I like eggplant. I like the taste and look of them. They come in all kinds of cartoon-like balloon shapes and sizes. They can be purple, elegantly striped or creamy white.
Historically, eggplants and other nightshade vegetables, have suffered from bad press. Sometimes called “mala insana” or “mad apple,” it was thought that eggplants caused many ailments including fever, epilepsy and insanity. It’s no wonder that Northern Europeans mainly used them ornamentally until the 1600s.
The PR for eggplants in Spain was certainly more favorable. Prizing eggplants for aphrodisiac qualities, the Spaniards dubbed them, “Berengenas” or “The Apple of Love.” It’s all in the branding.
India, Pakistan, the Middle East and China have been enjoying eggplant forever or there abouts.
The real nutritional winner in eggplant is a phytonutrient found in the skin called nasunin. Nasunin is a potent antioxidant and has antiangiogenic properties, which are purported to inhibit cancer growth.
Next time I’m making a double batch of this Middle Eastern dish. My husband and I ate it in two days and I was sad to see the empty bowl. Luckily, it’s a breeze to make so I plan to pick up more eggplant at the farmers market this week. I may even triple the recipe and pop the extra (if there is any) in the freezer. I’d pick baba ganoush over humus for a dip any day, but it is also delicious on roasted chicken or as a sandwich spread.
Tahini is a lightly roasted sesame paste. It’s usually found with other nut butters or in the international section of grocery stores.
2 large eggplants (about 1 1/2 pound)
1/2 cup tahini
2-3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 1/4 teaspoons coarse salt
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
- Preheat oven to 400º F.
- Trim the stem of eggplant.
- Prick eggplant with a fork in several places and place on a baking sheet. Bake the eggplant until it is soft and deflated, about 45 minutes.
- Let the eggplant cool. Cut the eggplant in half lengthwise. You can scoop out the pulp, but I prefer to just put the whole shabang in the food processor. That way you get all the nutrients in the skin.
- Add tahini, garlic, lemon juice and salt to food processor and process until smooth. You can also mash this with a potato masher
- Stir in the parsley. Season with more salt, to taste.
Serve with homemade pita bread. Serves four to six.