Browsing the refrigerated cases at Russo's, I came across containers of baba ghanoush and metch. These made me long for May to arrive when I would pick up this combo from Seta's Mediterranean Foods at the Copley Farmers Market.
I decided to gather some supplies to make a lunch of baba ghanoush and metch the way Chef Seta Dakessian suggested it be served the first time I purchased it from her – wrapped in crisp lettuce leaves!
I found a more detailed lunch idea in an interview the chef gave to the Armenian Mirror Spectator. She said, “Metch is traditionally eaten in lettuce leaves. Eetch is a Turkish word and metch is the Armenian word,” shared Dakessian, and continued, “I personally make it a meal by adding a dollop of hummus or babganoush to the metch in lettuce leaves and then adding fresh tomatoes and lemon cucumbers.”
For this batch, I sliced slim Persian cucumbers and some small Tasty Tom tomatoes that actually smelled and tasted like tomatoes despite the season. You can also chop these and sprinkle them over each wrap. Ed thinks they're easier to eat that way.
For the plate above, I also created three different serving sizes using lettuce leaves from the interior and exterior of the head. You can make these for appetizers, a side dish, or an entrée. If I were making a tray of them for company, I might vary the sizes to let everyone decide what size serving they would like.
You could also arrange the ingredients on a tray and let guests make their own with more toppings available. Think feta cheese, red onion, chopped peppers, and some Aleppo pepper to sprinkle on top for those who would like a bit more heat.
Here metch, baba ghanoush, tomatoes, and cucumbers fill out a meal of avocado toast.
Tasting the difference between Seta's metch and Russo's metch I went off exploring recipes. There are many with subtle variations. And it looks like this is something many of us should add to our repertoire.
A few authors called it tomato tabouli which gives you a pretty good idea of how it's made. The big difference is that in most recipes the bulgar (always fine grained) is expanded or "cooked" in a warm tomato sauce.
Armenian “Eetch” (Bulgur Tomato Salad) adds Aleppo, one of my favorite peppers!
Recipe for tomato tabbouli from the Boston Globe food team.
Tabbouleh vs. Eech: Is There a Difference? – here the Eetch is formed into balls
What's on your Food Lover's shopping list?
Words: Penny & Ed Cherubino
Photos: ©2016 Penny & Ed Cherubino