Eggplant Mutabbal Will Enthrall

We included one lone eggplant in our yarden, this year. It remains the stalwart producer in our otherwise fading collection of summer vegetables. To quote New York Times columnist, Mark Bittman, “It’s safer to label [eggplant] a food like no other, beloved and appreciated worldwide and deserving of respect, not as a meat substitute, but as a treasure in itself.” Agreed. Eggplant is pretty fabulous!

One of our favorite ways to enjoy eggplant is one of the easiest, the eggplant dip most Americans know as baba ganoush. However, what most people call Baba ganoush is actually “mutabbal.” True Arabic baba ganoush is a dish of cooked eggplant mixed with onions, tomatoes, olive oil, while muttabbal is made with eggplant, sesame, garlic, lemon, and frequently cumin.

Both are typically served with toasted naan or pita triangles. Whatever you may call it, this is an incredibly tasty spread that can be made in advance and improves if made a day or two in advance.

1 large eggplant
1 clove of garlic
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon sesame oil
½ teaspoon cumin powder
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place the eggplant on a cookie sheet. The eggplant will ooze a bit so you should consider place it on aluminum foil. Bake for about an hour.

Remove the eggplant from the oven and let it cool. Once cooled, remove the stem and peel. The outer skin should slide off the flesh fairly easily. Cut the skinned eggplant in pieces, put in a bowl and mash them with a fork. Add the mashed eggplant, lemon juice, oils, and cumin and mash again with a fork until it's mixed well. If you prefer the dip to be more smooth, you can blitz all the ingredients in a food processor.

Taste the dip and add salt and pepper accordingly.  Garnish the mutabbal with the chopped parsley and serve with pita chips, toasted naan or crudité.