Babaganoush (Babaganouj)

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As the farming season comes to a close, I’ve been trying to scoop up all the veggies at the farmer’s market before they’re totally gone. Where I live, it’s prime time for eggplant – the shining star of my babaganoush recipe. Babaganoush is a delicious dip frequently served with pita bread in most Middle Eastern restaurants. If you haven’t had babaganoush before it is essentially hummus WITHOUT chickpeas and WITH eggplant. And it’s delicious (did I mention that?) Traditionally, the eggplant is grilled but I simply sliced mine up and roasted it for about 15-20 minutes. This recipe can easily be doubled for a large group of people. While even hummus has become somewhat of a common staple, this babaganoush is a creative recipe to serve for company. Side note: I always find it very difficult to tell when eggplants are ripe. If they’re overripe, they can be very bitter and who wants to eat bitter eggplant? I think the best way to tell if they’re ripe is to give them a firm but gentle squeeze and if the skin bounces back, then you’re good. But if the eggplant if soft and your fingers leave an imprint, the eggplant is likely overripe. Eeek!

Dietary info: Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free
Yield: about 2 cups
Time: 30 minutes

•1 large eggplant
•1/4 cup tahini
•1 tablespoon lemon juice
•2 tablespoons olive oil
•2 large cloves of garlic
•1 teaspoon cumin
•Salt and pepper to taste
Optional: 1 teaspoon Zaatar*
Optional: Chopped herbs, such as parsley

* Zaatar (Za’atar) is a common Middle Eastern spice blend usually consisting of oregano, sumac, coriander, sesame seeds and thyme though there are different variations.

1. Slice eggplant into 1/4 inch coins and salt. Roast for about 15-20 minutes.

2. When eggplant is done (it will have shriveled a bit) you have the tedious option of de-seeding the eggplant. I do not do this. I am lazy. I also don’t think there is anything wrong with using the seeds.

3. Throw all ingredients into a food processor and process for about 30 seconds. Assess the situation. Is it super chunky? If you want it super chunky, then cool. You’re done. If you want it to be smooth, you probably want to scrape the sides and purée it for another 30 seconds. Garnish with Zaatar, herbs of your choice or just a little olive oil. Enjoy!

Oh, and you can use it as a spread on sandwiches too!

Traditional Tzatziki

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Dietary Info: Gluten-Free

Yield: about 2- 1/2 cups

Time: 5 minutes

The other day, I was thinking about a trip I took to Greece a couple of years ago and I have been on a Mediterranean kick ever since. The food there was wonderful, the people were incredibly hospitable and the country itself was absolutely gorgeous! In Greece, tzatziki is traditionally served with gyro meat but it is also often served with pita for dipping. The cucumber makes tzatziki very refreshing and the yogurt makes for a tangy flavor. Quick and easy to make, I recommend serving this tzatziki with veggies (baby carrots and sliced peppers are great) but pita chips are yummy too!

  • 1- 1/2 cups Nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 1 large cucumber, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon dill, minced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Throw yogurt into a bowl, followed by the rest of the ingredients. Stir to combine well. Optional but recommended: refrigerate for an hour, allowing tzatziki to thicken. Serve with veggies or pita chips. Tzatziki can be refrigerated, covered, for about 3-5 days. Enjoy!

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A panoramic of Athens photographed from the Parthenon. Such a beautifully sunny day! Definitely the best trip I have ever taken.