Smoky Herbed Baba Ghanoush

Makes about 2 cups

Smoky Herbed Baba Ghanoush

Wherever I traveled in the Middle East or Mediterranean region, baba ghanoush was prevalent on any menu, in every home and at all roadside stands. The recipes were as varied as the food venues. The recipe below, though, is based on guidance I received from a cook in Kuwait. She told me the key to a phenomenal baba ghanoush is not only roasting the eggplant but also including bits of the charred flesh in the final dish to create a smoky flavor. Normally, onions are not an ingredient in ghanoush, but roasted they provide a great balance to the garlic. Traditionally served with Lavash but pita or naan bread can be substituted.

3 1/2 pounds eggplants (about 4 medium eggplants), cut in half lengthwise
1 medium onions, unpeeled and cut in half
3 1/2 T garlic flavored extra virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing lavash and drizzling
2 T tahini paste
1/4 c plus 2 T walnuts
2 T fresh rosemary
1 T fresh parsley
1 garlic clove, minced
2 t fresh lemon juice
½ t sea salt
Freshly ground pepper
Lavash bread

Heat oven broiler.

Flavor Tier 1

Using 2 tablespoons olive oil, brush cut sides of eggplants and onion. Place on cookie sheet and into oven. Broil, turning every 3 minutes until all sides of the eggplant and onion are charred and both have softened, approximately 10 minutes depending on the size of the eggplant.

Flavor Tier 2

Transfer eggplant to paper bag and seal. Cool in bag. Place onion on cutting board and allow to cool. Remove eggplant from bag. Remove charred flesh from cut side of 6 halves. Scoop flesh into food processer. Scoop flesh from remaining two halves, including charred flesh, into food processor. Remove skin from onion. Cut each half into quarters. Add to food processor. Add tahini to food processor. Set aside.

Flavor Tier 3

In medium skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add walnuts and cook over medium high heat, stirring until browned and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Transfer to bowl. Cool. Finely chop 1 tablespoon walnuts. Set aside. Add remaining walnuts and garlic to eggplant and onion in food processor. Process until smooth.

Flavor Tier 4

Using the same skillet, heat ½ tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add rosemary and parsley to skillet. Cook, stirring, until just crisp, 2-3 minutes. Transfer to cutting board. Cool. Coarsely chop herbs.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat in same skillet used for the walnuts and herbs. Add processed eggplant mix. Cook 6-7 minutes to thicken mixture. Remove from heat. Stir in lemon juice and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Flavor Tier 5

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Brush each side of the bread with olive oil. Place on baking sheet or clay baking sheet. Bake 2 minutes on each side. Remove from oven. Using oven mitts for hand protection, roughly tear each circle into large serving pieces. Place in towel lined basket and cover to keep warm.

To Serve

Place into serving bowl. Sprinkle chopped herbs over top of baba ghanoush. Drizzle with additional olive oil, allowing to puddle in well. Sprinkle reserved finely chopped walnuts around baba ghanoush with a bit extra in the well. Serve with Lavash.