Baba Ghanouj

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This middle eastern dip is one of my favorite foods, and that’s even after all my other favorite middle eastern dishes!  Captain Peter dislikes eggplant in any incarnation, including this one.  (Or maybe it’s the breath that results from so much raw garlic!)  So I wait for an invitation to a party and then gleefully head to market for eggplants!

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How can you possibly not love a vegetable that looks like this?  En francais, l’aubergine.  Aren’t they gorgeous?  Your other primary ingredients: juice of one or two lemons (depending on size and juiciness plus another for garnish,), 3-5 tablespoons tahini (this wonderful sesame paste lasts forever in the ice box so go ahead and buy the big jar), 3-5 cloves garlic (depending on taste), salt, olive oil, cayenne pepper, and several tablespoons plain Greek yogurt.

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This is the only challenging part of this recipe – baking the eggplant.  You can use an oven – particularly if you have a broiler – but a grill is the best way to get the charring that gives you the smokey flavor critical to baba ghanouj.  Prick your eggplants 8-10 time in various spots with the tines of a fork, then put on a heated grill.  Lower the lid and cook about 25-30 minutes over medium-high heat, turning every 10 minutes or so to char on all sides.  Above is how it will look when it’s done.  Remove from the grill and immediately wrap in plastic wrap or put in a plastic bag.

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When cool enough to handle, remove from the plastic wrap or bag and this is how they will look.  The peel will come off easily and a spoon will scoop any remaining flesh from corners.  If yours are still a bit more intact, cut in half and scoop the flesh out with a spoon. Put the flesh in a colander to drain for 5-10 minutes.

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Mix in finely-diced garlic and two teaspoons salt and mash vigorously with a fork until creamy.

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Mix in juice of the lemons, several tablespoons of tahini, an equal amount olive oil, and a pinch of cayenne.  Taste and adjust seasonings to taste.  Chill the dip for an hour or so.

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Before serving, stir in 2-3 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt.

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While you can certainly serve this like any other dip in a bowl, I like to spread it on a platter and top with a generous drizzle of olive oil, toasted pine nuts, and chopped fresh parsley.  Serve with fresh pita bread to dip.  Pair this with tabbouleh and maybe a homemade hummus and you will be a perfectly popular pirate!

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