Thursday, 18 December 2014

Baba Ghanoush

     As a vegan people are ALWAYS asking me what exactly I eat. And of course, whenever they ask me I always say the most boring things....pasta (although, I seriously eat a lot of pasta)...pizza....vegetables....and then, as I fail at saying anything inspiring, I might just refer them over to my blog. And then normally I get a response something along the lines of "Oh my gosh! that's vegan?! but it looks so tasty!" At this I usually laugh. Why would I eat something that doesn't taste good? Anyhoo, a couple weeks ago, I was at dinner at my friends' house and they asked what my favourite dip was. My answer: Baba ghanoush.


     Baba ghanoush, as it is most commonly known in the Americas, or mutabbal, is a deliciously rich and creamy dip made of roasted eggplant and garlic, tahini, lemon juice, olive oil, cumin and salt. This dip is usually served as an appetizer with pita bread or chips.


     I made some the other night for dinner, and ate about half the batch. I felt guilty for about one second and then remembered that it's pretty much all eggplant.
Might seem like a difficult dip to make, but most of the time you aren't active. So give it a try, I'm sure you'll love it!


Serves: 6-12 (appetizer servings)

Ingredients

  • 2 medium eggplants (about 3 pounds)
  • 1 head of garlic (trust me, it's not too much)
  • 1/3 cup tahini (sesame seed paste)
  • 2 lemons, juiced or 5 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil + more for garnish
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • Scant 1/2 tsp table salt, or to taste
  • Paprika (original or smoked), to garnish, about 1/4 tsp
  • Chopped parsley, to garnish


Preparation

  1. As your oven is preheating to 450°F (broiler), cut your eggplants in half lengthwise, sprinkle generously with salt, and let them sit for 20 to 30 minutes. This will reduce the natural bitterness of the eggplant, and although it is not necessary, sometimes you can get a particularly bitter fruit, especially off season, so I find it best to cover all my bases. 
  2. After about 25 minutes, you should see water droplets on the surface of your eggplant. Wipe the water off with a pepper towel, and place the eggplant face down on a baking sheet. Place your whole head of garlic next to the eggplant, and bake for 15-30 minutes under the broiler.
  3. When the eggplant is ready you should see the flesh pulling away from the skin (it will look wrinkly), and possibly some charring on the skin. The flesh should be soft and caramelized. If it looks light-coloured, pop it back in the oven. As for the garlic,when the oven smells garlicky, and the head of garlic collapses slightly when squeezed with tongues, it's ready to be taken out of the oven. 
  4. Place your eggplants in a bowl, and let sit for about 10 minutes or until they are cool enough to handle. A dark liquid will collect at the bottom, taste it, if it is bitter, you may want to remove some of it so that your baba ghanoush is not bitter (although, I have never had this problem).
  5. Deflesh you eggplants. My favourite tool for this job is a grapefruit spoon (yes, it has more than one use!), but a fork also works. Just hold your eggplant from the top and scrape the flesh down into the bowl. 
  6. Now squeeze the garlic cloves out of their casings and toss into the bowl of eggplant. 
  7. To your bowl of eggplant and garlic, add the tahini, lemon juice, olive oil, cumin and salt.
  8. Purée with an immersion blender until smooth (or transfer to a food processor). 
  9. Let cool in the fridge for at least 10 minutes before garnishing. Garnish with a generous sprinkle of paprika (I particularly like smoked paprika in this dip), a drizzle of olive oil (the good stuff) and a bit of parsley (optional).
  10. Serve with pita bread, falafel, dippers or your favourite crackers.

Enjoy friends!