Laziness and lack of planning. If anyone ever asks me the source of my “culinary creativity,” I will have to admit that I owe it all to the fact that I put off cooking until the last minute and then have to break cooking rules and take shortcuts in order to get dinner on the table before bedtime. I’ve had a few disasters, such as the time I skipped pre-cooking the 2 cups of onions in a crockpot recipe and wound up with soup that tasted like organic fertilizer, but often I learn that some rules deserve to be broken. Like this one: Baba Ganoush is served cold.
One of my “I don’t feel like cooking” meals is to make my quick blender hummus and a big salad and serve it with pita bread. On this particular night, I had an eggplant I needed to use, so before making the hummus, I put the eggplant in to bake for baba ganoush. Of course, the hummus was ready long before the eggplant finished baking, so there was no time to let it cool. I picked it up with a potholder to scrape the flesh from the skin directly into the blender. After a quick blending at medium speed, I opened the blender to a burst of steam, and my husband cautioned me not to get “all hot and baba-ed.” We laughed about hot baba ganoush, but with no time to let it cool, that’s how we ate it. And as you can guess, we loved it.
I refrigerated the leftover baba, and for lunch the next day I did the unthinkable and reheated it in the microwave. Instead of stuffing it in a pita, I spread it on top and sprinkled it with red onion, sweet red peppers, and kalamata olives. I baked it just long enough to heat things up and then sprinkled it with spinach just before devouring. It was a wonderfully warm way to eat a dish I previously thought of as a summer salad food.
My basic baba ganoush recipe has evolved slightly to be spicier and quicker since I first posted it, so here’s the latest version. If you’re not a spice lover or a fan of pita bread, be sure to check out the original: Baba Ganoush Vegetable Plate.
Spicy Baba Ganoush
- 1 large eggplant about 1 1/2 pounds
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2-4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice to taste
- 1 tablespoon tahini or to taste
- 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
- ground cumin
Preheat oven to 425 F. Cut the eggplant in half lengthwise (through the stem) and place it cut side down on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking liner. Cook for about 30 minutes, until the eggplant is soft and sunken in.
Remove from the oven and let it cool just enough so that you can handle it. Holding the stem end, with a pot holder if necessary, scrape the flesh out of the skin into a blender or food processor. Add all remaining ingredients except cumin and process until it’s almost smooth. Scrape into a serving dish, sprinkle the top with cumin, and serve warm or refrigerate and serve cold.
To make pita pizzas, simply cut pita bread into wedges, spread with warm baba ganoush, and top with your favorite pizza toppings. Place on a baking sheet and bake at 400F for 5-10 minutes, until bread and toppings are hot. I sprinkled mine with sliced spinach after they came out of the oven.
Makes about 2 cups, depending on the exact size of the eggplant. Serves 4 as a main dish but more as an appetizer.