Eggplant Favorites Recipes
by Zehorit Heilicher, Tastemaker in Residence
“When my baby cooks her Eggplant,
She don't read no book.
She's got a Giocanna kinda of dirty look
And my baby cooks her Eggplant,
Bout 19 different ways.”
(Michael Franks – The Art of Tea)
My American husband introduced me to Michael Franks’ music and in turn I introduced him to eggplant – 19 different ways. Yep, I confess, I can make eggplant 19 different ways, probably more. Growing up on the Mediterranean shores, eggplant varieties featured prominently in most meals or snacks we consumed. Grilled, charred, stuffed, sliced, ground or chopped, cold or hot, we LOVE eggplant.
Naturally, my mother took my eggplant education quite seriously and from an early age coached me in the finer points of picking out the perfect eggplant: “Hold it in the palm of your hand and lightly squeeze. Is it firm or soft? Firm is always better – tight, shiny, dark skin, no blemishes!” Hesitantly I would choose one from a heaping pile in the outdoor market “Like this one, Ima (mom)?” Her brow would furrow as she would shake her head “No, No! Look at the top – It’s all brown and speckled – that’s old. You want a lovely green top, sitting tightly at the crown.” As I would reach for another she would admonish “It won’t bite you know – I have yet to see an eggplant with teeth!” My Mom would then guide my hand to the approved eggplant and conclude: “See how it is light for its size? That means it is fleshy, not full of seeds yet, it is young and firm!” That lesson and others like it were part of an ongoing practical education that my mom took quite seriously.
Nowadays, when I walk through the Minneapolis Farmers’ Market, my mothers’ lessons are embedded in my seeking fingers and my sniffing nose as I choose fruits, vegetables and herbs. Though we are thousands of miles apart and cannot share our daily routines, her wisdom and many gifts enrich my life and that of my family in countless ways. I share some of it here with you and hope you enjoy my mother’s recipe for the popular eggplant recipe of Baba Ganoush.
2 medium eggplants, pricked with a fork
1/2 cup mayonnaise, (or tahini)
1 medium lemon, juiced
2 tsp. fresh minced garlic
1 Tbsp. ground cumin
1/2 cup Parsley, minced fine
Salt and pepper
- Place eggplants directly on stovetop flame, rotating every few minutes, until eggplant is charred, cooked trough and juices are bubbling out. (About 15 minutes total or so).
- Handle eggplant carefully as it will be very hot. Make an X cut at bottom of each eggplant and place in a bowl or sink upright, to drain bitter juices.
- Into a large mixing bowl, scrape the flesh of each eggplant, discarding the outer dark skin.
- Place the cooked eggplant plus the rest of the ingredients in a bowl of a food processor and pulse lightly to create a smooth and even mixture. Season the eggplant mixture with salt and pepper and taste. Cool in fridge.
- Serve as dip with crackers, pita and/or vegetables.
- Can be kept in refrigerator, covered for up to 4 days.