Eggplant Ga-NOOSH

Baba ga-NOOSH.

“It’s the sound that is made when the eggplant explodes,” I tell my kids.  I mean, why else wrap it so tightly in foil?

Where's the kaboom?   There was supposed to be an earth-shattering kaboom.
Where’s the kaboom? There was supposed to be an earth-shattering kaboom…

Gullible kids.  I resort to these tricks to keep them out of my new kitchen.  Sometimes, I just like it all to myself.  It’s all over once they realize that the eggplant never really…explodes.  I was only kidding after all, ’cause that’s what crazy moms do.

“Is it done yet?” they ask from the door, using it as a splatter shield.

“No.  Not yet.”  So silly.

Eggplant is neither an egg nor a plant.  Like the tomato and capsicum (bell pepper), the aubergine is a fruit of the nightshade family of plants.  It is really just a misunderstood berry.  And quite a healthy one at that.

Watching American-types shop for eggplant at the grocery is sheer entertainment, rivaled only by the choosing of a melon.  They’ll pick it up, turn it over, pat it, squeeze it, thump it — then put it down and walk away.  Wha…?  Perhaps they are considering what the heck to do with such a thing.   After all, to pay $2.50 for a single piece of fruit, you better know what you plan on doing with it.  

This little beauty is prized in the middle east, a staple in Mediterranean cooking.

Earlier this year, I planted six eggplant plants in several places in the yard.  There was nothing vested, save the $6 I spent at the nursery and the ground that I “prepped” (a/k/a/ threw some compost on) and I figured that, like the tomatoes and peppers I planted at the same time, they wouldn’t make it through the scorching summer unattended.  We expected to be gone for at least four months; it turned out to be five.  And those 100-degree days were pretty harsh in August.

Oh, I do love being wrong sometimes.

9.  From Down Low
Lavender eggplant blossoms – so pretty!

Today, I picked our very last eggplant fruit.  Since March, those six plants cranked out more than 50 beautiful little black beauties, half of which I gave away (I could only eat so much!).  On the up side, they didn’t need me.  On the down side, I wasn’t quite prepared with an aubergine recipe aresenal.  Perhaps it’s safer to say my family was tired of grilled eggplant.

Grilling or roasting on high heat (broiler or 500-degree oven) is the easiest way to serve.  I chose to grow the dark-skinned varieties because the skins contain nasunin — the “brain food” phytonutrient — and are particularly tasty to me.  The crispiness of a grilled eggplant skin is hard to beat.

Grilled Eggplant, without the grill
Grilled Eggplant, without the grill, eaten by me in one sitting.

Here are some useful tidbits on the eggplant:

  • High in potassium – regulates blood pressure and helps in proper hydration
  • High in manganese – good for the bones
  • Contains the phytonutrient nasunin – aids in several processes to fight free-radicals in the body
  • Contains nicotine – uh…can you say “addiction?”  (I can.)

I’ll admit that my absolute favorite (and naughty) way to eat eggplant is breaded and fried.  I like to do the double-dip.  That is, I dip in egg then dip in flour, then dip in egg again, and, lastly, dredge through whatever “outside crust” (pangko, stale bread, etc.) I have on hand.  First peel it and slice into 1/4-inch thick patties.  Lightly salting beforehand will help to remove the excess water; in an hour or so, you’re ready to fry.  Ethical eggs are hard to come by, so we don’t do this much anymore.

Enter baba ganouj (pronouced BA-bah ga-NOOSH).  Sal, my favorite local Lebanese chef, tells me to cook the eggplant right on the open flame, pricked with a fork and wrapped in three pieces of tin foil.  Five minutes each side, turn four times until it’s mushy.  Then, make something of a hummus out of it.

  • One large roasted, peeled eggplant
  • 2 tbsp tahini (sesame seed butter)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves of fresh garlic, pressed
  • squeeze of lemon juice, to taste
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Combine all ingredients in a food processor until smooth.  Serve with chips, pita, or bread slices.

Heaven.  No explosions in the kitchen required to get there either.

* * *

Put eggplant on your list for backyard veggies!  So easy to grow.

6 thoughts on “Eggplant Ga-NOOSH

  1. Absolutely love baba ghanoush (you can get it everywhere in Montreal — not so much in Tokyo & LA, and I miss it) — and have never even thought to make it at home. That is going to change the next time I see a nice piece of black fruit in the supermarket. Thanks for sharing.

    What little I can see of the new kitchen looks great.

    Like

    1. With my love of eggplant, I can’t believe no one told me about this seriously easy and delicious dish. I had to get the verbal how-to from possibly a bigger lover of the fruit than I — a Lebanese man who grew up on “spoiled father” (the name of the dish) — practically salivating as he instructed me on the way out of his restaurant with a portion of the stuff in my hands. You could say I was hooked. And Sal has a regular visitor to his establishment — one of the only places we can eat vegan as a family.

      So nice to have you here, Jean-François! I’m glad you’re settled back in the US. Already looking forward to your next post.

      Like

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