I have a bad habit of buying produce just because I like the way it looks. These slender, twist-y little Japanese eggplants caught my eye at the farmer’s market. At home, I put them in a basket on the counter, and they stared at me for a few days, too pretty to just chop into coins and panfry, but not big enough to make, say, eggplant parmesan.I love baba ghanoush, but wanted something that would honor the unusual form of these eggplants, rather than roasting them down to smoky mush, like baba ghanoush recipes generally instruct.Lately, I’ve been “deconstructing” a lot of recipes. This sounds cool and trendy, but really it’s just my way of making what is usually a side dish or appetizer—in this case, a dip or spread—into something more meal-like. “Deconstructed” deviled eggs, for instance, become something much more akin to a composed salad. If you slice hardboiled eggs, dollop a garlicky aioli on the plate, and serve with watercress or arugula, it becomes something altogether different.And so it is with this dissected baba ghanoush. It has all the normal baba ghanoush ingredients, but I’d be lying if I said it tastes the same. Those slender eggplants were sliced, roasted to falling-apart smoky-sweetness, and then topped with a tahini dressing. Arranged on the plate with some slices of feta, lemon wedges, and toasted pita, it feels like you’re sitting down to some sort of Lebanese tapas.You don’t need Japanese eggplant to make this. I imagine roasting slices of eggplant, similar to what Deb does here, would work as a vehicle for the tahini dressing just as well. Just grab that eggplant from the farmstand while the gettin’s good.
Deconstructed baba ghanoush
You will need
About 10 small Japanese eggplants, sliced lengthwise (or one medium-sized more familiar cultivar of purple eggplant, sliced into 1/4- to 1/2-inch rounds)
For the tahini dressing:
1/4 cup tahini
1 clove garlic, peeled
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
Juice of one half lemon
1 tablespoon greek yogurt (optional)
2-3 slices of feta
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Arrange sliced eggplant on a parchment covered baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt. Roast for approximately 20 minutes (longer if you have thicker slices), until eggplant is tender and mottled brown and white.
While the eggplant is roasting, whirl all tahini dressing ingredients in a food processor or blender. The greek yogurt, while not a traditional baba ghanoush ingredient, gives the dressing a bit of a more creamy texture. You don’t want this to be too thin; rather, it should cling fast to a spoon if you scoop some out after blended. If it seems too thick, though, feel free to add a little more water to thin it out.
When eggplant has finished roasting, arrange on a plate with feta, lemon wedges, and pita bread. Dollop eggplant slices with tahini dressing, and garnish with parsley.