When I went to make this recipe, I started by searching my cupboard for my jar of tahini. Then I read through the recipe and saw to my surprise that there was no tahini in the ingredient list. Apparently that is why the recipe title is for burnt eggplant, rather than for baba ghanoush, which some people feel must contain tahini for it to be a true baba ghanoush. I have the feeling that if you got 20 cooks from the Middle East together and asked them for their recipe for baba ghanoush, you would end up with 20 different things, but they would probably all be delicious in their own way.
This recipe is from "Jerusalem," and author Yotem Ottolenghi really wants you to burn the eggplant. I did, as my smoke detector so thoughtfully let me know. I have to say that this is the easiest baba ghanoush I've ever made, but also the noisiest. Ottolenghi actually suggests that you place the eggplants right onto the gas burner, but I felt like that would also make it the messiest. I did it under the broiler instead. Burning the eggplant makes a huge difference in the flavor. It's smokey and intense and bursting with flavor. I served it with pita bread, but you can also dip vegetables into it, or eat it as a salad as part of a meze plate. I intended to make this a couple of weeks ago when pomegranates were everywhere, but I missed that little window, so no pomegranate seeds in my eggplant. It certainly is easy to make, but it needs a bit of time, and it's best if it's made a couple of hours before serving.
Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: Up to 2 hours
Yield: About 3 cups
Burnt Eggplant with Garlic, Lemon and Pomegranate Seeds
- 4 large eggplants
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- Grated zest of 1 lemon
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 5 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 2 tablespoons chopped mint
- Seeds of 1/2 large pomegranate
- PinchSalt and freshly ground black pepper
- If you have a gas range, line the base with aluminum foil to protect it, keeping only the burners exposed. Place the eggplants directly on four separate gas burners with medium flames and roast for 15 to 18 minutes, until the skin is burnt and flaky and the flesh is soft. Use metal tongs to turn them around occasionally. Alternatively, score the eggplants with a knife in a few places, about 3/4 inch deep and place on a baking sheet under a hot broiler for about an hour. Turn them around every 20 minutes or so and continue to cook even if they burst and break.
- Remove the eggplants from the heat and allow them to cool down slightly. Once cool enough to handle, cut an opening along each eggplant and scoop out the soft flesh, dividing it with your hands into long thin strips. Discard the skin. Drain the flesh in a colander for at least an hour, preferably longer, to get rid of as much water as possible.
- Place the eggplant pulp in a medium bowl and add the garlic, lemon zest and juice, olive oil, 1/2 tsp salt, and a good grind of black pepper. Stir and allow the eggplant to marinate at room temperature for at least an hour. When you are ready to serve, mix in most of the herbs and taste for seasoning. Pile high on a serving plate, scatter on the pomegranate seeds, and garnish with the remaining herbs.