Monday, August 20, 2007

Baba Ghanouj and Tyler, Too

Growing up with two working parents and a pair of ravenous, athletic siblings, food never lasted very long. Leftovers were scarfed up within hours, and the idea of marinating or marrying flavors overnight was totally unheard of, if not outright heretical. That’s why chilis, soups, dips - really any dish that takes time to meld – still amaze me. Where in the olden days, I’d ask, “Why are you letting this go bad?,” I’m now fascinated by the slow development of flavor, as if the universe just needed a little more time to perfect its offering.

This baba ghanouj is like that.

Upon its immediate pour from the food processor, it tasted like ... how to put this delicately … mealworm poop. Mushy and a tad bitter, it was nothing I’d serve to guests, much less eat myself. Not wanting to waste all that eggplant, I shoved the bowl in the fridge and forgot about it.

While preparing lunch the next morning, I stuck a finger in (sanitary, right?), hoping it had improved during its 10-hour crisper drawer internment. It had. And how.

Like magic, the formerly inedible dip had morphed into a smooth, complex mound of tastiness that maybe just needed a little more salt and cayenne. I could picture it spread across a pita or a Ritz, maybe with a little tomato on the side and a nice glass of wine. Still marveling over its Tina Turner-caliber comeback, I packed a heap with my lunch and took off, wondering happily if the baba ghanouj would ameliorate for all infinity.

P.S. I cut the olive oil in half, added more salt and cayenne at the end, and used ¼ cup of leftover fresh parsley for a little extra flavor.

Simply Recipes / Field of Greens Baba Ghanouj (with changes)
6 servings – heaping ½ cup each
Adapted from Simply Recipes and Field of Greens.

2 globe eggplants (about 2 lbs)
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp roasted tahini (sesame paste)
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Juice of one lemon - about 2 1/2 tablespoons
3/4 teaspoon salt
Cayenne pepper
¼ cup chopped parsley

1) Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil.

2) Slice eggplant in half lengthwise. Brush cut surfaces with a little olive oil. Place on cookie sheet, cut side down. Roast about 35 minutes or until extremely tender, which you can tell by testing it with a knife. Drain eggplant for 15 minutes in a colander, then scrape meat out of the skin.

3) Dump eggplant, 1 tablespoon olive oil, tahini, garlic, cumin, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, salt, and a dash o' cayenne into a food processor. Pulse a few times. The dip should smooth out a bit, but there should still be chunks of eggplant.

4) Let the dip sit overnight in the fridge. Before serving, season to taste with lemon juice, salt, and red pepper. Gently stir in parsley. Serve.

Approximate Calories, Fat, and Price Per Serving
120.5 calories, 8 g fat, $0.64

2 globe eggplants (about 2 lbs): 264 calories, 2 g fat, $2.19
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil: 240 calories, 28 g. fat, $0.16
2 Tbsp roasted tahini (sesame paste): 190 calories, 18 g fat, $0.25
1 garlic clove, finely chopped: 5 calories, 0 g fat, $0.05
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin: negligible calories and fat, $0.05
Juice of one lemon: 24 calories, 0 g fat, $0.34
3/4 teaspoon salt: negligible calories and fat, $0.02
Cayenne pepper: negligible calories and fat, $0.02
¼ cup chopped parsley: negligible calories and fat, $0.75
TOTAL: 723 calories, 48 g fat, $3.83
PER SERVING (TOTAL/6): 120.5 calories, 8 g fat, $0.64

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