We all love a good babaghanoug - made with roasted eggplants, tahini, garlic, lemon, and cumin, it promises an explosive taste-bud sensation and makes a perfect side to any dish, whether Middle Eastern or otherwise, or just on its own. At my place, we use it as spread in sandwiches instead of cheese, and brunch with it with crackers (see those tortilla chips in the photo? You can effortlessly make those. You’re welcome). I'll also drone on a bit on the nutritional value of this insanely simple side. First of all, eggplants - Iron, magnesium, potassium, and a bucket-load of other nutrients with minimal calories. Because it’s low in fat and high in fiber, it’s also great for anyone with heart problems or bad cholesterol.
And tahini. Now, the only reservation I have about tahini is that on its own, it's rather bitter and kinda greasy. HOWEVER, it completely alters the taste of a dish once it’s added – for the absolute better. It is also phenomenally essential in most of the Middle Eastern side-dish formulas, and you absolutely cannot make babaghanoug without it. Given that, it also has enormous nutritional value:
It’s rich in minerals such as phosphorus, lecithin, magnesium, potassium and iron.
It's a good source of Methionine, which aids in liver detoxification.
It’s one of the best sources of calcium out there.
It’s high in vitamin E and vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5 and B15.
Helps to promote healthy cell growth.
Helps to maintain healthy skin and muscle tone.
It has 20% complete protein, making it a higher protein source than most nuts (you’d better believe it!).
It's easy for your body to digest because of its high alkaline mineral content, which is great for assisting in weight loss.
It is high in unsaturated fat (good fat!) (source: http://www.mindbodygreen.com)
Inspired? You should be. Everything about babaghanoug is a nutrition-bomb. Make some right now - and munch on it guiltlessly when the binge-craving attacks.
2 or 3 medium sized eggplants, roasted and peeled
2 large cloves of garlic
½ cup tahini
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons plain vinegar
Juice of 1 large lemon (or 2 small ones*)
1 heaped teaspoon ground cumin
¾ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
To roast eggplants:
Wash eggplants, and snip off the stem
Poke holes into the flesh all around with a fork, or tip of a sharp knife
Wrap your eggplants firmly in foil, and roast in the oven on high heat for 1 – 1 ½ hours, until tender when poked. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
Once cooled, undo the foil wrapping, and peel away as much of the skin as possible (or slice it in half, and scoop out the flesh with a tablespoon)
Store flesh in an airtight container until needed (I do this if I have a lot of eggplants at home, and store them in the freezer until I need to make a batch of babaghanoug later) or continue with recipe.
In a blender, add roasted eggplant pulp and garlic cloves. Blend until smooth
Add the rest of the ingredients and blend until incorporated
Serve, or store in an air-tight container for up to a week.
Oven-toasted tortilla chips:
4 large store-bought plain flour tortillas
Olive oil spray
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon spice-mix of your choice
With a pizza-cutter, slice the tortillas into quarters, then eights
Arrange on a large foil-lined tray, and spray tortillas lightly with olive oil
Sprinkle with salt and spices
Pop your tray in the oven for 10 to 12 minutes on high heat, or until slightly golden and crispy (this doesn’t take long, as tortillas dry out almost instantly. Keep an eye on them!)
Remove from the oven and allow to cool, shuffling them around to make sure nothing stuck to the foil, and also to ciculate the air and help them cool. Cooling will also make them very crispy!
Serve with your babaghanoug, and store the rest in a plastic bag – make sure it’s airtight. Enjoy!