Eggplant is such a beautiful, deep violet color that I imagine the first people that tried it were expecting something amazing. I wonder if those people were disappointed. When I see eggplant, I want to eat it then I am usually disappointed. I do not dislike the vegetable, I just do not fully appreciate it. I think that it is wonderful breaded and fried, but since I normally do not bread or fry I am often at a loss as to what to do with it. I have made eggplant parmesan vegan and gluten free, but it was not stellar. It is probably because I did not fry the eggplant. I am not the type to fry things. I do not love fried foods. Well, let me clarify--fried foods do not love me.
I have also sliced eggplant thin and oven roasted it and served it in a sandwich with roasted red pepper. I like eggplant that way, but I felt like I needed something new. The way I tend to prefer eggplant is in a Middle Eastern dish called baba ghanoush. For several weeks in a row, we had gotten eggplant in our CSA share and I decided to try the dish again. I had made it years ago and wanted to improve on the flavor. It came to me that the way to up the flavor in this dish would be to roast the garlic along with the eggplant. So I tried an experiment of stuffing the garlic into the eggplant while it was roasting. My thought was that the flavor of the garlic would infuse the eggplant while roasting. The result was a garlicky success.
I served this as a side dish to tofu and vegetable kabobs with brown rice on the side. As I thought about the flavor of the baba ghanoush, I envisioned it as a delicious pasta sauce as well. I tried the idea recently and was pleased with the result. Unfortunately, I did not take any pictures of it as a pasta sauce.
- 1 large eggplant or 3 small (I used 3 here)
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed and cut in three slices
- 3 Tbsp tahini
- 1 lemon, juiced
- Olive oil
- Chili powder
- Salt and pepper
- Sumac (optional)
When finished, remove from the oven and let cool. When cooled, remove the garlic from the eggplant and place into a food processor. Peel the eggplant and scoop out the tender inside into the food processor. Place the tahini and lemon juice in the processor and blend. Stream in olive oil until it has reached a consistency that you prefer. Add the chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper and pulse for a couple of seconds. Taste and add more seasoning, if needed.
Place into a serving dish and drizzle olive oil in the center. If using, sprinkle with sumac. If you do not have sumac, you can sprinkle with paprika.