Sunday, September 22, 2013

Chunky Baba Ganoush

Perhaps I should have started with this classic for my series eggplant recipes, but this seemed like a good choice to share on Sunday, when so many of us are gathered around the TV to cheer on the Packers (or some other team, if you must) and stuffing our faces with snacks. If you're putting out a spread, it's nice to have something to balance out classic snacks like pizza and wings and accommodate any vegetarians, vegans, or healthy eaters you may have at your party (a real consideration in Madison). I ate this dip as an afternoon snack with crudites, but I'd be proud to serve it with veggies or pita chips for the game.

There's nothing too exotic about the base of this baba ganoush, which starts with the classic combination of eggplant, tahini, garlic, salt, and lemon juice and the frequent addition of fresh parsley. Where it goes a touch off the beaten path is with the addition of smoked paprika and the inclusion of the eggplant skin. Traditionally the flesh of the eggplant is scooped from the skin after roasting and the skin is discarded, but I hate the thought of throwing that nutritious, beautiful purple skin away when it only serves to give the dip more texture and flavor. (It also doesn't hurt that it's easier to just give it a rough chop and toss it all in the food processor.)

Creamy, earthy, herby, and smoky, this easy dip is is worth making whether to feed a crowd for an afternoon or just one with a week of healthy snacks.

Chunky Baba Ganoush
makes about 1 1/2 to 2 cups

1 pound eggplant (1 medium to large or multiple small eggplants)
1 to 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed through a garlic press (to taste)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, plus more for garnish
2 tablespoons tahini
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Smoked paprika (optional), to taste

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

2. Cut the stem and bottom ends off the eggplant and halve lengthwise. Score the flesh as deep as possible without cutting through the skin. Cut diagonal lines about an inch apart, then turn the eggplant around and repeat so you have a diamond pattern.

3. Brush the eggplant flesh with olive oil and place face-down on a baking sheet. Roast for 35-40 minutes, or until the back of the eggplant looks collapsed and puckered (this will be shorter if using multiple smaller eggplants). Allow eggplant to cool briefly, then cut into large chunks and transfer to a food processor. (Alternatively, you can scoop the flesh out with a spoon, but I prefer to keep the nutrition and texture the skin provides).
4. Add remaining ingredients to the eggplant and pulse to desired texture. Taste and season with additional salt, if desired, and garnish with additional parsley.

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