Salata Mechwiya

Sunday, March 22, 2015

In North African countries like Libya and Tunisia, an array of vegetables similar to the below are usually barbecued before being pureed into a sauce and served with meat. I quite like when they are just sliced up and opt to serve them with a preserved lemon, garlic, and harissa drizzle. You may have some vegetables left over (the haloumi never sticks around), in which case you can pulverize to a very rough paste with any remaining drizzle, toss with some cooked couscous or spaghetti, and you’ve got next day’s lunch sorted, no fussing about. 


Up to two days before, prepare the drizzle by combining all the ingredients (except the mint leaves) in a serving bowl. Cover and set aside at room temperature. Just before serving, throw in the torn mint leaves and mix well. Serve with a basting brush. 

North African inspired BBQ'd vegetable salad with a preserved lemon-harissa drizzle
North African inspired BBQ'd vegetable salad with a preserved lemon-harissa drizzle

Pre-heat grill to medium high or when charcoal is burning white, baste the aubergines on both sides a couple of times with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, sprinkle with salt, and lay on the grill to cook for about 5 minutes on each side or till softened and lightly browned. Lay the remaining vegetables on the barbecue, moderately baste with the harissa drizzle and allow to cook on each side for 5 minutes or till cooked and nicely browned on the edges. Baste the aubergines with a little bit of the harissa drizzle during the last 5 minutes of cooking. The garlic, fennel, and artichokes will take the longest. Cook the halloumi during the last 5-8 minutes. Transfer all to a serving plate as they are ready, cover and set aside. Serve with the remaining harrissa drizzle with the basting brush.


Prepare ahead note: The drizzle is best when prepared in advance to allow for the flavours to infuse. Most vegetables, aside from the aubergines, can be sliced up the night before. Halloumi can also be sliced in advanced. All that is left on the day is to bring vegetables back to room temperature, to fire up the grill, and slice the aubergines.


  • 1 tsp harissa
  • 125ml/4fl oz/1/2 cup olive oil
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 1 tsp finely chopped preserved lemon
  • 5 mint leaves, torn
  • 1 fat garlic clove, finely chopped


  • 2 aubergines, sliced lengthwise in thirds
  • 6 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 head of garlic, crown trimmed
  • 6 artichoke hearts (1 jar in brine), rinsed well
  • 1-2 fennels, sliced lengthwise in thirds
  • 3 banana onions, sliced lengthwise in half
  • 2 courgettes, sliced lengthwise in thirds
  • 3 assorted small sweet peppers, sliced lengthwise in half
  • 3 red chillies, sliced lengthwise in half
  • 500g/1 lb 2 oz haloumi cheese, sliced lengthwise in thirds
North African inspired BBQ'd vegetable salad with a preserved lemon-harissa drizzle