Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Baba Ghanoush!

If you've been reading my posts, no you're not crazy, I have posted about baba ghanoush before. It was posted along with a carrot and beet slaw that I made for July 4th. Since then, I have had a number of people tell me that they didn't see it so I decided it was time for it to get its own post. Besides, as my wife just reminded me this time of year is prime eggplant season.

Baba Ghanoush topped with a sprinkle of paprika and
olive oil.  Served with baguette slices and pita triangles.
    So, first things first.  What IS baba ghanoush? If you'd asked me a couple of years ago I couldn't have answered this question. I had never even heard of it much less made it. A lot can change in a couple of years and it's now one of my favorites.

    What does it taste like? Well, it's a lot like hummus, only in my opinion, better. The two are actually quite similar. Hummus is made with chickpeas and I've never cared for the texture of chickpeas. Baba ghanoush is made with roasted eggplant and doesn't have that chalky texture associated with chickpeas. 

    Even if you don't care for eggplant it's worth trying baba ghanoush. Grilling the eggplant adds a very different, smoky flavor that's not usually associated with eggplant.  It's typically served with pita bread triangles or a thinly sliced baguette.  We like it with baked pita chips as well.


    • 2 large eggplants
    • 6 tbsp tahini (if you've never used it before, tahini is similar to peanut butter but made with sesame seeds)  Tahini can (and frequently does) separate just like natural peanut butter.  If this is the case, mix the oil and solid together before using
    • 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
      Eggplant on the grill
    • 1/4 cup lemon juice
    • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (good quality)
    • 1/3 cup fresh parsley, minced
    1. IMPORTANT: Prick the surface of each eggplant several times with the tines of a fork.
    2. On the grill, on a grill pan or under the broiler (set to high) blacken/char the eggplant for 25 minutes or so. You want the skin to be completely shriveled and dark, and the eggplant almost fall-apart tender.  I prefer the grill if possible - it seems to add a smokier flavor than the other methods.
    3. Set them aside to cool slightly.
    4. When cool, slit the length of the eggplant and peel skin back.  Use a spoon and scrape out as much of the flesh as you can into a bowl - even the stuff that's stuck to the inside of the skin (yes, it's messy!)
      Off the grill and ready to split the skin and
      scrape the insides.  Time to get messy!
    5. Two choices for this part - either mix the eggplant manually or in a food processor. I've done both and prefer to do it manually.  There's nothing wrong with the food processor method but I've found that the texture gets TOO smooth.  If you choose to do it by hand, try to get it to a relatively smooth texture without being totally pureed.
    6. Add in all other ingredients, stirring and tasting before adjusting seasonings or other ingredients. In other words, if you really like lemon (or garlic, or parsley, etc), add more than the amount suggested.  Likewise if you don't like an ingredient as much, use less or even none.  There's no science here - just your palate and your tastes.  The one suggestion I would make though is not to skimp on the salt in this particular dish - it does make a huge difference and seems to bring out the other flavors.
    7. Serve with pita triangles, baguette slices or pita chips (or all of the above!)
    8. Enjoy!

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