryer to 200°C (400°F).
          • Begin by pricking holes into your aubergines with a fork to prevent them from exploding during the cooking process.
          • Rub the aubergines with a little olive oil and place them directly in your air fryer or in an ovenproof dish in the middle of your oven.
          • Roast in the air fryer for about 20-30 minutes, turning every 5 minutes. In the oven, this will take about 50-60 minutes, turning about 3-4 times. The goal is to achieve perfect collapsing softness and charred black skin on the aubergines, which will give your dip a smoky flavour.
          • The consistency should be similar to a completely overripe banana. The flesh will look almost translucent, with none of the white firmness left. If needed, cook them longer until they reach this state.
          • Once the aubergines are done roasting, cut them lengthwise with a sharp knife and, using tongs or an ovenproof glove, place them in a sieve, cut side down, to allow excess liquid to drain. Let them cool for a bit.
          • When the aubergines are cool enough to handle, scoop out the flesh with a spoon into a large bowl and mash it thoroughly with a fork. You can use a food processor if you prefer, but hand mashing is usually sufficient and saves on cleanup.
          • Add the minced garlic, tahini, Greek yogurt, molasses, lemon juice, olive oil, and some salt and pepper to the mashed aubergines. Stir thoroughly until you have a creamy dip. Adjust the seasoning to your liking. Taste and add more salt, pepper, or lemon juice as needed.
          • Finally, stir in the finely chopped mint or any other herbs you enjoy. This will add a fresh and aromatic touch to your dip.
          • Serve your smoked aubergine dip with flatbread, meat, crudites, or as part of a Mezze feast. Enjoy the addictive smoky flavour and creamy texture of this delicious dip!

          Notes

          This Smoked Aubergine Dip will last in the fridge for up to 4 days. So you can make it well ahead and enjoy it either as Mezze feast or during the week as healthy snack, which I do a lot.
          Calories per Portion: Approximately 123 calories
          Protein per Portion: Approximately 3 grams
          Carbohydrates per Portion: Approximately 12 grams
          Fat per Portion: Approximately 7 grams
          Fiber per Portion: Approximately 3 grams
          Sugar per Portion: Approximately 6 grams
          Sodium per Portion: Approximately 158 milligrams
          Please note that these values are approximate and can vary based on specific brands and variations in ingredient measurements.

          Nutrition

          Calories: 123kcal
          Nutrition Facts
          Smoked Aubergine Dip
          Amount per Serving
          Calories
          123
          % Daily Value*
          * Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
          Keyword Easy, For Guests, Healthy, High Fibre, Low Calorie, meal prep, Vegetarian, versatile
          Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!