Buttered Baba Ganoush

Buttered Baba Ganoush -(Moutabal aka, baba ganoush)  is made with aubergines, tahini, pine nuts and plenty of garlic.

Beautiful and exotic — these are two words that best describe a delicate, aubergine. They come in so many varieties. Most commonly seen are the lavender to purple varieties, but what many of us didn’t know, is that ….  Aubergines are grown around the world; yet their appearance are so different based on thier geographical locations.

Many of you might be surprised they are so exotic. Aubergines grow in a variety of locations around the world just like many other vegetables. Yes, there’s more to aubergines than the purple kind. Think about how interesting that is for a moment. In Italy, a tomato looks the same as a tomato grown in China or the United States, however– this is not true for aubergine. Africa, China, France, India, Italy, Ukraine, and the USA are a few countries that produce aubergine, and all of them come in different shapes, sizes and colors.

In Thailand, they are called, Thai Yellow Eggs and they harvest as beautiful yellow fruit that are small and literally shaped like a chicken egg.

In Cambodia they cultivate, The Cambodian Green Giant. As you might have guessed, this fruit is large with skin that’s a unique light-color with green stripes.

Another international heirloom aubergines is the Rosa Bianca variety. It is from Italy, proudly flaunting a skin in shades of lavender and also blushing pinks.

From Africa, the Goyo Kumba aubergine. A stunning variety that is unusually tall and attractive.  They can be planted for their fruits or even just as ornaments. Africa produces bright red fruit that are stunningly eye-catching.

In Brazil, aubergine grows oval and orange. This variety has very attractive fruit that changes color as it matures – from green to orange to red.

Other international varieties of aubergine include Ping Tung Long from Taiwan, Japanese White Egg from Japan, Udmalbet from India and Listada de Gandia from other areas in Italy.

Popular backyard garden varieties of aubergines are Dusky varities, which takes 60 days to mature, Epics, Black Bells and Black Magics with fruits maturing at 72 days from seed to harvest.

There are so many ways to prepare aubergine but my favorite is the smokey, rich and creamy dip– hailing from areas of Mesopotamia.

Buttered Baba Ganoush

Ingredients:

2 large aubergines, slashed with a sharp knife- lengthways 4 to 5 times

2-4 large fresh garlic cloves, peeled and cleaned

2 Tablespoons tahini paste

Juice of ½ lemon (or more to your taste)

1 Tablespoon fine quality olive oil

4 oz. unsalted butter ( or Vegan Sub)

2 Tablespoons pine nuts, toasted

1½ Tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley

2 Tablespoons fresh chives, chopped small

1 teaspoon fresh smoked paprika, for garnish

Method:

Wash, dry and lightly oil aubergines. Place on a hot, well oiled grill. Cook for 20-30 minutes, turning often until well charred and completely soft.

Cool, split them open lengthways and scrape the fleshy meat into a bowl, cutting as close to the skin as possible without taking any of the charred skin.

Place aubergine flesh in a food processor with garlic, tahini, lemon juice and olive oil Pulse. taste to adjust seasoning. (The tahini should be subtle and the lemon juice should not dominate). Season with sea salt to taste. Aubergines are like sponges and soak up as much flavor as you give them, so season well and bring out the flavors.

Place butter in a small pan and bring to a very low simmer. Use a spoon to disgard any white milky fat solids that rise to the top. Place the now, “Moutabal” in a beautiful shallow bowl and run the back of a spoon over the top in a spiral or a zig-zag formation–(  like frosting a cake).

Pour on the warmed clarified butter on top– taking care to leave white solids behind in the pan.

Garnish by sprinkling with toasted pine nuts, chopped parsley, chopped chives and dust with smoked paprika.

*Serve with Flatbreads and a variety of freshly cut raw vegetables. Also delicious on roasted meats.  

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