Friday, October 9, 2009

Baba Ganoush

As I’ve mentioned before, whipping up some homemade Baba ganoush, or Eggplant Caviar, has been on my to-do list for quite some time. Ever since discovering Zoey Catering's Melitzanosalata at Madison Market -- so creamy with whole roasted cloves of garlic -- I’ve had a one-track mind. Unfortunately, my good intentions haven’t lead to anything other than the discovery of rotten eggplants in the back of my refrigerator. Well no more, my friends!  

I have nothing against hummus but a girl can only eat so much (and it's absolutely ubiquitous!). This dip, on the other hand, has a distinct smoky flavor and a much softer texture. The eggplants do require roasting, which makes it more time-consuming than the dump-and-blend method of hummus, but it’s so worth it. And now that those beautifully purple eggplants are spilling over at the farmers’ markets, there’s really no excuse.

Baba Ganoush
This recipe can be easily adjusted to suite personal taste... a pinch of cumin, perhaps?

2 medium eggplants
2 heads garlic
Olive oil
1/3 cup sesame tahini
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly chopped parsley or mint

Preheat oven to 400°F. Pierce eggplants in several places with the tines of a fork.

If you have a gas stove, char the outside of the eggplants directly over the flame, turning often until evenly blackened. If you don’t have a gas stove, you can char them under the broiler or over a hot grill. If none of the above methods are available, skip this step altogether.

Slice 1/3 to a 1/2-inch off the tops of each garlic head, enough to expose most cloves. Place each head on a square of foil; drizzle each with one or two teaspoons of olive oil. Wrap loosely with foil.

Place garlic packets and eggplants on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Roast in the oven until eggplants are completely soft and have collapsed in on themselves, about 30 minutes. The garlic should be done around the same time (you want it to be completely soft when pressed). Remove from the oven and cool.

Squeeze whole cloves out of garlic heads; set aside.

Slice eggplants lengthwise and scrape out the pulp; place in a food processor. Add tahini, lemon juice, 5 or 6 roasted garlic cloves and salt; process until smooth (or leave a bit chunky if that’s how you like it). Adjust seasoning to taste.

Pour into serving bowl. Add remaining whole garlic cloves and stir to incorporate. Baba ganoush tastes best if it's able to chill for a few hours. Before serving, garnish with a drizzle of olive oil and freshly chopped parsley or mint. Serve with toasted pita chips, olives and feta cheese.

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