Lebanese Eggplant and Tahini Dip
Serves 6 to 8
2 eggplants -about 1 1/2 pounds
3 tablespoons tahini*
juice of 2 lemons
3/4 to 4/5 cup strained yogurt*
2 garlic cloves -crushed, chopped
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons parsley -minced, flat-leaf variety
Prick the eggplants in a few places with a pointed knife to prevent them from exploding. Toss them on a hot barbque, put the lid down, raising it to turn them every few minutes until the skin is charred all over (imparting the distinctive smoky flavor) and they feel very soft when you press them. No bbq? The flame of a gas burner or broiler will do, or place them on a oven pan covered in tin foil, roasting at a max temp oven for 45 to 55 minutes until the skins are wrinkled the flesh is very soft.
As the eggplant cools, prep the remaining ingredients. When cool enough to handle -avoid the temptation to get distracted as the longer the eggplant cools, the harder it will be to press out the juice- peel and drop the eggplant into a strainer or colander with small holes (I use a handy food grade fine mesh bag). Press out as much of the water and juices as possible. Don’t panic when it seems like you are squeezing out too much, taste the juice and you’ll see why you’re letting it go down the drain or into the compost... bitter, so bitter. Chop the flesh, then mash it with a fork or wooden spoon and press out juices again.
Beat the tahini with the lemon juice (the tahini stiffens first then softens), add garlic, olive oil, parsley and some salt, then beat in the yogurt. Add the mashed eggplants and mix vigorously by hand and taste to adjust the flavors. Here Roden calls for dribbling the olive oil and sprinkling the parsley on top before serving... as you just read, we unceremoniously mix it right into the bowl.
Get to eating your baba ghanouj on sprouted grain tortillas, with toasted bagels and poached eggs, in a pita or traditionally with lebanese flat bread... a little ground pepps goes a long way to top off this dish.
also called sesame paste or sesame butter, is made from ground sesame seeds (hulled and unhulled varieties exist). i prefer raw which is often difficult to find and pricier, though richer in flavor and nutrition. multiple companies exist with raw and toasted sesame butters and it is found in the nut butter section of your local market.
also called yogurt cheese, this is simple to make and delicious to eat (and leaves you some whey for soaking grains). use plain, whole milk organic yogurt. seriously- use good yogurt.
work with lemons at room temperature. before juicing roll the lemon back and forth a few times on the edge of a cutting board (pressing firmly your palm), this softens up the fibers and allows more juice to be expressed.