Sometimes I look at eggplants and think, what on earth can I do with this thing in the kitchen?! While the oblong and purple squash-like creature may look cumbersome to cook or eat, it is actually used in a variety ways. You can grill it, bake it, chop it, puree it and even kabob it. I love to use eggplant as a meat alternative when making lasagna and even the pickiest of eaters can’t taste the difference.
Did you know that eggplants are actually part of the Nightshade family and are related to the potato and tomato? Because of this it was thought of as poisonous and unedible for many years. It is native to far Eastern countries such as Sri Lanka, India, Bangledesh, Nepal and Pakistan. It is not a vegetable but actually a fruit and is botanically classified as a berry. They can vary in appearance with some varieties being small and round (as used in a lot of Thai cuisine) or oblong like a cucumber/squash.
In keeping with the dip theme I had in the previous post, I have a simple and delicious recipe for Baba Ganoush. This is an Arabic dish using mashed eggplants with various seasonings. The most popular way to prep the eggplant is to roast it on the BBQ and bake in the oven to give a smokey flavour and soft pulp. The eggplant is what gives this delicious dip its unique taste.
Remember that when you store eggplant keep it away from other veggies and fruit as it emits ethylene gas which will spoil other produce in your fridge.
– 3 medium eggplants
– ¼ cup of tahini (roasted sesame paste)
– 1 ¼ tsp of course salt
– 3 tbsp of freshly squeezed lemon juice
– 3 cloves garlic, peeled and mashed
– 1/8 tsp of chili powder
– 1 tbsp of olive oil
– a half bunch of picked flat-leaf parsley or cilantro leaves
1. Preheat the oven to 375F (190C).
2. Prick each eggplant a few times, then char the outside of the eggplants by placing them directly on the flame of a gas burner and as the skin chars, turn them until the eggplants are uniformly-charred on the outside. (If you don’t have a gas stove, you can char them under the broiler. If not, skip to the next step.)
3. Place the eggplants on a baking sheet and roast in the oven for 20 to 30 minutes, until they’re completely soft; you should be able to easily poke a paring knife into them and meet no resistance.
4. Remove from oven and let cool.
5. Split the eggplant and scrape out the pulp. Puree the pulp in a blender or food processor with the other ingredients until smooth.
6. Taste, and season with additional salt and lemon juice, if necessary.
Be sure to chill this dip for a few hours before serving. I suggest pairing this dip with some delicious artisan bread from A Bread Affair.