By Chef Linda
Baba Ganoush is a traditional middle eastern dish made from charred or roasted eggplants. It’s eaten as an appetizer generally, but I find that a day or so later, it’s a wonderful sandwich spread or topping for a midday piece of toast. The garlic – and common courtesy – prevent me from eating this savory spread on my morning toast; Waiting till afternoon seems more civilized, but I leave it to you as to when you choose to devour this flavorful, ethnic dip. Baba Ganoush, is made with only a few simple ingredients. It starts with charred or fire roasted eggplant that yields a wonderfully smokey taste. The soft pulp is scooped out and blended with tahini, spices, garlic, lemon, and olive oil. While similar to hummus, in appearance, its taste is more complex, and its texture is lighter and more delicate. Baba Ganoush is a welcome addition to any party; serve it with warm pita bread and fresh vegetables like carrots, bell peppers, and cucumbers. Use what's left as a sandwich spread and pile it high with creamy avocados and crisp sprouts.
Eggplants provide more than substance and taste; they deliver important health benefits. Compounds in eggplants have been shown to reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease. Eggplant also contains many vitamins, but its dominant vitamins are vitamin C, folate, B vitamins, and vitamin A. These vitamins boost the immune system, and help protect against a variety of diseases. Eat your eggplant and you'll also get a healthy dose of minerals such as phosphorous, calcium, magnesium, and potassium which help prevent arthritis and osteoporosis. Looking to feel full without overeating? Eggplant is a great source of dietary fiber which keeps your stomach feeling full and in addition, protects against colon cancer by keeping the digestive system working properly.
3 medium eggplants (about 2 pounds)
5 tablespoons tahini paste (ground sesame paste)
1 teaspoon salt
2 to 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon white vinegar
Pinch of cumin
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley or cilantro, for garnish
Place eggplants on a baking sheet lined with parchment and roast at 425ºF for 25 to 30 minutes, until completely soft and skins are charred. The eggplant will look “deflated” when it’s ready. Remove from oven and let cool.
Split the eggplant and scrape out the pulp, discarding as much of the seeds as possible. Place the remaining flesh in a strainer or colander for about 10 minutes to remove any excess water, then empty into the bowl of a food processor. Puree with the remaining ingredients until smooth.
Taste, and season with additional salt and lemon juice, if necessary. To serve, pour into a bowl, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with a dash of smoked paprika, if you choose. Warm pita bread triangles make a perfect accompaniment.