In late summer, when eggplant, tomatoes and basil are in season, one of my favorite quick dishes is something I have been calling “Basil Ghanouj.” That name, of course, is a play on the Middle Eastern classic baba ghanouj (also spelled “baba ganoush”). In the classic preparation, eggplant is roasted in a bed of coals or on a grill until the flesh is tender and the skin lightly charred. After removing the skin, the smoky-sweet eggplant flesh is mixed with various flavorings (tahini, garlic, lemon juice) to make a versatile side dish or dip. To make “basil ghanouj,” I flavor the eggplant with sauteed onion, garlic, tomato and basil.
This is my second variation on roasted eggplant — I posted an Indian-style recipe in a post titled “Vegetarian Primeval” (that was almost three years ago…it’s amazing how time flies).
Roasted Eggplant with Tomato and Basil, or “Basil Ghanouj”
3 thin Chinese, Japanese or Italian eggplant (or 1-2 large globe eggplant)
1 onion, finely chopped
Salt to taste (start with about 1 teaspoon)
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped, or pulverized in a mortar and pestle
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup chopped basil
Roast the eggplant: Rinse the eggplant. If you have a gas stove, place them directly on the burner or on a grill device with the burner heat on medium. Turn often for about 10-15 minutes, until the skin is completely black and the eggplant are soft. If you have an electric stove, preheat it to 500 F then roast the eggplant on a cookie sheet until the skin is blacken in places, about 20 minutes. After the eggplant are roasted, set them aside to cool.
When the eggplant have cooled, cut off and discard the stem, then use your fingers, a spoon, or a knife blade to scape and pull off the charred skin. Chop the eggplant coarsely. Set aside.
Cook the base: Heat some vegetable oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and salt and saute until the onion softens and gets a bit of brown around the edges. Add the garlic and stir for about 30 seconds. Next, add the tomatoes, and cook for 1 minute stirring often. Add the eggplant. Reduce the heat to medium and cook the mixture for about 5 minutes, stirring to fully mix the ingredients.
Finish and serve: Scoop into a serving bowl, then mix in the chopped basil. Sprinkle the remaining basil on top to garnish.
Random link from the archive: Negative Space in Asian Art and Cooking