Or why I will never make baba ghanoush the old way again. Let me explain.
Inspired by last week’s post-market triumph over the eggplant, I picked up another one this Saturday (along with a pile of vegetables we will figure out what to do with as the week progresses–stay tuned!). As regular readers know, last week was the episode in which I discovered that the key to delicious eggplant was burning it to a crisp under the broiler for almost an hour (I can’t even imagine how much better this gets if you have a gas range and can actually light it up over a flame). Thanks, Yotam Ottolenghi! I owe you one. And it seems I am not alone.
This week, I turned again to the source of past glories, seeking new triumphs: Ottolenghi’s Plenty. I know! An actual paper cookbook! Offline cooking is a little odd for me, seeing as I am traditionally leashed to Epicurious and fellow bloggers for inspiration, but it’s working so I’m stirring with the flow. I promise to stop quoting Ottolenghi soon, but meanwhile I can’t seem to help myself. The food is vegetarian (a major point in this kitchen!), unfussy yet interesting and, most importantly, delicious. Real cookbooks: previously only collecting dust, now equally splattered with cooking oil. Somehow, this feels like progress.
So, back to the baba. “Burnt eggplant with tahini” is not much more than that, but somehow the proportions of the makings, not to mention the chance to get that bottle of pomegranate molasses out of the fridge and back into action, made this scrape-together-and-stir dish extra fetching. Look out, next cocktail party! Here we come.
Burnt Eggplant with Tahini
Adapted from Plenty by Yotam Ottlenghi
1 large eggplant
1/3 cup tahini
*1T to 1/4 cup water
1 T pomegranate molasses
2 T lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, crushed and mashed with a little salt
3 T chopped parsley
salt and pepper, to taste
**handful of pomegranate seeds
olive oil to finish
Broil eggplant for 45 minutes to 1 hour (depending on size), turning half way through, until flesh is well charred. Cut open and removed flesh into a sieve to drain.*
In a wide bowl, mix eggplant with tahini, water, pomegranate molasses, lemon juice, garlic, parsley, salt, and pepper. Mash and stir (a dinner fork worked will for me), adding additional pomegranate molasses, lemon juice, and/or garlic as needed to suit your tastes (I got in at least one additional glug of molasses** before all was said and done).
If you want to do it up fancy, you can spread the dip into a dish and top with a drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkle of pomegranate seeds, and a few parsley leaves. If it’s for personal use, just exercise restraint and try not to eat the entire bowl with your mixing spoon.
*There’s some business about draining the eggplant flesh after roasting, but then you add in a 1/4 cup water afterwards. While there may be good reason for this in/out process, I simply drained briefly and then only added a splash of water. Any more and the texture risked unpleasantness, so exercise caution.
**If this dish was for a cocktail party, I would have sprung for the fresh pomegranate seeds to sprinkle over the top, but as it was just me and my crackers, I simply added an extra splash of the molasses. A less photogenic dish, admittedly, but it won’t be around long enough for anyone to complain about it.