My weekly trip to the local farmers market always brings fresh inspiration to the table.
Planning menus around each season insures you will be feasting on flavorful produce that is harvested at the peak of perfection and recipe ready. Though I come to market already armed with a shopping list, and an idea of what I want to make, there is always room to deviate when something special or unexpected catches my eye.
One vendor’s bin of beautiful baby eggplant proved irresistible last Sunday. This small, egg-shaped Indian variety look like mini versions of their large classic cousin with smooth, almost black-purple skin and a green calyx on top. I instantly had a craving for Baba Ganoush.
If you’ve never tried this simple Middle Eastern roasted eggplant dip you’re missing out on one of life’s great pleasures. I start by blistering the outer skin of the eggplant under the broiler in my oven until the smoky essence fills the kitchen. (*Alternately, you can grill the eggplant or hold them over a gas flame with tongs).
Charring the skins slightly gives the finished dip wonderful, intense layers of flavor. The cooking process continues by slow roasting the globes until they are very soft. Then I roughly chop and mash them before adding the remaining ingredients.
Some people prefer to purée this dip, but I opt for a more rustic version that has texture and bits of eggplant. Either tastes delicious and is simply a matter of personal preference. I highly recommend making this dip a day ahead of when you plan to serve to allow the flavors to develop and meld together.
Baba Ganoush is delicious served as an appetizer course with assorted fresh, raw veggies and whole grain pita chips or smeared generously on warm naan flatbread for a satisfying light lunch bite. I have also pair it with roasted red peppers and goat cheese on toasted, thick-cut sourdough levain crostini.
How will you enjoy this versatile dip?
RUSTIC SMOKY BABA GANOUSH (serves 6-8)
Prep: 15 minutes + 30 minutes roast time
- 2 pounds eggplant
- 1/4 cup tahini (sesame seed paste)
- 1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 3 large garlic cloves, pressed
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
- ground sea salt to taste
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Rinse eggplants and pat dry. Prick outer skin all around with a fork, and place on a foil-lined baking sheet.
- Broil eggplants on the center oven rack, turning on all sides, until the skins are evenly charred. They will smell smoky.
- Adjust the oven heat from the broil setting to 375 (F) and continue to roast the eggplants for 25-30 minutes. They should be very soft. Remove from the oven and cool until they can be easily handled (about 10 minutes).
- While the eggplants are roasting, combine the remaining ingredients (*except parsley & EVOO) in a medium bowl and mix well.
- Place the cooled eggplants on a cutting board. Remove the stem and roughly chop. Drain any excess liquid, then use a fork to mash the cut eggplant. Scrap into the bowl with the rest of the ingredients. Mix well.
- Stir in parsley and a tablespoon or two of EVOO to your liking.
- Ideally, cover and refrigerate for 24 hours to allow flavors to develop. Take out of refrigerator and bring to room temperature before serving. *You may also serve without the wait time.