Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Moutabal — A Smoky Aubergine Dip

If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I’ve been ranting about the World Cup and raving about the freshly-made baba ganoush I picked up from Moustache Pitza in NYC’s West Village. Priorities, priorities. Truth be told, Moutabal — the Lebanese equivilant of baba ganoush — isn’t a particularly complicated recipe; it just requires time enough for roasting the eggplants to the point of perfection. Perfection, in this case, being a charred skin that lends itself to the dish’s signature smoky flavor.

Belonging to the nightshade family of vegetables, eggplant is chock full of vitamins and minerals, including essential phytonutrients, antioxidants, and brain-boosting flavonoids. Coupled with extra virgin olive oil (always a winner), freshly chopped garlic, tahini, and lemon juice, this dish is great with homemade whole-wheat pita chips, especially when you just can’t seem to look another can of chickpeas in the eyes.


2 large eggplants (Look for those that are deep purple in color, firm but yielding slightly when squeezed, and avoid those with any tarnished spots or scars)

3 tbsp tahini (sesame seed paste)

3 tbsp freshly-squeezed lemon juice

2 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed

2 tsp kosher salt

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, for garnish

Paprika, for garnish

Place eggplants over an open flame, be it an indoor stove top or an outdoor grill, and roast evenly until skin has become black and cracking. Once eggplants are sufficiently charred, wrap in aluminum foil and set aside to cool. Alternately, you can bake the eggplants in an oven set to 375°F for 20 to 30 minutes or until they have become completely soft.

Once they are cool enough to handle, carefully peel off the charred skin. In a food processor, add eggplant pulp, tahini, lemon juice, garlic, and salt, and pulse until well blended. Taste and adjust for salt, tahini, and lemon juice. Chill completely before serving, adding paprika and olive oil at the last minute. Not feeling the paprika? Try substituting with fresh pomegranate seeds (when in season) for a bright pop of color and a sweet crunch.

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