Baba Ghanoush!

It's eggplant week here in the old homestead, so it was a no-brainer that the first eggplant recipe I'd want to share with you, dear readers, is for my favorite Arabic dish: baba ghanoush.

Baba ghanoush (or ghannouj) is a dip or spread made from roasted eggplant and tahini (sesame paste). It's rich, smoky, creamy, and works as a fantastic side dish paired with pita. I also like to serve it with large carrots and zucchini that have been cut on the bias to create "chips" used for dipping. In Egypt, you might find baba ghanoush served with diced onions and tomatoes as a salad. It can also be used as a topping for other dishes - let the imagination run wild.

This is a great dish for folks who think they don't like eggplant but love hummus and other Middle Eastern/meditteranean foods. It's also a great way to sneak some veggies past an unsuspecting picky kid!

Baba Ghanoush

1 lb eggplant (1 medium globe eggplant or about 4 small Italian eggplant)
Olive oil for drizzling
Coarse sea salt
3 cloves garlic
1 Tbsp tahini
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp ground cumin
Handful of cilantro, chopped (can be omitted if you're not a fan)
1/4 cup olive oil

Cut eggplant in half lengthwise, from stem to end. On the cut side, use your knife to score the "meat" diagonally every 1 inch or so, and then score it the other way to create diamond shapes. You'll want to score it deeply, almost down to the skin, like this:


Drizzle cut side with olive oil and sprinkle liberally with sea salt. Salt is important here, as it helps draw out the moisture in the eggplant so that it does not turn to mush! Let the eggplant chill out while the oven preheats to 400°F.

Place eggplant cut side down on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Roast in the oven, cut side down, for about an hour or until the eggplant starts to collapse and the bottoms turn a dark caramel color. Remove from the oven and allow to cool considerably before attempting to handle.


When the eggplant is cool, the skin should fall right off. Scoop the insides into a food processor, discarding the stem and skin. Add garlic, tahini, lemon juice, cumin and cilantro and puree until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Add 1/4 cup olive oil and pulse to combine.

Baba ghanoush can be served immediately, or refrigerated for several days.

Pita Chips

4 pita shells, cut into 8 wedges
Olive oil spray
salt
pepper
paprika

Preheat oven to 375°F and spray your baking sheet with olive oil. Lay out pita wedges in a single layer and spray liberally with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and paprika. Bake for 12-15 minutes, depending on how crispy you like them. Serve warm chips with ice cold baba ghanoush!

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