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!

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Creamy Hummus with Homemade Pita Chips

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This hummus is way better than any store-bought hummus out there! Great for snacking, using as a spread on sandwiches or wraps or taking as an hors d’oeurve to a party. People will be very impressed that you took the time to make your own hummus when in reality, it takes less than 10 minutes. My family is Lebanese and this recipe is adapted from my mother’s hummus recipe though I have made some alterations. This hummus is delicious served with homemade pita chips, but veggies are great for dipping too. You can also use hummus as a spread on sandwiches and wraps!

Now, I’m going to let you in on a few hummus-making secrets:

1. If you have ever made hummus and it has come out pasty and thick rather than creamy, it may be because you did not boil the chickpeas. Boiling softens the chickpeas and makes for a creamier hummus!

2. Now, this step is a pain in the ass but it’s totally worth it: peel the chickpeas after boiling!

3. Many recipes call for soaking dried chickpeas overnight, but I personally think canned chickpeas work just as well.

NOW FOR THE HUMMUS RECIPE!

Servings: 4-6

Time: 10 minutes

Dietary Info: Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free

  • 1 15 oz . can of chickpeas (I use Goya Garbanzo beans)
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 small garlic cloves or one large garlic clove
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/8 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon chopped parsley for garnish

1. Drain and rinse chickpeas. Fill a small pot with water so that the pot is about half full. Bring to a boil and add chickpeas. Let boil for 20 minutes.

2. While chickpeas are boiling, chop cloves of garlic and set aside. When chickpeas are done boiling, allow to cool then peel them individually (I actually find this kind of therapeutic.

4.Add tahini and lemon juice to food processor, processing for about 15 seconds, allowing tahini to get a whipped texture. Add water and process for another 15 seconds. Then, add softened chickpeas to food processor and process for 30 seconds. Scrape sides of food processor and process for another 30 seconds. Add olive oil, garlic, cumin and paprika- process for yet another 30 seconds. Scrape sides of the processor again and process for a final 15 seconds! By now, your hummus should be pretty creamy. If it is not, scrape the sides and process a bit longer until you reach your desired creaminess! Scrape hummus out of food processor and into a serving dish with a lid. To serve, I like to make a small hole in the center then add about a tablespoon of olive oil. Garnish with chopped parsley. Hummus should stay good in the refrigerator for about a week, though it never lasts that long in my house!

FOR THE PITA CHIPS!

Servings: 4-6

Cooking time: 10-15 minutes

Dietary Info: Dairy-Free

  • 8 pita pockets (I use Middle East Bakery Whole Wheat Pita)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • Salt to taste

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Slice each pita pocket into 8 wedges. Mix olive oil and cumin in a small dish and use a brush to dab some of the mixture onto each wedge, making sure each wedge is covered with oil.

3. Place wedges in a thin layer on a cookie sheet, making sure they do not overlap then sprinkle with sea salt. Throw em’ in the oven and bake until lightly browned, about 10-15 minutes (they will begin to curl a bit). Take them out, let cool and serve with hummus!