Thursday, June 25, 2009
In addition to serving my Father’s Day guests the pineapple monster pictured below, I made a quasi Mediterranean themed lunch, and one of the things I made was Baba Ghanoush. I love eggplant and generally prefer this delicious eggplant dip to hummus, its more popular chickpea counterpart. The market near my house sells a great version of it from a local company, so I had never felt a great urge to make it myself. However, I saw an easy (and yummy) looking recipe in Cook’s Illustrated's Summer Entertaining issue and decided it would be fun to try making it. I’m glad I did: this was a very tasty dip and everyone seemed to like it. It has very minimal seasoning, so the smoky eggplant flavor really stands out, as opposed to being trounced by garlic and tahini (not that I don’t like those flavors – a lot, actually – but I’ve tried a lot of versions where they overpower the star of the dip). This recipe gets a 7 for Deliciousness (I am not in total agreement with the superlative title of the recipe) and a 2 for Effort, giving it an EDR of 3.5.
The Best Baba Ghanoush, from Cook’s Illustrated’s Summer Entertaining edition
2 pounds eggplant (about 2 large globe eggplants, 5 medium Italian eggplants, or 12 medium Japanese eggplants), each poked uniformly over entire surface with fork to prevent bursting
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 small garlic clove, minced or pressed through garlic press (about ½ teaspoon)
2 tablespoons tahini paste
Table salt and ground black pepper
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
Turn all burners on gas grill to high, close lid, and heat grill until hot, approximately 10 to 15 minutes. Set eggplants atop foil on grill rack. Grill until skins darken and wrinkle and eggplants are uniformly soft when pressed with tongs. This should take approximately 25 minutes for large eggplants or 15 to 20 for the smaller varieties. (Note: My large globe eggplants took at least 35 because we didn’t properly heat the grill.) Place eggplants on a plate or rimmed baking sheet and cool for five minutes.
Set small colander over bowl or in sink. Trim the top and bottom off each eggplant. Slit eggplants lengthwise; scoop out the hot pulp with a large spoon and place in colander (you should have 2 cups of pulp). Discard skin and let pulp drain for 3 minutes.
Transfer pulp to bowl of food processor fitted with steel blade. Add lemon juice, garlic, tahini, ¼ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper; process until mixture has coarse, choppy texture, about 8 1-second pulses. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper; transfer to serving bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 45 to 60 minutes. Alternatively, you can place the pulp and all the other ingredients (including a tablespoon olive oil and most of the parsley) in a medium bowl and mash with a pastry blender. (I didn’t feel like dragging out my food processor. It may not be as smooth and creamy as intended, but the flavor was still great.)
To serve, use spoon to make trough in center of and spoon olive oil into it; sprinkle with parsley. Serve with pita bread, pita chips, or vegetables.