Friday, March 6, 2015

The Mysteries of Eggplant

He was on sale at Sprouts Market last week

Eggplant. How did such a pretty garden vegetable get such a dairy name?

This elongated purple globe reminded me of our friends on Veggie Tales, so before beginning my recipe, I gave him a pair of eyes. Since I positioned him on the cutting board with a couple of knives just beyond what you see here, he was apprehensive about what was to come....

green colander compliments of Sister

... and clearly with good reason. But alas, this is why he was created in the first place, right?

My experience with Eggplant is very limited.  If The Cook on Fifth Street ever prepared it when I was growing up, I don't remember. One of Beloved's aunts made Eggplant Parmigiana for us about 40 years ago and I thought it was pretty good. I had never met anyone who cooked with eggplant, but then, I had never been to Alabama before, either.

Eggplant's companions in the process

What I don't understand about it is that we are supposed to slice it to about 1/4-inch thickness, lay the slices on a colander, sprinkle them with salt and let them set for 10 minutes so the liquid can drain out. (what liquid?

Then if that isn't mystifying enough, we are told to lightly rinse the salt off the eggplant slices and pat them dry with a paper towel.  Does anyone see the incongruities with that besides me?

Oh excuse me. The garlic didn't show up for the line-up earlier so here is his cameo shot.  We need him to complete the complex marriage of flavors for the recipe.

And excuse me again.  I have not told you yet what it is we are preparing with the mysterious eggplant.

Baba Ganoush. 

Beloved and I discussed this over lunch today.  He said the name sounds Russian to him.  I think Middle Eastern.  At any rate, we would soon be finding out if it's any good.

prepared for the oven broiler
As if it wasn't adventure enough, cooking with an eggplant, I was also using my broiler. In the last 20 years, I've used the broiler maybe, oh, 5 times?  If something needs to be broiled then I either don't fix it or Beloved puts it on the grill outside on the deck -- but it kinda needs to be nice weather for that and it's snowing hard here this afternoon.

after the broil
Now maybe you see why I don't use my broiler much. Care has to be taken to not char the food (or the pot holders). Fortunately only a few slices got tossed into the garbage can. But even at that, I wondered if I had enough of the good ones to make the recipe correctly.

everything in the food processor
I mean, look at that. It doesn't look like more than one serving to me. But I've come this far.  We move on...

Baba Ganoush with baby sweet peppers and gluten-free rice crackers;
Bunny dish compliments of The Cook on Fifth Street
In spite of my pessimism, this recipe for Baba Ganoush turned out very well. The flavor even reminded me a little bit of artichoke dip (which I love). 

Beloved (who works from his home office most days, if any of you are wondering why he's here during daylight hours) took a taste test and said it was okay but he wouldn't use it to replace onion dip with potato chips.  Had I not pushed it under his nose  I'm just so glad that he tried it. 

snacking while I blog
This brings me to my last photo. It's time to share the recipe. I liked this a lot. The only reason I stopped eating it when I did is that I ran out of crackers and veggies!

Baba Ganoush 
Recipe adapted from

1 medium eggplant
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 lemon, juiced (or 2 Tablespoons from a bottle)
2 Tablespoons Tahini (this is sesame butter)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
sea salt
Basil (fresh or dried)

Preheat the broiler to High (or medium if your oven has that option -- mine does not).

Wash, dry, and slice the eggplant into 1/4-inch rounds. Place slices into a colander and sprinkle with sea salt to drain for 10 minutes any excess liquid. Rinse the salt off the slices and blot dry with a towel.

Moisten a metal baking sheet with the oil, spreading it to a thin layer with your hands (then rub the rest of the oil into your skin -- it feels so good!). Drizzle the eggplant slices with oil and sprinkle on some salt. Broil/roast the eggplant for 5 - 10 minutes, turning them over with tongs about half way through. You want them to soften and turn a golden brown (charring is considered undesirable). 

Remove the slices from the pan and place on a dish and cover quickly with aluminum foil. This step is intended to lock in the moisture.  Wait 5 minutes.

Peel away most of the skin on the slices, although it's okay to leave a little. (to be honest, I skipped this step) They say the skin should be soft and tender and come off easily. I did not find that to be true.

Put the eggplant into the food processor and add the lemon juice, Tahini, a pinch of salt, garlic, and basil and process until creamy. 

Serve Baba Ganoush with crackers or fresh veggies. This will keep well in the refrigerator for several days. 

I don't know how many servings this recipe makes up but a single serving is said to be 1/4 cup and only 86 calories!

1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed your very thorough descriptions and the photos! This is not something I'll ever make. My Joe does not like eggplant and it seems a little too involved for me to mess with it for myself. I'm sure it is delicious! Thanks for sharing!