Baba Ghanoush

by Joseph Erdos
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babaghnoujDuring the heat of summer I'm always looking for foods that are light, refreshing, and ultimately cool. I never crave hot foods in summer—and who does? The best cuisine for staying cool under the sun has always been Mediterranean. These foods, especially the dips and spreads, never make you feel like you've been weighed down. Many vegetables make a delicious dip, but eggplant dip is particularly popular in the region and beyond.

Baba ghanoush, the famous Lebanese dip, is part of a traditional meze platter, which can include, hummus, stuffed grape leaves, olives, and flatbread. In Greece they have a similar dip called melitzanosalata. The basic recipe consists of roasted eggplant that is mashed together with garlic and parsley. Tahini (sesame seed paste) and lemon juice can also be added for more flavor. That's all you need to create this appetizer. When you're looking for something simple for summer entertaining, baba ghanoush might just be your solution.

Baba Ghanoush

Note: To make your own pita chips: Cut flatbreads into wedges and toss with a drizzling of olive oil. Toast in a 350-degree oven until light brown and crisp.

1 pound eggplant, preferably long varieties like Japanese (about 2)
1 garlic clove, mashed into a paste
1 tablespoon tahini
2 tablespoons lemon juice (about 1/2 lemon)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1/4 cup chopped parsley
fine sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
toasted flatbreads, for serving

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Prick eggplant all over. Place on a baking sheet lined with foil. Roast until knife tender, about 20 to 30 minutes. Cut a slit into each eggplant and let cool to the touch.

Scrape eggplant into the bowl of a food processor. Discard skin. Add garlic paste, tahini, lemon juice, olive oil, and parsley. Pulse until chunky. Season with salt and pepper and pulse to combine. Chill for at least 1 to 2 hours. Spoon into a serving bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Serve with toasted flatbreads. Yield: 6 to 8 servings as an appetizer. 

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