Introduction: Quick and Easy Baba Ghanoush
Here is how I make Baba Ghanoush (baba ganush, baba ghannouj or baba ghannoug), that delightful middle-eastern and mediterranean mezze item that is essentially a cooked eggplant spread. In it's simplest form it contains eggplant, tahini, lemon juice, garlic and olive oil. After that, variations abound and here is how I make it.
The hardest part is the prep of the eggplant. Traditionally, the eggplant is roasted over a wood fire until it is baked through and the skin has charred. After it cools, the soft insides are scraped out and it is mashed with the other ingredients using a ghanuj, or pestle. Baba in Arabic means father and Baba Ghanoush is just "father of pestle." See Wiki for more historic details.
Anyway, we live in an age where a kitchen has modern conveniences and we tend to be in a hurry. So, I use a gas stove, microwave and food processor to produce a Baba that any Caliph would smack his lips over--in a fraction of the time!
Step 1: Roast and Cook the Eggplant
Roast your eggplant. I use a burner on the stove and a chef's torch (the thing you use to get the browned crust on a crème brûlée). I use a kitchen tong to handle the eggplant with.
Get a good char on the skin, but don't worry about cooking the eggplant through.
After you get a good char, put the eggplant in the microwave and cook it for 1-2 minutes. You will know it is done when it collapses (see photo).
Step 2: Squeeze Out All the Eggplant Goodness!
Now the fun part. You may want to let the eggplant cool a bit, but I never do, I just work it hot. Like those warnings on heated, filled pies: FILLING WILL BE HOT!
Wrap the eggplant in a piece of Glad "Press'nSeal" film. It is important to use this particular wrap since it has a glue on one side. This glue will adhere to the charred skin of the eggplant and allow you to squeeze out the insides.
After the eggplant is wrapped tightly, cut off the stalk end and squeeze the insides out into your food processor.
Add your other ingredients (I suggest tahini, garlic, fresh lemon juice, olive oil, sea salt and fresh ground black pepper) and then process until smooth and at the consistency that you desire.
If you like a chunky baba ghanoush, leave out the food processor and just mix everything in a bowl with a fork, or go traditional and use a mortar and pestle!
Step 3: Enjoy!
As shown here, serve with some hummus, greek salad, lamb kebobs, mini-pitas and a nice, crisp (Sav Blanc is great!) white wine.
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