It always bewilders me when folks tell me they don't "get" eggplant. (My husband is included in this utterly strange group of people. No offense if you're included too ;) What is there to get? Rich, textured, creamy, and capable of absorbing so many flavors. Eggplant had a strong showing in my childhood, either cooked down with a million spices and yogurt, or chopped into chunks as juicy flavor bombs in chicken curry.
My absolute favorite way to enjoy eggplant is as babaganoush - a creamy Middle Eastern dip made from eggplant, tahini, lemon juice, and olive oil, with variation in seasoning from place to place. I kept this one as simple as those four ingredients I named, and added seasoning with Sweet Heat Cilantro, our best-selling Indian cilantro hot sauce that's bursting with freshness and flavor. I give some seasoning options below, just in case you can't get your hands on some of our condiments :) Swirl in some Sweet Heat Cilantro to babaganoush, hummus, or even yogurt, and suddenly you've got a dip you can't stop eating!
Given the simplicity of the ingredients I named, you might be wondering how on earth this could taste good! The answer lies in the charred eggplants. Char your eggplants straight over your burners for a wonderful smoky taste with oh so much depth. Have an outdoor grill or an open fire?! Even better.
1/3 cup tahini
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/2-1 cup olive oil
1/4 cup pine nuts for topping
large parmesan flakes
a couple of sprigs of cilantro
1 tbsp za'atar
1 tbsp white sesame seeds + 1 tbsp sumac
Char eggplants over burners at medium-high heat, turning every 3-5 minutes with tongs until the entire eggplant is charred. This will take about 15-20 minutes. Some of the juices may start to seep out - be careful with your tongs to avoid puncturing the eggplant. Let the eggplants cool.
Halve the eggplants and scoop out the cooked flesh. Test one eggplant first to make sure the inside is cooked - it will be creamy, moist, soft - not hard and firm like a raw eggplant. Toss the scooped out eggplant in a blender with tahini, 1/2 cup olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Pulse. I like my babaganoush with texture, not totally smoothed out. Add more olive oil as you see fit!
If you are opting just for seasoning with spices, add them to the blender as well. If you are using Sweet Heat Cilantro, swirl into the top. Toast pinenuts in a dry skillet over low-med heat for 2-3 minutes until lightly browned. Top babaganoush with pinenuts, large parmesan flakes, and a couple of sprigs of cilantro.
Serve with flatbread. Serves 6-8 as an appetizer.
Looking for a flatbread recipe?? I know I always am. Try: