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 or Japanese 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.
Thin eggplant of the Chinese and Japanese variety are typically less seedy than large globe eggplant.