Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Mamma Ghanouj

Henry and sister Gillian feed the monkey.  Success!
This is a real crowd-pleaser, and believe me, I've NEVER made a crowd-pleaser before.  Yes, it's true, the bar is set wicked low when I bring a dish somewhere, but my husband is brutally honest, so I know this one is good.  (And I like to think the bar is getting higher and higher.)
I bought some eggplant from the farmers market, just 'cause they were so purdy, not knowing what the hell I was going to make with them, so I went looking around on the internet.  Epicurious.com had a nice, easy Baba Ghanouj recipe, but I modified it to my liking.  Generally, the first time I make something, I'm a little stressed, never completely confident that I won't end up with an overly seasoned pile of crap, or worse, a tasteless pile of crap, but this was a very pleasant surprise, a recipe I've repeated many times since.
I get two eggplants about the same size, (the bigger ones), so they roast in the same amount of time.  Preheat oven at 375 degrees, generously oil a baking sheet, cut the eggplants into halves, and place them cut side down on the sheet.  I salt them, though I'm not sure why, I think someone told me to and I do what I'm told in the kitchen!  Roast them until they're soft to the touch, the big ones for about an hour, but I check on them at 45 minutes, because I'm paranoid, a common theme you'll recognize in my cooking...  Take them out and let them cool, depending on my schedule I leave them out from 15 minutes to an hour, I don't think it really matters.  Then you scoop out the eggplant, or pull off the skins, and place the pulp in a strainer over a bowl for 30 minutes, letting some of the liquid drain out.  This all may seem a bit time-consuming, but the workload is actually minimal, as you can walk away from most of these steps--have a nap, read a book, watch Real Housewives of Botox.
Before the oven
Ready to eat!
Irma Thomas
Transfer the pulp into a blender or food processor, I use a blender because I like it smooth.  You heard me, I like it smoooooooth, like Irma Thomas smooth, (download her!)  Add a 1/4 cup of olive oil, a 1/4 cup of sesame seed paste or tahini, a peeled clove or two of garlic, (depending on your taste for garlic.  One clove is surprisingly strong, so I usually taste it after one clove, then add another one; note aforementioned paranoia.)  I squeeze about five small, organic lemons into the mix.  I LOVE lemon, I think the recipe calls for 3 tablespoons, which I think is waaaaaay too little and just plain stupid.  Add salt, pepper, paprika if you like, and I'm sure other spices, like cumin are great, then blend it all up.  You can blend it a little so you have some chunks, or until it's smooth.  The feedback I've gotten is that people can be a little skeeved out by the texture of chunky eggplant, but gobble it up once it's pureed smoothly.  Cover it and chill, this can certainly be made a day earlier.  I keep this on hand in the fridge a lot, it's always nice to have when people stop by, serve with some chips, pita wedges, carrots or other veggies.  OH, and when you serve it, drizzle a little olive oil on top, with a sprinkle of paprika, looks nice, makes it look fancy.  Let me know how it goes!


  1. Hi Leslie, I like your blog. I tasted your baba ghanouj before and it was delicious! You know, I feel the same way about lemon. To me the more the better and I just put it into almost everything.
    You have one very lucky family enjoying all this deliciousness!
    See you soon,