I’m somewhat of a grazer, preferring to pick throughout the day or at least eat many small meals instead of few larger ones. Our dinner often consists purely of a handful of homemade dips, good quality cheese and dukkah with olive oil, with the leftovers making for the perfect lunch or between-meals snack the next day. Picking up a voluptuous eggplant at the markets this morning meant only one thing: smoky eggplant dip. Two reasons for this: I’m a big fan of said dip, and because preparing eggplant in any other fashion scares me stupid.
I’ve been scarred many a time by my own failings in the kitchen involving a tough moussaka and a spongy curry, to name a few. Of all the vegetable friends I make in the kitchen, eggplant simply ain’t one of them. That and five years of vegetarianism ensuring I was limited to dishes containing what seemed to be the vegetarian’s ‘holy trinity’ (capsicum, zucchini and eggplant), not exactly my favourite flavour combination. I’m certain I simply need more practice with this purple gem, as my Nonna’s ‘melanzane parmigiana’ is one of my favourite things in her repertoire. But then again, if your Nonna is doing a fine job of said dish, shouldn’t I let sleeping dogs lie? I’ll stick with my baba ghanouj, thank you very much.
smoky eggplant dip (baba ghanouj) – makes approx 1-1.5 cups – gluten free + vegan
- 1 large eggplant, halved lengthways
- 1 tbsp tahini
- juice of 1 lemon
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 small clove of garlic
- few tbsp of extra virgin olive oil, to smooth out the mix
- salt and pepper, to taste
here’s what you do…
- Preheat your grill to it’s highest setting. Place the two eggplant halves, skin side up, on a tray lined with foil. Grill until the skin is blackened and the flesh can be pierced easily with a skewer. The timing of this will vary depending on your grill and the size of your eggplant, but mine took roughly 30 minutes. Keep your eye on it, checking every 5 minutes or so.
- Allow the eggplant to cool slightly before scooping the flesh into your food processor. Add remaining ingredients except the oil and whiz, adding the oil 1 tbsp at a time whilst processor is running. Make sure you only add enough oil to smooth out the mixture, allowing for a creamy, homogenous dip.
- Season to taste, even adding more lemon or cumin if you wish. Serve drizzled with fresh olive oil and black sesame seeds, if you wish, alongside fresh, warm bread.