If you have been to a farmers market lately, you’ll notice an array of colorful produce. It’s officially summer and that means a rainbow of fruits and veggies. Despite the horrific drought that South Texas is enduring (months without a drop of rain, though we did get a few inches two nights ago), the wild diversity of produce is definitely amazing.
Granted, Texas peaches are in short supply, but there’s about a dozen varieties of tomatoes at the Quarry Farmers & Ranchers Market, more than four kinds of cucumbers, okra, 1015 and red burgundy onions, shallots, leeks, a wide variety of both squash and zucchini, carrots, peas, beets, bell peppers, jalapenos, Serranos, quite an impressive selection of melons (watermelons, cantaloupes, yellow canary, Santa Claus and honeydews), blackberries and eggplant.
Gorgeous auburgines, what the French call eggplants. These purple, pear-shaped vegetables are one of my all-time favorites. Maybe it’s that purple is my favorite color, or maybe not, but these beauties are truly fantastic and their versatility is immense. They can be sauteed, grilled, fried or roasted. Sliced, diced, chopped or pureed.
And once you learn how to work with eggplant, they can brighten your world. Or at least bring a spectacular dimension of flavor to it. They are also loaded with vitamins and phytonutrients, a great source of dietary fiber, potassium, manganese, copper and vitamin B1.
Since my hummus kick needs a new kick of its own, I have decided to change things up a bit and make baba ganoush. It’s something David and I both love, but I have never made it at home before.
Like hummus, baba ganoush calls for tahini, garlic, lemon juice and olive oil. But instead of using garbanzo beans as a base, you roast the eggplant so it gets a lovely smoky flavor and creates this creamy concoction that pairs well with toasted pita, grilled bread and also raw vegetables, if you happen to be low-carbing it.
I have so been enjoying taking advantage of the fresh picks at the market and making entirely new dishes. Though I may have screwed myself. Now that David knows I can make a sensational roasted tomato soup and baba ganoush, I may have to add them to our regular rotation of favorite dishes.
- 2 medium eggplants
- 1/4 cup tahini organic sesame paste
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 3-4 garlic cloves peeled and chopped
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Handful flat-leaf parsley chopped
- Smoked paprika garnish
- Drizzle extra virgin olive oil
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Prick each eggplant about 8 times (twice per quarter side) and then char them on the outside by placing them directly on the flame of a gas burner or charring them under the broiler.
Whichever method you use, turn the eggplants until they are uniformly-charred on all sides. If using the gas stove top, this can be a messy job but worth every clean up cost. (If cooking under the broiler, place on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet.)
Next place the eggplants on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet and roast in the oven for 30-40 minutes, until they are completely soft. You should be able to easily poke a paring knife into them and meet no resistance.
Remove from the oven and let cool.
Split the eggplants and scrape out the pulp into a food processor. Add the other ingredients and puree until smooth.
Taste and season with additional salt and lemon juice, if necessary. Chill for a few hours. An hour before serving, remove from the fridge and allow to come to room temperature. Sprinkle with a pinch of smoked paprika for garnish and then drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil.
Serve with toasted pita, grilled bread or plenty of raw veggies such as red and yellow peppers and cucumber spears.