Friday, July 26, 2013

Baba ghanouj that's always a hit

Since most of you have been putting your grills to good use in this splendid summer season, why not try a little hors d'oeuvre that's perfect for a party, AND appeals to even the most carniverous of guests?

This baba ghanouj is smoky, creamy, and addictive. It's easy to make, and it makes awesome leftovers. 

You'll need:
  • 2 large (one pound each) eggplants (ensure they're firm, without dents)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil or more 
  • 1/4 cup tahini (sesame seed paste)
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 3/4 tsp. zatar plus more for sprinkling at the end 
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika 
  • 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • Salt and pepper to taste
 
Preheat the grill, then turn to low heat. 

Cut eggplant in half lengthwise, and give the halves a nice coat of olive oil on both sides. 

Grill the eggplant first on the cut side, then flip to the skin side - it will take about 20-25 minutes total. It's ok if the outside burns - the important part is for the inside to cook through. 

Remove from grill and place on a cookie sheet to gradually come to room temperature (it will finish cooking). Don't rush this step. Scoop out the delicious insides of the eggplant and put it in the bowl of a food processor. You'll see some liquid coming off the eggplant - include this as it's important for consistency and flavor.

Add the tahini, lemon juice, garlic, zatar, cumin, paprika and cayenne. Whiz for a bit, adding the olive oil gradually until it's a creamy consistency. It shouldn't be stiff - if it is, you can add a couple tablespoons of cold water. Taste, then adjust seasoning and add salt and pepper. Blend a final time. If possible, let it sit in the fridge in a sealed container for a few hours, or even overnight.

Serve in a bowl (drizzle the top with olive oil and sprinkled with zatar and paprika) alongside pita wedges, carrots, peppers and cucumber. Hint: use a small-ish bowl and put out a small batch at a time so it stays super-fresh. 

Leftovers? Take a half round of pita, add a few tablespoons of baba ghanouj, then pile in cucumbers, peppers and sprouts. It's an amazing sandwich! 



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