As you will start to notice, I am a huge fan of Middle Eastern and Indian cuisine, not only due to the rich, spicy, and textural flavor, but also due to the many vegan options. I have been dying to make some baba ghanoush, a dip very similar to hummus but replaces chickpeas with grilled eggplant, and did not have access to a grill until recently. The eggplant came out charred to perfection, allowing me to easily remove the eggplant’s smoky entrails, which complemented the nutty flavor of the tahini and the aromatic garlic and lemon combo.
Before I go on talking about how much I love eggplant, I came across an interesting article a few weeks ago showing pictures of fruits and vegetables before we domesticated them. Here is a picture of eggplant!!! (So tiny and yellow unlike our gigantic purple modern day eggplant). More pictures and information can be viewed here.
Another fun fact: eggplants were originally named eggplant because they were first seen as small white plants, with an appearance similar to eggs. (More info here.)
From a nutrition perspective, eggplants contain high amounts of fiber, folate, potassium, and manganese, as well as vitamins C, K, B6, and other minerals and nutrients. Eggplants also contain phenols/antioxidants/flavonoids, which are protective against cancer and heart disease, specifically anthocyanins. Chlorogenic acid, another phenolic compound found in eggplants, acts as an anti-carcinogen, promotes immune health, and even lowers levels of LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol). Eggplants are low in calories (only 20 calories per a cup of 1 inch cubes), and the high fiber content promotes satiety, which is beneficial for weight loss and blood sugar stabilization, especially for those with diabetes.
This baba ghanoush recipe also has low calorie content, only 23 calories per tablespoon, and is a great appetizer or snack during the day.
Baba Ghanoush Recipe (adapted from Serious Eats):
- 1 large eggplant
- 3 medium cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
- 4 tablespoons of tahini
- 3 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 teaspoon of sea salt
- Pita chips to dip (to make your own pita chips pre-heat oven to 450 degrees F and slice up pita (I prefer fluffy/naan-like pita) into little triangles and drizzle 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil with with a dash of black pepper and salt. Bake for 10 minutes or until warm and fluffy, or longer if crispy chips are desired).
- Heat grill to medium heat and cook eggplant for 30-40 minutes, until majority of the sides are charred and the eggplant is tender and mushy.
- Place eggplant on tinfoil and set aside for 15 minutes.
- Place all ingredients into food processor. Add the slightly cooled down eggplant by scooping out the insides and disposing of the skin. Blend together all ingredients until creamy. Serve with pita chips!