We get a lot of recipe inspiration from restaurant dishes. One recent meal inspired not only a recipe, but a serving idea, as well. We tried a trio of dips at Chickpea, a Middle Eastern restaurant in Chicago, and the one that really got our attention was a zucchini, mint and yogurt spread called Koosa ma Laban. But we were also quite taken with all the wonderful colors in the restaurant's decor and serving plates.
Many restaurants (and foodbloggers - ourselves included) tend to stick with white dishes to show off the food, or at least neutral colors. Chickpea goes in the opposite direction, spreading its dips onto mismatched dishes with vibrant colors and bold patterns, and topping them with even more color in thoughtful garnishes. The result is really quite stunning, not to mention delicious.
Our homemade spread is a bit thinner and lighter than Chickpea's, with a stronger mint and lemon flavor. If you'd prefer something a little thicker, try adding in some tahini.
Zucchini, Mint and Yogurt Spread
serves 4 as an appetizer
1 large zucchini, sliced lengthwise and cut into 1-inch half-moons
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup Greek yogurt or labneh
2 tablespoons mint, roughly chopped
zest of 1 lemon
salt and pepper
green olives for garnish (optional)
Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle zucchini slices with salt and pepper and add to the pan. Cook for about 5 minutes, turning once, until both sides are nicely browned. Remove from heat.
Once zucchini have cooled to room temperature, place in a food processor. Add mint and lemon zest (reserving a bit of both for garnish), a pinch of salt, pepper and yogurt. Pulse until pureed.
Spread dip onto a serving plate, drizzle with remaining olive oil and sprinkle with reserved mint and lemon zest. Add olives if desired.
Serve with pita wedges or sliced vegetables.
Related: Recipe: D.I.Y. Baba Ghanoush
(Images: Joanna Miller)