Forget the Tahini!
I spent most of the summer trying to avoid making anything too ordinary with the farm’s produce. I thought about posting a baba ghanouj (guh-NOOSH) recipe more than once. But it just didn’t seem to have enough “ump” to it, ya know? That was until I had two pounds of eggplant leftover from the Headhouse Market last week and an urge for some good “baba”. When I got home, I went to the cupboard, all revved up to get the process going, only to find the tahini jar crusty and unyielding. Suddenly, a baba ghanouj recipe without tahini became quite interesting indeed and worthy of a post.
Fortunately I have an abundance of middle eastern cookbooks, my favorite of which yielded this excellent recipe that makes baba ghanouj ridiculously easy and only uses standard pantry stuffs. Where have you been all my life, tahini-less baba?!?
And the tasting panel (an impromptu dinner party of farm “staff”) greatly approved as well. The variety of the eggplant, or even its condition as some of what I used wasn’t in peak form, doesn’t matter terribly. What does matter to the successful outcome of this version of baba is the use of both fresh lemon juice and garlic. When it’s all blended together, this is one of the creamiest baba’s I’ve ever had. And it felt so good to give that ol’ tahini jar a toss since I only kept it around for the baba. After all, I need the extra self space for the preserves I’m making from local produce.
Adapted from Madhur Jaffrey’s World Vegetarian
1 1/2 pounds of eggplant
3 T. extra virgin olive oil
1 T. fresh lemon juice
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 t. coarse sea salt
Preheat oven to 400 F. Wash and dry eggplant before pricking several times all over with a sharp knife. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray lightly with nonstick spray. Lay eggplants in a single layer on the sheet and place in oven to roast for about 45 minutes or until eggplants are soft to the touch and look deflated.
Allow roasted eggplants to cool completely. You can even roast them the day before and store them in plastic wrap at room temperature until ready to use. Cut off the stems and slice lengthwise. Using a spoon, scrap out all the flesh and place it in a blender or food processor. Repeat with all the eggplants.
To the eggplant flesh in the blender, add the oil, lemon juice, garlic and salt. Blend on high until smooth and creamy. Serve at room temperature or chilled with wedges of pita bread. Also good as a spread for sandwiches.
(makes 1 cup)