Sunday, March 2, 2008

Meatless Gluten-Free Lunch: Babaganoush

This simple eggplant dish is absolutely addictive. We make it 3 eggplants at a time and gorge on it and barely have enough for the next day, when it's 10 times as good! This recipe is for 2 eggplants, in case you are not as baba-obsessed as we are:

Take two shiny regular eggplants that are firm and heavy for their size, cut off their green hats, poke them all over with a sharp knife, and put them on the broiler pan that came with your stove, or on a rack. Turn the oven on to 500 degrees (Five Hundred - not a typo!). Put the eggplants in the oven and prepare to keep an eye on them. Close the door...

In about 20 minutes, take a look. You want the eggplants to sag, cooked till they're nearly liquified inside, but you don't want them to burn. (Once ours didn't sag for an hour - the skins had dried to a firm shell, with the flesh was well cooked. Delicious!). You do want them thoroughly cooked, so if you err, make it on the side of somewhat overdone. You can poke them with a fork at this point - watch out for a release of steam, and if the flesh inside is resistant, put them back in for a little longer.

When they're done, remove the pan from the oven and let them cool until they are no more than warm. Then put them on a plate and peel the skins off. The flesh goes in a bowl. Repeat till they're all peeled.

Now you have a choice of mashing them vigorously or putting them in a blender or food processor. I put almost all into a food processor, but keep about an eighth of the total out to add texture.

Add about 1/4 cup sesame tahini and a couple of cloves of garlic to the eggplant flesh and whirr until it is mixed. If there are chunks of garlic not blended in, that's ok... The mixture should be very thick.

Now add approximately 3 Tablespoons of fresh or bottled lemon juice, whirr again, and taste. You may want to add salt - we don't. Balance the taste of the tahini and lemon. Pour out on a flat dish and stir in the eggplant you left out of the food processor.

Pour copious amounts of great-tasting olive oil over the top and sprinkle with cayenne if you wish. Serve with blue-corn tortilla chips, over rice, or with carrot sticks, etc. Irresistable! PL

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