Friday, September 9, 2011

Baba Ghanouj

I love eggplant. It's shiny blackish purple skin and curvaceous shape are enticing enough. But its delicate flavor and super creamy texture make it a wonderfully versatile vegetable.

Eggplant is delicious simply sliced and grilled, then brushed with a little balsamic vinaigrette. Prepared this way, it makes a great veggie sandwich with some roasted red pepper, red onion, a little arugula and goat cheese. Eggplant is great in stews such as Ratatouille as well as in layered casseroles such as Eggplant Parmesan and Moussaka.

Today's recipe for Baba Ghanouj is a delicious and easy eggplant and tahini dip. It's wonderful served with fresh pita bread or chips. You can also eat it in a sandwich. Try spreading a thick layer of Baba Ghanouj on whole wheat bread or in a pita pocket. Add sliced tomato, a few cucumber slices, thinly sliced red onion, and some microgreens or sprouts for a tasty meal.

Baba Ghanouj

1 1 lb eggplant
1-2 cloves fresh garlic, chopped and pounded to a coarse paste
4-5 T fresh squeezed lemon juice
2-3 T tahini (sesame paste)
1-2 T extra virgin olive oil
1 t salt, or to taste
1/4 t pepper, or to taste
2-4 T chopped fresh cilantro or Italian parsley

1. Preheat oven to 350 F.

2. Using the tines of a fork, prick the skin of eggplant in a couple of places. Place on a baking sheet and roast the whole eggplant in the oven until it is very soft. About 45 minutes. Set aside to cool. [If you're firing up the grill, roasting the eggplant on the grill is a delicious alternative.]

3. When the eggplant is cool enough to handle, cut it in half and scoop out the soft flesh into a bowl. Compost the peel.

4. In a food processor, or with a fork, mash the eggplant until smooth. If you prefer to have your eggplant a little chunky, that's fine, too.

5. Stir in (or process in) all of the remaining ingredients. Stir until well-combined and smooth.

6. Adjust the seasoning. Add more lemon juice ir tahini, if you prefer. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

I like to use a food mill for step 3 as it grinds the eggplant to a coarse texture, but food mills aren't common kitchen utensils anymore. If you have one, do try it with this recipe.

Using roasted garlic instead of fresh garlic is a nice way to mellow out the strong garlic flavor of this dish. Sometimes I like to add some smoked paprika, too.

You can find tahini in the Middle Eastern section of most markets. If yours doesn't carry it, there are dozens of little Armenian markets in Hollywood and Glendale that are very likely to carry tahini.

Today's bounty included:

From Underwood Family Farms: blackberries, Valencia oranges, romaine, red leaf lettuce, carrots, Cherokee heirloom tomatoes, Hass avocados, yellow wax beans, eggplant, bi-color corn, and Blue Lake green beans.

From Sage Mountain Farm: Roma tomatoes, mixed heirloom tomatoes, green scallions, Russian kale, and cucumber.

From Sweet Tree Farm: Nectarines and pluots.

From Weiser Family Farms: French Fingerling potatoes.

And from Silver Lake Farms: Basil, arugula, and mustard microgreens.



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