baba ghanouj (garlicky eggplant dip)
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This recipe is based on one in Annie Somerville’s Fields of Greens, and I love it. Dip pita bread in it, or spread it on toast. Scoop it up with chips, or with celery… It’s so yummy! If you don’t happen to have cilantro, it’s fine to leave it out.
Two notes about the tahini. 1) If you can’t find roasted tahini, just use the regular kind. And 2) Smell the tahini, and taste it once you’ve gotten it all mixed up and creamy (the oil separates out when it’s sitting on the shelf in the store. If it smells yummy and nutty, and tastes creamy and rich and good, use it. If it smells bitter and rancid, take it back to the store and exchange it for a jar with a newer expiration date. I’ve had some trouble recently with getting good tahini—so make sure yours is good before you use it. In fact, I’ve had so much trouble lately that I’ve just used peanut butter instead of tahini! The natural, unsweetened kind of peanut butter, of course. Maybe I even lik it better than tahini!
2 globe eggplants, about 2 pounds
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons roasted tahini (sesame paste) or natural peanut butter (creamy or crunchy)
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ teaspoon cumin seed, toasted in a skillet and ground
Juice of 1 lemon
½ to 1 teaspoon salt
Pinch cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro (OK to omit)
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cut the eggplant in half lengthwise and brush the cut sides lightly with olive oil. Place on a baking sheet, cut side down, and roast until very tender, about 35 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes, then scoop the flesh out of the skin, or peel the skin off the outside—whichever is easiest.
2. Meanwhile, combine the tahini or peanut butter, cumin, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, salt, and a pinch of cayenne in a large bowl and whisk until smooth.
2. Chop the eggplant with a big knife until in small chunks, then add it to the bowl. Whisk everything together until it is fairly smooth, but retains some lumps.
3. Allow the baba ghanouj to sit for 30 minutes or an hour at room temperature, then season to taste, if needed, with additional lemon juice, salt, and cayenne. Toss in the cilantro and serve on toast.
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