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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Quick and Easy Baba Ganoush

Ok, so the title may be a little misleading. This recipe isn't really quicker or easier than other baba ganoush recipes. But it's not an all-out untruth either, since pretty much all baba ganoush recipes are quick and easy. I just wanted to get you interested (I was in marketing/advertising in a past life...).

All you need to do to make amazing baba ganoush is char and roast the whole eggplants and then puree the softened flesh with a few other staple ingredients. That's it! The only ingredient that may not be in your kitchen - or on your shopping list - right now is tahini paste. Tahini paste is a, well, paste made from ground lightly roasted sesame seeds. Today, tahini paste is available in the international aisle of most grocery stores, or in Middle Eastern markets, of course.
Making baba ganoush is a great way to use up all those eggplants you're finding at the markets now, plus it keeps in the refrigerator for up to a week, so make a lot of it and keep it on hand for snacking or when guests come over. It's great when used as a dip for carrots or homemade pita chips, or it can be used as a spread on a killer veggie sandwich -- think smeared on seedy whole wheat bread with grilled summer squash, tomato and fresh mozzarella -- yum!

Also, to note, when I make baba ganoush, I usually end up making my own pita chips. I just leave the oven on after the eggplants have roasted and throw in the cut up pita bread. I've included the uber-simple recipe for pita chips below the baba ganoush recipe, in case you're interested.
Quick and Easy Baba Ganoush
Be sure to taste along the way. Your two large eggplants are probably not the exact same size as my two large eggplants, so you may need to add a little more or less of some of the ingredients. Start off conservatively -- you can always add more.

2 large eggplants (look for eggplants that are firm and heavy for their size)
1/3 cup tahini paste
3 garlic cloves, minced (use 1 or 2 cloves if you garlic sensitive)
4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
pinch of cayenne pepper
pinch of cumin
salt to taste
handful of chopped parsley leaves for garnish

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Prick the outside of the eggplants. Place directly on top of a gas stove and char, turning occasionally, for about 5 minutes. Place the charred eggplants on a baking sheet and roast in the oven for about 30 minutes, or until they are soft inside. Remove from the oven and let cool.

Split the cooked eggplants open and scoop the flesh into the food processor. Puree with all other ingredients, except for the parsley. Taste and adjust accordingly. If the flavor could be a little brighter, add more lemon juice. If you're not getting enough garlic, add more. Could use a little heat? Add another pinch of cayenne. Just be sure to add only a small amount at a time. The line between lacking and overkill can be very fine -- especially when you're working with spices and raw garlic.

Garnish with fresh chopped parsley.

Fresh Baked Pita Chips

4 whole wheat pitas
4 tablespoons olive oil
salt to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Cut each pita into 8 "slices" (just as you would slice a pizza pie). Gently separate the layers so that you have 16 triangles. Arrange on lined cookie sheets and brush both sides with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and bake for about 8 minutes, or until lightly browned and crispy.

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