As I mentioned in my latest post about labneh (ie, homemade cream cheese!), The Chef and I recently attended a Middle Eastern-themed dinner party where I was challenged to make and bring an appetizer on theme.
Of course, my first thought was hummus — a traditional Middle Eastern dip made from chickpeas, tahini, olive oil, and a few other ingredients — but our host called that dish from the get go. And it was delicious … as was the entire meal. Seriously, if my friend Justin ever invites you to one of his dinner parties, say yes immediately!
So, with hummus out, my next thought went to baba ganoush — another traditional Middle Eastern dip made from mashed eggplant, tahini, and other assorted ingredients. Yes, I’ll make baba ganoush, I decided. But I couldn’t just make straight up baba ganoush … I had to put my Rhubarb and Honey spin on it.
Enter roasted garlic.
I love garlic in its regular state, but when roasted? The mellow, sweet, caramelized flavor that develops turns regular garlic into candy. Delicious garlic candy. And garlic candy is a fabulous addition to traditional baba ganoush.
Served with toasted whole wheat, sumac, and black sesame seed pita chips (recipe below too), my roasted garlic baba ganoush was a hit. I hope you like it as much as we did.
Roasted Garlic Baba Ganoush
- 1 large eggplant (about 1 1/4 pounds)
- 2 heads garlic
- 1 small onion
- 2 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons tahini
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- Salt and pepper to taste
1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Lightly grease an extra-large baking sheet.
2. Halve the eggplant, and rub the cut surfaces with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Place the eggplant on one half of the baking sheet.
3. Cut the tops off of the garlic heads. Place each garlic head in a square of aluminum foil, then drizzle each head with 1/2 tablespoon olive oil. Wrap the garlic heads in the aluminum foil, then place on the other half of the baking sheet.
4. Cut the onion in half, and remove the outer skin. Roughly chop the onion, then place into another square of aluminum foil. Cover the chopped onion with 1/2 tablespoon olive oil. Wrap the onion in the aluminum foil, then place on the baking sheet with the garlic.
4. Roast the eggplant, garlic, and onion for 30 to 40 minutes, turning the eggplant occasionally, until everything is soft. Remove the baking sheet from the oven, and allow the eggplant, garlic, and onion to cool.
5. When cool enough to handle, scoop out the flesh from the eggplant, and place into the bowl of a food processor. Remove the garlic from the aluminum foil, then squeeze the roasted cloves into the food processor as well. Remove the onion from the aluminum foil, then add to the food processor as well.
6. Add the lemon juice and tahini to the food processor, and then puree the entire mixture until mostly smooth. Stir in the cumin, then season with salt and pepper to taste.
7. Transfer the eggplant mixture to a serving bowl. Refrigerate for 3 hours before serving.
Notes: I garnished my baba ganoush with some chopped kalamata olives. A drizzle of olive oil would a great touch as well.
Toasted Whole Wheat Pita with Sumac and Black Sesame Seeds
Adapted from Fine Cooking
- 1 tablespoon black sesame seeds
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sumac
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder (or more or less to taste)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 8 whole wheat pita rounds
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil (or more if necessary)
1. Position a rack in the center of the oven. Heat the oven to 350°F.
2. In a small bowl, combine the sesame seeds, sumac, chili powder, and salt; stir together thoroughly.
3. Split each pita into 2 rounds, and then cut each round into 8 triangular pieces.
4. Lightly brush a large rimmed baking sheet with a olive oil. Place as many pita chips, inner side down, as you can on the baking sheet; the pita chips can be close together, but should not overlap.
5. Brush the outer side of the pita chips with additional olive oil, then sprinkle evenly with some of the spice mixture. Toast the pita chips in the oven until golden brown and crisp, about 8 to 10 minutes.
6. Repeat with the remaining pita chips and spice mixture in additional batches.