When I go back to my home town, my parents always have great homemade vegan food. My dad makes fresh bread, we have creative, worldly, plant-based dishes. To top things off, my mom is the queen of delicious vegan desserts. Because their food is so good (and always vegan) it’s a rare occasion when we actually go out to eat.
One of my favorite hometown restaurants is Aladdin’s Natural Eatery. To be fair, the website looks a bit dated, but when you’ve had loyal repeat customers since 1980, I guess you depend a bit less on your website to draw in the crowds. I’ve loved this place long before I went vegan, and it continues to be a perfect win-win when dining with people not following plant-based lifestyles. The Mediterranean menu is pretty big, and I appreciate the “V” and “GF” designations, helping anyone with those dietary considerations in their decision making.
I’ve gotten to the point where I’ve tried every vegan item on the menu, and while I like everything, I keep coming back to the same entree. The Tourlou is this hearty Greek stew served over cous cous, and I absolutely love it. Part of why I was so intrigued by this dish, was it was one of the things I couldn’t make for myself. Now that I live almost 3,000 miles away, I never get to have Aladdin’s Tourlou anymore!
During my last visit, I took lots of mental notes on the flavors, ingredients, textures, and then I got to work. I even recruited my dad to test recipes along with me, and together, we recreated the most wonderful stew. If you are anywhere near Ithaca or Rochester, NY just scoot on over to Aladdin’s for the real thing, but if you can’t visit one of their three locations, give my version a shot.
Tourlou a la Aladdin
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil (or more if you want)
- 2 cups (1 small-medium) of onion, diced
- 4 cups (1 medium) of eggplant; peeled, thickly sliced and quartered
- 2 cups (1 small-medium) of zucchini, thickly sliced and quartered
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 14 oz. can of fire roasted tomatoes
- 1 6 oz. can of tomato paste
- 1 14 oz. can of chickpeas, drained (or 1 can of cooked chickpeas)
- 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
- ½ tsp of salt (or more later if you want it)
- Saute the onion in olive oil.
- Add eggplant, garlic, and zucchini; continue to saute for a while.
- Incorporate tomatoes (both paste and fire roasted) and a half can of water, and stir it all together.
- Add chickpeas and continue to cook on medium heat for at least 30-45 minutes until the zucchini and eggplant break apart and incorporate into the sauce.
- Finish with lemon juice and salt. Cook some more until it reaches the consistency you want so you can spread it on pita, use it for a dip, or serve it over your favorite grain (I like millet for a gluten free option to the restaurant’s cous cous)
This recipe also works well in a crock pot or in a pressure cooker. Just adjust cooking time for step 4.