Friday, April 29, 2011

Baba Ghanoush as Comfort Food

It's Friday, and I'm meeting my wife at the gym later--Friday is the best day for this, because most people are blowing it off, so we have the place pretty much to ourselves. We usually get home around 8:00 PM on gym nights, so it's good to have some food made in advance. Tonight I'm assembling "Sweet-Sour-Hot-Pungent Lettuce and Tofu," a dish from Speed Vegan that I'll be presenting at Summerfest in July (a test, to see how many tasting portions it will yield).

However, Friday is also, well, Friday, meaning at least one comfort food is in order. Not so much for me--I'm self-employed, so every day is pretty much the same--but for my wife, who deserves all the comfort I can offer. So when we walk in tonight, I want to have one of her favorite easy-noshing comfort dishes ready to eat--while I busy myself with the other menu item.

I had picked up a couple of smallish, perfectly ripe eggplants yesterday, so the choice was obvious: baba ghanoush (mmmm...).

We recently decided to go gluten-free to see if we notice any benefits (and we did!), which means the traditional pita bread for dipping is no longer an option. Instead, I prepped a pile of celery sticks to go with this fabulously flavorful, rich and sensual Lebanese treat.

I say Lebanese because I first learned how to make it from a Lebanese friend, although baba ghanoush appears in the cuisine of other Arab countries also (so I hope none of my Arab friends from these other places will take offense).

This is a very easy dish to make. The hardest part is grilling the eggplants, and if you don't have a grill available, I have a sneaky way around that: just put them directly on the stove--if you have a gas stove, that is. Once that step is done, the rest is a breeze. Here's the recipe, taken from my first book, Omega 3 Cuisine:

Baba Ghanoush
Makes about 4 cups

2 large eggplants
1 cup chopped fresh parsley
1⁄4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1 teaspoon sea salt
11⁄2 cups tahini
1⁄2 cup Udo’s Oil
Extra-virgin olive oil
Kalamata olives
Parsley leaves

Grill the whole eggplants, turning them occasionally so all
sides are evenly cooked, for 15 to 20 minutes, or until they
are tender to the touch. Let cool. Slit open the eggplants,
scoop out the flesh (and discard the skins), and place in a
food processor along with the lemon juice, garlic, chopped
parsley, and salt. Process until well blended. With the motor
running, add the tahini, a spoonful at a time, followed by the
Udo’s Oil. Process until smooth. The mixture will be a light
beige color with a beautiful greenish tint from the little flecks
of parsley.

Spread in a shallow dish, making a shallow, circular
trough in the surface with the back of a spoon. Pour olive oil
into the trough and decorate the dish with the olives and
parsley leaves. (Just like the picture.)

Note: If you don't have any Udo's Oil, don't let that stop you! Just substitute with olive oil (that's the authentic oil to use anyway--I just include Udo's Oil because I want the omega-3s).

Baba Ganoush on Foodista


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