Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Ladies and gentlemen, I've struck gold. The Baba Ghanoush (page 12) is a veritable treasure. Again, we've got something similar in the Old Country called vinete (literally: “eggplants” or “those-things-that-are-the-color-of-bruises”), but it involves babying the eggplant over an open fire and is thus done rarely and in huge batches. This spread over some soft bread was a childhood favorite of mine. There's also a regional difference involved; the real (read: Transylvanian) version involves eggplant, onions, and garlic—and enough chunk so that the eggplant seeds are left intact. Southerners taint it with mayo and cream it up too hard.
This Baba Ghanoush is like an improved southern version—tahini gives it a silky creaminess and another layer of flavor that still doesn't get in the way of that wonderful roasted aubergine taste. It's mild but full of character and in no way bland.
My Transylvanian guests enthusiastically agree. They were so excited they couldn't stop calling it vinete. When I told them I roasted the eggplant in the oven, they were surprised and impressed. Because of how involved they are to prepare, vinete are an exciting rarity in my house here in the US, usually to be had when someone makes some and sends a few jars over the ocean—no more! I'll make this again for the fam and mess around with it to suit our mood and taste. More time-consuming than your average spread, but beyond worth it.
Here's what the eggplant looked like pre-op and post-op; that is: oven. And those are slivered garlic pieces. Yes, it does smell delightful while baking. Very delightful.
This was installment 4 of 4 in our “spread of spreads” series. And this is what all the spreads looked like on the table. Yes, those are indeed little swords sticking out of the ramekins. Sword'oeuvres.
- - Ulpia, dreamer of aubergine dreams - -