I was pretty proud of all the eggplant we grew this summer. The plant and the fruit are so beautiful and add a great contrast to the garden foliage. Eggplant is not everyone’s favorite, but I love it. Particularly when it’s charcoal grilled so it retains a little smoky flavor. This particular cooking technique is perfect for baba ganoush. Baba ganoush is a creamy spread made from roasted or grilled eggplant. The flesh is scooped from the skin and blended with tahini, lemon, extra virgin olive oil, garlic and sometimes yogurt. Served with crisp vegetables and flatbread, it makes the perfect appetizer. We love it spread on falafel, lamb or grilled chicken sandwiches.
Makes approximately 3 cups
- 3 to 4 medium eggplants (I used 2 Italian and 2 Japanese because that’s what I had on hand)
- 3 cloves fresh garlic, minced
- 2 T fresh lemon juice
- 1 tsp fresh lemon zest
- 1/3 C organic tahini
- 1/4 C extra virgin olive oil, plus more for garnish
- 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp toasted, ground cumin
- 3 T organic Italian parsley, chopped
- 1 tsp Spanish smoked paprika
- 1 organic cucumber, sliced
- 1 organic red bell pepper, sliced
- flatbread or seeded crackers
Slice eggplant in half lengthwise. Brush with olive oil. Set your grill to medium high and lay eggplant oil side down. If using Japanese eggplant, they will cook faster because of their narrow shape. Grill for approximately 10-12 minutes, until skin and flesh is soft. For larger eggplant, grill for approximately 20 minutes or until fresh is very soft. Once cooked, remove from heat and set aside until cool enough to handle. When cool, scoop the flesh away from the skin, into a bowl. Discard skin. In a colander or strainer, transfer the flesh and let it drain a bit. You want to get most of the liquid out. Once drained, add eggplant, lemon juice and zest, tahini, garlic, salt and cumin. Mix well. You can use a food processor to make this go a little faster. While mixing, drizzle in the olive oil. Baba ganoush should be very creamy. Taste for salt and if needed, add more lemon juice – about a 1/2 teaspoon at a time. To plate, spread baba ganoush out on a platter, drizzle with more olive oil, garnish with chopped parsley, sprinkle with smoked paprika and surround with cucumber and bell pepper and warm flatbread and/or seeded crackers.