I'm keeping on the themes of great chilled dishes for summer as well as things I make after roasting all my market eggplants and red bell peppers. Today, it's Baba Ghanoush (or Baba Ghanoush or baba ganoosh.) As it is with terms borrowed from the Arabic, just pick your phonetic equivalent and run with it. Baba Ganoush is a Middle Eastern dip that goes really well with just bread or with vegetable crudités. Is is cooling and very much not like salad, which makes me happy these days.
1 large eggplant
½ tsp salt
1 medium clove garlic, peeled
2-3 tbsp tahini (sesame seed paste, much like runny peanut butter)
1 mint sprig
½ tsp cumin
½ tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Preparing the eggplant: Prick the eggplant with a fork ina a few places. Roast it in a 350F oven for 45 minutes to and hour until completely soft. Let stand until it’s cool enough to touch. Cut the eggplant in half longways (from top to tail), score the flesh into ½ inch squares and scoop into a mesh strainer over a bowl. Add ½ tsp salt, mix and let drain for a couple hours. Music to drain eggplant by: The soft, slow, contemplative sounds of Dhafer Youssef. This is perfect for the calm stillness that torrid hot afternoons impose on us.
Making the dip: Put the garlic and mint leaves into the bowl of a small food processor. Process them until they are in small pieces. Add the drained eggplant, the tahini, the cumin and oprional cayenne pepper. Process until you have a smooth paste. While processor is on, drizzle the olive oil in. Taste and correct for seasoning. Chill and serve with flatbread and raw veggies. This dish is great as part of a cool Eastern Mediterranean mezze dinner.