Baba Ganoush

Yesterday, I catered a large party. It was all vegetarian. I served falafel, tabouli, lentil salad, hummus and Baba Ganoush.

Baba ghanoush is a Levantine dish of eggplant (aubergine) mashed and mixed with virgin olive oil and various seasonings. The eggplant is charred over an open flame and then baked, so that the pulp is soft and has a smoky taste. It is eaten as a dip with pita bread, and is sometimes added to other dishes.

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Baba Ganoush

Serves 6

1 large eggplant
1/4 cup tahini, plus more as needed
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, plus more as needed
1 pinch ground cumin
salt, to taste
1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbs chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup brine-cured black olives, such as kalamata

Prepare a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill.

Preheat an oven to 375°F.

Prick the eggplant with a fork in several places and place on the grill rack 4 to 5 inches from the fire.

Grill, turning frequently, until the skin blackens and blisters and the flesh just begins to feel soft, 10 to 15 minutes.

Transfer the eggplant to a baking sheet and bake until very soft, 15 to 20 minutes.

Remove from the oven, let cool slightly, and peel off and discard the skin.

Place the eggplant flesh in a bowl. Using a fork, mash the eggplant to a paste.

Add the 1/4 cup tahini, the garlic, the 1/4 cup lemon juice and the cumin and mix well.

Season with salt, then taste and add more tahini and/or lemon juice, if needed.

Transfer the mixture to a serving bowl and spread with the back of a spoon to form a shallow well.

Drizzle the olive oil over the top and sprinkle with the parsley. Place the olives around the sides and serve at room temperature.

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