BABA GANOUSH

IF YOU LOVE MIDDLE EASTERN FOOD AS I DO, YOU'VE ENCOUNTERED THIS DISH IN TURKISH, LEBANESE, ARMENIAN, ISRAELI,  AND GREEK RESTAURANTS.  ESSENTIALLY, BABA GANOUSH IS AN EGGPLANT PURÉE, WHICH VARIES IN TASTE AND TEXTURE FROM COUNTRY TO COUNTRY.  I'VE TRIED MANY VERSIONS OF THIS DISH, BUT MY FAVORITE, AND THE SIMPLEST, IS FROM MARK PEEL AND NANCY SILVERTON AT HOME.   THE EGGPLANTS ARE GRILLED IN A CAST IRON PAN TILL THEY COLLAPSE.  THE SKIN CHARS LENDING THE EGGPLANT A SMOKEY FLAVOR.  ONCE THEY COOL IT'S QUITE EASY TO SEPARATE THE BLACKENED SKIN FROM THE GREY-GREEN PULP BENEATH.  I PREFER SMALLER EGGPLANTS BECAUSE THE SEEDS ARE SMALLER AND MORE TENDER.  CHOPPED GARLIC, LEMON JUICE, FRESH MINT, PARSLEY AND BASIL  IS ALL YOU NEED TO FINISH THIS PERFECT WARM WEATHER DISH.  I SOMETIMES SERVE BABA GANOUSH WITH ROASTED RED PEPPERS AND A SALAD OF PERSIAN CUCUMBERS IN A YOGURT DRESSING, EARNING ME THE LOVE AND RESPECT OF ALL MY VEGETARIAN FRIENDS.  OR IF YOUR DINNER GUESTS INCLUDE CARNIVORES, NOTHING GOES BETTER WITH THESE SIDE DISHES THAN A BUTTERFLIED LEG OF LAMB COOKED ON A GRILL.

 3 MEDIUM EGGPLANTS
 1 LEMON
 4 GARLIC CLOVES
 FRESH MINT, PARSLEY AND BASIL
 A GOOD, FRUITY OLIVE OIL

1

HEAT A LARGE CAST IRON PAN ON TOP OF THE STOVE.

PLACE THE EGGPLANTS IN THE PAN. GRILL OVER HIGH HEAT FOR ABOUT 20 MINUTES TURNING THE EGGPLANTS AS EACH SIDE COLLAPSES UNTIL THEY ARE THOROUGHLY CHARRED ON EVERY SIDE.

REMOVE FROM THE PAN AND ALLOW TO COOL.

MEANWHILE, PUT A GENEROUS PINCH OF SEA SALT AND FRESH GROUND BLACK PEPPER IN THE BOTTON OF YOUR SERVING BOWL. PEEL AND CHOP GARLIC AND ADD TO THE BOWL. WHISK IN THE JUICE OF ONE LEMON. ALLOW TO SIT FOR A FEW MINUTES BEFORE BEATING IN ABOUT 1/3 TO 1/2 CUP OF OLIVE OIL.

WHEN THE EGGPLANTS ARE COOL ENOUGH, PEEL OFF THE BLACKENED SKIN. (IF YOU CAN'T REMOVE EVERY SCRAP OF SKIN, IT'S NO BIG DEAL. A FEW FLECKS WILL ONLY ENHANCE THE SMOKEY TASTE.)

ROUGHLY CHOP THE EGGPLANT AND ADD TO THE BOWL, MASHING IT WITH A FORK AND THOROUGHLY INCORPORATING THE DRESSING. TASTE FOR SEASONING, ADDING MORE LEMON JUICE OR OLIVE OIL IF NEEDED.

ALLOW THE BABA GANOUSH TO SIT FOR AT LEAST 30 MINUTES BEFORE SERVING.

JUST BEFORE SERVING, CHOP THE HERBS. MIX HALF INTO THE EGGPLANT AND SCATTER THE REST ON TOP.

SERVES 4-6 AS A SIDE DISH.

Ingredients

 3 MEDIUM EGGPLANTS
 1 LEMON
 4 GARLIC CLOVES
 FRESH MINT, PARSLEY AND BASIL
 A GOOD, FRUITY OLIVE OIL

Directions

1

HEAT A LARGE CAST IRON PAN ON TOP OF THE STOVE.

PLACE THE EGGPLANTS IN THE PAN. GRILL OVER HIGH HEAT FOR ABOUT 20 MINUTES TURNING THE EGGPLANTS AS EACH SIDE COLLAPSES UNTIL THEY ARE THOROUGHLY CHARRED ON EVERY SIDE.

REMOVE FROM THE PAN AND ALLOW TO COOL.

MEANWHILE, PUT A GENEROUS PINCH OF SEA SALT AND FRESH GROUND BLACK PEPPER IN THE BOTTON OF YOUR SERVING BOWL. PEEL AND CHOP GARLIC AND ADD TO THE BOWL. WHISK IN THE JUICE OF ONE LEMON. ALLOW TO SIT FOR A FEW MINUTES BEFORE BEATING IN ABOUT 1/3 TO 1/2 CUP OF OLIVE OIL.

WHEN THE EGGPLANTS ARE COOL ENOUGH, PEEL OFF THE BLACKENED SKIN. (IF YOU CAN'T REMOVE EVERY SCRAP OF SKIN, IT'S NO BIG DEAL. A FEW FLECKS WILL ONLY ENHANCE THE SMOKEY TASTE.)

ROUGHLY CHOP THE EGGPLANT AND ADD TO THE BOWL, MASHING IT WITH A FORK AND THOROUGHLY INCORPORATING THE DRESSING. TASTE FOR SEASONING, ADDING MORE LEMON JUICE OR OLIVE OIL IF NEEDED.

ALLOW THE BABA GANOUSH TO SIT FOR AT LEAST 30 MINUTES BEFORE SERVING.

JUST BEFORE SERVING, CHOP THE HERBS. MIX HALF INTO THE EGGPLANT AND SCATTER THE REST ON TOP.

SERVES 4-6 AS A SIDE DISH.

BABA GANOUSH
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