Monday, July 9, 2012

Baba Ganoush (Eggplant & Tahini Dip/Spread)

I see hummus absolutely everywhere these days. My local store has at least 4 brands to choose from and some of those are available in more than ten varieties. But I don't see that much baba ganoush around. Why am I making that leap from hummus to baba ganoush? Because hummus just reminds me of it. They're both Middle Eastern, both dips/spreads and both garlicky - it's not a stretch. I did buy the one brand that was available at my store and it was good. But it had no business calling itself baba ganoush. It said so on the container, but after taking a closer look, I discovered the second ingredient, right after eggplant, was sour cream. Now, I'm not knocking sour cream - that stuff is the bomb. If it wouldn't shave a few years off my life, I'd put a dollop on my cereal each morning. I just don't think any self respecting baba ganoush would be caught dead consorting with it. Oh and there was mayonnaise in there too. I can't believe I almost forgot to mention that. So after I ate the whole container (and practically licked it clean because, well, it was scrumptious, what with all that sour cream and mayonnaise), I decided to repent and make some real baba ganoush. It was fantastic - authentic, fresh and smoky. And if you try it and don't like it, you can always mix in a little sour cream and mayo.

Makes about 3 cups

2 to 3 eggplants (2 ½ lb. total)
1/4 cup well-stirred tahini (sesame paste)
3 garlic cloves, chopped and mashed to a paste with 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt or smoked salt (omit liquid smoke if using smoked salt)
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon liquid smoke, or to taste (optional)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley or cilantro
toasted pita wedges for serving

1.      Preheat grill (or broiler).
2.      Prick each eggplant all over with a fork. Grill eggplants on a rack set 4 inches over glowing coals or flame, turning every 10 minutes, until charred all over and very soft, 20 to 35 minutes. (Or broil on a baking sheet about 6 inches from heat, turning occasionally.) Cool eggplants.
3.      Discard charred skins and tough stem ends and purée eggplants in a blender or food processor with tahini, garlic paste, lemon juice, cumin, salt and liquid smoke (if using) until combined well. Season to taste with more salt.
4.      Transfer to a plate or bowl, then drizzle with oil and sprinkle with parsley or cilantro. Serve with pita wedges.

adapted from Gourmet, September 2000
raw eggplants
(don't forget to prick them all over with a fork or they'll explode)
roasted eggplants

I used my broiler, not the grill.
peeled eggplant in the food processor
raw garlic and salt

It looks like a lot of garlic because each clove
is halved. But I do like mine super garlicky.
garlic paste
squeezing in some lemon juice
everything added
drizzled with extra virgin olive oil
sprinkled with parsley and dipping in a pita chip

I didn't make homemade pita chips this time,
but those are great. I have a recipe for Sesame
Cumin Pita Crisps
if you want to see how
to make them yourself (if you want them plain,
just use olive oil and leave out the cumin).

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