It happens every time I see an eggplant.
Whether it’s at the the grocery store or the Farmer’s Market, I’m always seduced by their dark, beautiful purple skin, their plump waistline and that sassy little hat they wear. My first impulse is always the same: “Buy it!”
Then there’s white eggplants. Even baby eggplants. Aww, so cute!
But when you get them home, then what? A lot of people, most I would argue, believe they don’t like eggplant. But that’s only because they don’t know what to do with one.
You can make ratatouille out of them. But no matter how you make it, French people will always say it’s not authentic. Am I right?!
How about eggplant parmesan? It’s made the same way as chicken parmesan or veal parmesan. That’s delicious, right? Bread just about anything with parmesan cheese, fry it, then cover it in tomato sauce and mozzarella and it’s going to taste great. Baseball cap parmesan would probably sell.
But that doesn’t capture the essence of the eggplant. What should eggplant taste like?
The answer may surprise you: Baba Ghanoush.
Baba Ghanoush (ba-buh guh-NOOSH) is a Middle Eastern appetizer made much the same way as hummus, except with roasted eggplant rather than chickpeas. Usually it is served chilled with pita bread or a Middle Eastern flatbread known as lavash.
It’s most often associated with Lebanese cuisine, but variations also can be found in Turkey, Greece, Egypt, even Pakistan. In Israel, it is sometimes made with mayonnaise.
“Baba” means “father” in Arabic. “Ghanoush” probably means eggplant, but I’m not 100 percent sure on that.
Baba Ghanoush, an excellent vegetarian dish, has a slightly sweet, smoky flavor. Eggplant itself has a neutral, mild flavor, so most of the flavorings come from the roasting and the other ingredients.
In my experience, most people are initially intimidated by Baba Ghanoush because it has a funny name and is too “weird”. Middle Eastern food? Eggplants? No, thanks!
But once they taste it, they will fall in love with the subtle, smooth flavor of Baba Ghanoush.
It’s also a very economical dish because eggplants — which are also known as aubergines and are native to India — are available and inexpensive almost year round. You get a lot for your money because they are nearly 100 percent edible and have a large amount of “meat”. You usually only need one, regardless of what you are making with it.
So bring something exotic to your next gathering. All we are saying is give Baba Ghanoush a chance!
1 large eggplant
1 clove garlic
2 TBS Tahini
Juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
Sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 425F. Rub eggplant with EVOO, place on sheet pan, prick with fork a couple of times and roast until fully softened, about 25 minutes.
When cool, cut in half, scoop pulp into food processer and add tahini, lemon, garlic, parsley, and remaining EVOO. Pulse untl smooth. Season with S&P to taste.
Refrigerate at least 30 minutes so flavors can meld. Mound into bowl, drizzle with a little additional EVO and garnish with parsley sprigs. Serve with pita bread cut into triangles or squares of lavash.
Do you have a recipe that initially intimidates people, but eventually wins them over? Share your ideas in the comments section below. And thanks for looking at my blog!
Wow! I’m gonna’ have to try this one! I’ve been considering making hummus (yes, for real), so this should be a natural. One thing though, I don’t recollect cooking it with the skin on. Typically, we in the South are more familiar with eggplant as a pan fried dish, which may be dredged through an egg wash, lightly coated with a 80/20 white cornmeal/flour mixture in which pepper and salt (or other flavorings) may be added. Then, they’re placed in a lightly oiled iron skillet, and fried until golden brown on both sides.
Howsomever… that’s not “a recipe that initially intimidates people, but wins them over.” From my experience, black olive tapenade is one such recipe. Although it’s an hors d’oeuvre, I’ve found creative ways to serve it, and encourage others to try it.
While I’ve not pounded/ground out the olives, I do finely chop them, to which I add my own blend of herbs de Provence, EVOO, melted butter, sometimes sometimes substituting bacon drippings, and more often than not, omitting the anchovies.
To serve, I place a slice of brie upon a toasted sesame seed cracker, and top it with the BOT.
Talk about a flavor explosion! WOW!
I LOVE olive tapenade! It’s also great on hamburgers. I’m going to try your recipe with these wonderful marinated kalamatas I get at a nearby Greek grocery.
Sometimes when I don’t want to use anchovies either because they are too powerful or I don’t want to buy a whole tin just for one fillet, I just add a dash of Worchestershire Sauce, which has anchovies in it but is not overpowering. I use Woo Sauce a lot as a subtle sub-flavor, along with a few drops of Tabasco or hot sauce.
Thanks for looking at my blog! I hope you like the hummus and the baba ghanoush.
P.S. I used to make baba ghanoush mashed potatoes at this one restaurant, and I would peel a case of eggplants, oil them and roast them on sheet pans. You could definitely peel them before roasting them for this recipe. I just forgot all about that until just now.
I like to say “Baba Ghanoush” but I don’t like eating it. Anything w eggplant – – – – – –