Baba Ghanoush

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!”

You sexy thing!

You sexy thing!

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.

Baba Ghanoush

Baba Ghanoush

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!

Baba Ghanoush

1 large eggplant

TBS EVOO

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!