An Easy Summer Staple
Summer vegetable almost seem too easy- ripe from the vine and filled with sunshine they are most often best enjoyed raw in a salad or brushed with olive oil and roasted to bring out their complex sweetness and acidity. This is one of the biggest reason why I love this season- full of stone fruit and bright vegetables, every meal is a reminder to savour summer while it lasts.
Eggplants have never been my go-to summer vegetable, they often play a supporting role to tomatoes and zucchini in a ratatouille or otherwise go unnoticed on my weekly market trips. However, I was recently handed two hefty bright purple aubergines from a local farm and sent home with them. Luckily my chef friend Sinem, who is not only an amazing cook but is also Turkish, is a huge fan of eggplants and knows how to truly celebrate them in all their glory.
Thanks to Sinem I quickly had quite a few recipe ideas that relieved me of what I often feel is an eggplant obligation: Eggplant Parmesan. Turns out you don’t have to automatically batter and fry every eggplant that comes your way. Avoid the floury, eggy mess and bust out your trusty summer cast of ingredients: olive oil, a pinch of salt, and a dash of lemon juice. In the case of Baba Ganoush you’ll also have to add Tahini to the mix, which is one of the less expensive nut/seed butters on the market so happily this recipe doesn’t break the bank.
Baba Ganoush has become a hit with my family and I’ve taken to whipping up a weekly batch, that gets devoured in a matter of days. Smeared on bread or dipped into with raw veggies, this makes a great apéro, starter, or side for the whole family. My two year old is a particular fan, which makes me feel great because it’s a smart way of getting her to ingest both a veggie and vitamin packed sesame seeds.
Serves a family for a few days
2 large or three medium eggplants
1/4 cup (160 grams) olive oil + 2 tablespoons
3 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons tahini
Juice from one lemon
Optional: Pumpkin seeds
Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).
Cut eggplants in half lengthways, then score the flesh sides in a crisscross pattern. Place on a large baking dish and brush with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Bake in oven for 30-45 mins, until flesh is golden and easily pierced with a knife. Once soft and golden, remove from oven and let cool.
In a blender or mixer, combine olive oil, chopped garlic, tahini, and lemon juice. Remove flesh from eggplants by scooping away from skin with a spoon. Add baked eggplant to blender or mixer. Mix until you reach desired consistency- the dip can be smooth or chunky, whichever you prefer! Taste and adjust seasoning- add a pinch of salt here and increase tahini, olive oil, etc. as needed. Continue to adjust to taste- note that the garlic taste will mellow over time so better to be prominent in the beginning over undetectable.
Transfer to a bowl and, if using, top with chopped pumpkin seeds to add texture. Serve at room temperature. Baba Ganoush will keep for several days covered and stored in the fridge- but it probably won’t last that long!