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Published September 08, 2010, 12:00 AM

Halgrimson: Eggplant dish a favorite

I always welcome a free eggplant. And in spite of what Sue Doeden says about zucchini in her Forum column, I do not greet free zucchini with the same fervor.

By: Andrea Hunter Halgrimson, INFORUM

I always welcome a free eggplant. And in spite of what Sue Doeden says about zucchini in her Forum column, I do not greet free zucchini with the same fervor.

This eggplant was given to me by Doug Scraper, owner of Boerth’s Frame and Mirror and co-owner of Monte’s Downtown, both in Fargo.

Scraper is Lebanese and frequently mentions some of the delicacies of that culture’s kitchens. I told him I was going to make baba ghanoush and thus, the eggplant from his garden.

Baba ghanoush is a country cousin of hummus, both of them Middle Eastern purees served as dips with pita bread, flatbread or vegetables. They are divine.

The only difference between the ingredients for hummus and baba ghanoush is that with hummus, you open a can of chickpeas, add the remaining items and whiz. But with baba ghanoush, you have to plan ahead

and have some roasted eggplant on hand. The other ingredients – lemon juice, tahini, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper – are the same.

When I asked Scraper if he made baba ghanoush, he said no, but that his cousin did. I’ve been needling Scraper for years to have a Lebanese dinner at Monte’s Downtown. We shouldn’t have to drive to Emily’s Lebanese Deli in Minneapolis to partake of a Lebanese dinner.

When I told my Sam I was going to make baba ghanoush, he said to be sure I used plenty of garlic. So I’ll use six to eight cloves rather than just two. And if you want to liven up the looks of these dips, top them with some chopped fresh parsley.

Baba Ghanoush

1 eggplant, roasted

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/4 cup tahini (sesame-seed paste)

Salt and pepper to taste

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil

To roast eggplant, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place eggplant on a lightly greased baking sheet. Pierce skin with a fork and roast for 30 to 40 minutes, turning occasionally, until soft. Remove from oven and cool until it can be peeled and the flesh scooped out.

Whiz garlic to chop it up and then add eggplant, lemon juice, tahini and garlic and process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer eggplant mixture to a medium-size mixing bowl and slowly mix in olive oil. Refrigerate for several hours before serving. Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

Hummus

2 to 6 cloves garlic

1 can (15 ounces) chickpeas drained

Juice of 1 lemon

Salt and pepper to taste

2 tablespoons tahini

2 Tablespoons virgin olive oil

Chop garlic in food processor and add remaining ingredients and whiz to make a puree. Taste and adjust seasoning. If the dip is too thick, add a little water until desired consistency is reached. Scoop into a bowl and serve with pita bread wedges, flatbread or vegetables. Makes about 1½ cups.


Readers can reach Forum columnist Andrea Hunter Halgrimson at ahalgrimson@forumcomm.com

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