Tahini with Eggplant

tahini 6.2.13I’ve had baba ghanoush in the past, but not recently. And had, I realized, never made it. But with my now-started jar of tahini in the fridge, and an eggplant begging to be used, it seemed the perfect opportunity.

Between when I had the thought to make it and when I knew I’d actually be able to, I bought another eggplant, just in case that first one faded out.

But it hung in there. So I had two medium eggplants to use. Because the skin of the first one was getting soft in spots, I peeled it. The flesh was a nice healthy white. I left the other intact. Pierced the eggplants a few times with a knife. Poured a little oil on a sheet pan, and rubbed both eggplants all around in it, then slid them into a 425° oven to roast for 35 minutes.

When I took them out, they were soft and sagging. The peeled one had also browned. The unpeeled one had sunk like a beanbag chair.

I let them cool, then sliced the unpeeled eggplant in half, and pulled the softened flesh from the skin, adding it to the peeled one already in a bowl. Since I’ve been without a food processor for some time now, I used my hands to mash the eggplant. A food processor could easily take it to a more puréed texture. Mine was a mix of smooth and small bites of eggplant.

The balance of eggplant, tahini and lemon juice is key, so I tasted between additions, adjusting. I added a quarter-cup of tahini to the mashed eggplant to start. It gave it a creamy texture, and the taste of tahini coming through. Then I added half the juice I’d squeezed from two lemons (the two lemons made about a quarter-cup of juice). I could just make out lemon when I tasted, and thought it could use the rest, so I added it. Then I added an additional eighth of a cup of tahini to balance the additional lemon (for a total of three-eighths of a cup of tahini, if you’re keeping track). Stirred it all in, tasted, and stopped. Flavors balanced.

To season, I added three minced garlic cloves and one scallion that I’d cut lengthwise, and then into thin slices. If I’d had parsley, I might’ve chopped that in, and then used another garlic clove or two. But I had beautiful scallions from the farmers market, and that gave a little bite, plus fresh green color to stir in. Salt, to taste.

This could be a spread in a sandwich with roasted peppers and chopped lettuce. Of course, it is also a wonderful dip. My husband and I had it as sort-of both. I heated up a couple flat naan breads I had in the freezer, and sliced a cucumber. We dipped bread and cucumbers into the dip, as well as spread the baba ghanoush on top of the cucumbers and breads. Either way, it was great. The flavors blended well together, but you could make out the taste of the eggplant, tahini, and lemon. They weren’t lost to each other. They complemented each other.

With the hot day ahead, this light, lemony dip became one of the first of this summer’s go-to dishes for cool eating on hot days.

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