Saturday, August 8, 2009

Smoky Baba Ghanoush

Years ago, The Chef and I lived in an apartment in a different area of Minneapolis. Just down the street there was a little Middle Eastern restaurant that had a small, inconspicuous storefront called Sinbad's. We would sit at one of the few tables and eat baklava, drink Turkish coffee, and soak in the hospitality from the pleasant owner (Sinbad?). Oftentimes we would leave with a pint of their extremely delicious Baba Ghanoush and would devour it with fresh pita bread. What set their eggplant spread apart from any others was its deep smokiness. Any other Baba Ghanoush I have had before or since hasn't contained even a hint of smoke to it and consequently, was never as delicious.

This story has a happy ending for barbecue extraordinaire Steven Raichlen has shown me the way. I was tuned into this show, Primal Grill, the other morning and there he was giving me step-by-step instructions on how to achieve the elusive smokiness. It's a genius, easy trick really: the whole eggplant is placed directly on top of fiery embers in the bottom of a grill. We made it ourselves and it was easy as can be. In about 15 minutes, The Chef brought in charred, softened eggplants, mixed the pulp with tahini, lemon juice, and olive oil and whipped it altogether in the food processor. Pure smoky goodness!

I can say that in the years when we participated in a CSA, I was always a little worried about how to tackle the eating of the eggplant when they would appear in our farm share boxes. The truth of the matter is, I don't exactly LOVE eggplant. I want to, I really do. As an on-the-fence eggplant eater, I would be surprised if anyone didn't enjoy this recipe.

We followed Mr. Raichlen's directions to a tee and found that getting the perfect mix of ingredients is a matter of taste--we added a little more tahini and lemon juice to suit our preference and sprinkled the spread with pimenton (smoked paprika) instead of hot paprika as specified. I found that an additional squeeze of fresh lemon juice truly added just the right astringency so absolutely serve it with lemon wedges.

For the recipe, click here.

1 comment:

deb said...

Oh I can't tell you how helpful this photo is. I'm studying every visible morsel of parsley. I understand now that some of my suffering from last week was self-made, because I thought we were supposed to chop little teeny pieces. Like, 1/16th X 1/16th inch size.

Once again, we see that size matters.