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Fresh Leeks Blog: A Journey of Culinary Delights

Baba Ghanoush Recipe: A Tribute to Love and Flavor on My Anniversary


Image of baba ghanoush on a plate next to a heart cutout on a table

As I write this blog post, I find myself both excited and reflective. Today, Sept. 19, 2023, the day this new blog post publishes is my 14th wedding 💍 anniversary! ❤️‍🎉🍾🥂 A day of celebration and gratitude for the wonderful journey my wife and I have embarked upon together thus far. In honor of her on this special occasion, I want to share with you one of her favorite appetizer dip recipes, baba ghanoush.

Image of eggplant growing in this year's garden
Eggplant growing in this year's garden

The main ingredient in baba ghanoush, eggplant 🍆, with its vibrant, purple skin, is best harvested in the late summer, when eggplants reach their peak flavor — just in time to be transformed into this dish that resonates with the changing of the seasons. Its smoky, earthy notes are reminiscent of bonfires and fallen leaves with a freshness of the lingering summer garden harvests.


Before we delve into how to make baba ghanoush, let's take a moment to appreciate the history and origin of this timeless dish.


Unearthing the Roots of Baba Ghanoush

Baba ghanoush, also known as "baba ganoush" or "baba ghanouj," originates from the Levant region, which encompasses modern-day Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Palestine, sometime around the 13th century. This dish has since become a cherished part of Middle Eastern cuisine, finding its way onto tables around the world from Lebanon and Greece to Kansas City, Kansas.


The name "baba ghanoush" has roots in Arabic, where 'baba' means father or dear one, and 'ghanoush' means spoiled or pampered. While the exact origin of its funny name varies from a royal harem drama story to Syrian folklores and simple childhood learnings, the Encyclopedia for Jewish Food states that it's not known whether "baba" refers to an actual parent indulged by this special treat or to the eggplant 🍆, which is considered the most important "big daddy" of vegetables. 👀


The basic ingredients of the dish - eggplant, tahini, garlic, lemon juice and olive oil - reflect the simplicity and elegance of Middle Eastern cuisine. However, baba ghanoush uses a special cooking method for the eggplants that imparts the distinctive smoky flavor that is the hallmark of the dish. The eggplants are prepared by grilling or roasting eggplants until the flesh is tender and its skin is charred.


Now, that I've shared its origin and special cooking method for the eggplants, let's craft some baba ghanoush...🎶 in the name of LOVE! 🎶 😂 Sorry. I couldn't help myself.

Image of Fresh Leeks' baba ghanoush recipe ingredients

Ingredients:

2 large eggplants 🍆🍆

2 cloves garlic, minced 🧄

1/4 cup tahini (sesame paste)

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 🍋

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for garnish

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

Salt, to taste 🧂

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Image of Fresh Leeks' eggplant from 2023 garden
Some eggplant from 2023 garden

Image of Baba Ghanoush Fresh Leeks instructions Step 1
Step 1

Instructions:

1. Preheat your grill to medium-high heat. Once ready, place the eggplants directly on the grill grates and cook for about 20-25 minutes ⏲, turning occasionally, until the skin is charred and the flesh is soft.


2. Remove the eggplants from the grill and let them cool for a few minutes. Once cooled, peel off the charred skin and discard.



Image of Fresh Leeks Baba Ghanoush instructions Step 3
Step 3

3. Place the eggplant flesh in a colander or on a grate above a sheet pan to allow for excess moisture to drain.


4. In a food processor, combine the eggplant, minced garlic, tahini, lemon juice, olive oil, ground cumin, salt, and black pepper. Blend until the mixture is smooth and well-incorporated.






5. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Add more lemon juice or salt to suit your preference.


6. Transfer the baba ghanoush to a serving bowl and drizzle with your favorite extra virgin olive oil.


7. Serve with warm pita bread, sliced vegetables, or your favorite crackers, toasts, and pretzels. 🫓🥕🥒🍞🥨


*To take baba ghanoush to the next level or for a pop of color around the holidays, sprinkle chopped fresh parsley and/or some pomegranate seeds on top!

Baba Ghanoush with pita bread on a plate
Baba Ghanoush 🤤

A Token of Appreciation

Chef Lee and his wife walking
Fourteen years ago today!

As I finish writing this blog post, sharing this baba ghanoush recipe in honor of my wife and our 14 year wedding anniversary, I am reminded of the years of love and support that my wife has poured into our journey together. This dish, with its nuanced flavors and rich history, serves as a small token of my appreciation for her unwavering presence (23 years total!) and support in my life, including this past year in my decision to launch Fresh Leeks — and this blog! 🙏🏻


I hope this favorite recipe of hers finds a special place in your hearts and on your tables. Here's to love, to flavor, and to the beautiful journey that lies ahead.


With love and gratitude,

Chef Lee


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