Recipes with Julie Van Rosendaal: Desserts from Peppino and Lebanese toum

Recipes with Julie Van Rosendaal: Desserts from Peppino and Lebanese toum

This summer I have had several requests for a recipe for Lebanese garlic sauce. They make fantastic versions at Jimmy’s A&A, Jerusalem Shawarma, Damascus Fine Mediterranean Foods, and other eateries around town.

The intense garlic sauce, called toum, is a thick, airy emulsion of fresh garlic, lemon juice, oil and salt; it’s more jiggly than mayonnaise and completely addictive on everything.

Calgary Eye Opener host Angela Knight was as enamored with it as I was – she told me this is hands down her favorite thing I’ve made in the 17 years I’ve been on the show.

Most recipes are similar but I liked Yumna Jawad’s recipe and video on her blog, Feel Good Foodievery helpful.

That’s how I made it!

Van Rosendaal’s variant on toum, a Lebanese garlic sauce. (Julie van Rosendaal)

Toum (Lebanese garlic sauce)

This airy, creamy garlic sauce is easy to make in a food processor and delicious on almost anything.


  • 1 cup peeled garlic cloves
  • 2 tsp kosher or flake salt (or 1 tsp fine salt)
  • 3 cups canola or other neutral oil
  • ½ cup lemon juice

If any of your garlic cloves have green ends, cut them in half lengthwise and pull out the green sprouts from the center.

In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the garlic and salt until finely chopped. Add a small splash of oil — about two to three tablespoons — and pulse, scraping the side of the bowl, until you have a paste.

With the engine running, gradually pour in a little lemon juice, then a little oil, and continue to alternate between lemon juice and some oil, slowly as the mixture emulsifies, until thick and fluffy and all the lemon juice and oil has been incorporated. It should take about 10 minutes.

Yumna covers hers with a paper towel for 24 hours to absorb excess moisture. But I just transferred it to containers to keep in the fridge and didn’t find mine had excess moisture.

It makes about four cups; it will keep in the fridge for at least a month.

The sandwich combines marinated eggplant, chopped tomato, and shredded lettuce on a crusty bun. (Julie van Rosendaal)

Peppino’s grilled eggplant sandwich

Peppino Italian Deli has been a Calgary institution since Joe Lecce opened it in 1993.

Now they have five locations and have gone from nine sandwiches on their menu to 42.

This sandwich is delicious in its simplicity: thinly sliced, grilled eggplant marinated in seasoned olive oil, and layered with chopped tomato and shredded iceberg lettuce on an Italian sub roll.

Eggplant slices are the star of Peppino’s original sandwich. (Julie van Rosendaal)

Nick Lecce explained how they grill their eggplant, and it couldn’t be easier. Don’t salt it, don’t smear it, just slice and grill until nicely charred, then store in a container that has been topped with herb oil and sprinkled with salt, ready for your next sandwich.


  • 1 medium eggplant
  • Seasoned olive oil (available for purchase at Peppino – or infuse your olive oil with a generous amount of dry oregano, thyme, garlic powder, and a pinch of chili flakes)
  • Italian-style crispy sandwiches or sub sandwiches
  • Shredded iceberg lettuce
  • chopped tomato

Slice your eggplant lengthwise into inch thick slices and cook on a preheated grill until nicely charred.

Transfer to a bowl, dish, or container and top with seasoned olive oil. Sprinkle with salt (between layers, if you’re stacking them).

Let marinate for a minimum of 24 hours and a maximum of a week.

When you’re ready to make your sandwich, split your sandwich open and drizzle both sides with the herb oil. Layer grilled eggplant on both sides, then pile with shredded lettuce and chopped tomato.

Serves as much as you want. An eggplant makes three to four big sandwiches.