A last-minute appetizer for my Simply Delicious International Grill class at Pacific Culinary Studio turned out to be a big hit! Since it was off the cuff and not in the recipe packet, I promised to post it online… soon as I got some sleep. And here you go! Thanks to everyone who came this Friday, I hope to see you all again soon.
Basic Baba Ganouj
Yield: about 1-2/3 to 2 cups
- 2 medium Japanese eggplants or 7-8 baby eggplants, sliced lengthwise
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1-2 teaspoons canola, grape seed or other high-heat oil
- 2 tablespoons or more MaraNatha raw tahini
- 2-3 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2-3 cloves of garlic, pressed
- 1-2 teaspoons toasted cumin, ground
- Black pepper, if desired
- ¼ cup or so fruity extra-virgin olive oil
Turn the eggplant flesh side up and cut a few “X”s into the flesh, taking care not to cut through to the skin. Sprinkle salt over the flesh and let the eggplants rest for a few minutes. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 425 F. If you are grilling, you can also do this over your grill after the coals have ashed over or over medium heat on a gas grill).
Place a piece of foil down on a baking sheet. (If using a grill you don’t need a baking sheet, but a perforated grilling pan is a good idea to keep the eggplants from rolling all over the place.) Place the eggplants on the foil, drizzle with oil and rub them well. Put them in the oven and roast them until the surface of the flesh is dark brown, about 15-20 minutes. If you’re grilling, this will be about 7-12 minutes.
Once the dark color has developed, put a pair of heatproof oven gloves on and gently wrap the foil together to form a pouch. It doesn’t have to seal perfectly; the idea is to trap the steam from the eggplants so they will soften. Turn the heat down to 350 F or move the pouch to a cooler part on the grill. If you are using a gas grill you can turn off one side and move the pouch to the side that is cooling down.
Gently remove pouch with a set of tongs and take a peek at your eggplants; they should be roasted and very soft. If they aren’t you can rewrap pop it back over the heat for a while.
When they are ready, remove to a plate and let them cool until you can easily touch them with your fingers, about 20 minutes.
Often, you will get some liquid seepage from the roasting process. You can drain off the liquid by just tipping the pouch into the sink or over the plate and letting it drip off. This liquid is a bit bitter and I prefer to remove it, but not everyone agrees with me.
Once you’re able to handle them, scoop the flesh away from the skin and put the flesh in the bowl of a food processor or blender. Add all other ingredients but the olive oil. Puree until well blended, scraping down the sides if necessary. With the motor running, add the olive oil in a smooth stream, pausing to taste it a few times. Some folks like their baba really olive-oily, some don’t: stop where you like it and add more if you want.
Spoon the baba ganouj into a serving bowl and sprinkle with chopped parsley, sumac, black pepper or a drizzle of olive oil. Eat immediately with pita bread.