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Mezze Plate of Smoky Lebanese-Style Baba Ganoush, Feta, Olives, Pickled Turnip and Grilled Flatbread

By Heidi Allison
Image of Mezze Plate of Smoky Lebanese-Style Baba Ganoush, Feta, Olives, Pickled Turnip and Grilled Flatbread
An homage to the smoky, Lebanese-style eggplant dip, baba ganoush, this recipe grills the eggplants directly over the flame of a gas stove to create its requisite, smokey flavor. Although you can cook the eggplant under a broiler (less mess), the downside is you will lose that sublime smoky flavor that defines this dish. If you plan to use a barbecue, cook the eggplant before the proteins, which keeps its flavor “clean.” This recipe creates a seriously addictive side that complements our fav summer foods— smoked ribs and brisket, barbecued chicken, or grilled fish.

Although many baba ganoush recipes call for the grilled eggplants to be pureed in a food processor or blender, I prefer using the traditional method—a mortar and pestle—which does not over-process the eggplant. This initial step is followed up by whipping the tahini, lemon juice, olive oil, roasted garlic and salt into the smoked eggplant with the tines of a fork, which lightens up both the texture and color of the eggplant in the finished dish.

Don’t skip the crucial step of draining the eggplant in a colander immediately after grilling. This vegetable releases bitter, brown-colored juices that you should remove before incorporating the tahini, lemon juice, garlic and salt. If there are any leftovers, use this versatile side as a condiment—slather it on sandwiches instead of mayo for a healthier bread spread.

Baba Ghanoush
Serves: 4 as a main; 5-6 as a side
Image of Ingredients for Baba Ghanoush
Ingredients:
1 head of garlic
1 teaspoon olive oil
4 small eggplants, about 2.5 pounds
2 lemons
1½ teaspoons kosher flake salt
4 tablespoons organic tahini (Sadaf brand is recommended)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

Preparation:

Preheat a toaster oven to 400°F. Place a head of garlic on a piece of aluminum foil, drizzle 1 teaspoon of olive oil over the garlic and place into the oven and cook till soft—about 40 minutes. Remove garlic from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Remove skin and squeeze out 4 cloves of garlic and set aside.
Image of preparing eggplant
Place eggplants on the grate of a gas stove and turn the flame up to medium-high heat. As the eggplants blister, turn them with tongs until all sides are charred—about 10 minutes. Before removing eggplants from the stove, check to see if the flesh is soft—insert a bamboo skewer into the center —then remove cooked eggplants to a colander placed into a large bowl. Drain for at least 15 minutes, then discard collected bitter juices. Remove charred skin with your fingers and place eggplants in a large bowl and macerate with a pestle briefly until homogenous—about 2 to 3 minutes.
Image of sauce
Add tahini, lemon juice, roasted garlic, and salt and whip ingredients into the grilled eggplant with tines of a fork until incorporated. Cover and place into the fridge for several hours to allow the flavors to develop.
Image of baba ganoush
To serve, place baba ganoush in a bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle smoked paprika. Serve with feta cheese, sliced mini-bell peppers, lemon and oregano marinated olives, pickled turnip, and grilled flatbread.
Image of Mezze Plate of Smoky Lebanese-Style Baba Ganoush, Feta, Olives, Pickled Turnip and Grilled Flatbread
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