When I started to write this post, just like when I start to write any post, I asked Preston and Jeff: “What’s a funny anecdote I can use to entertain my readers?” Preston contributed, “Why don’t you just give them the recipe?” to which I stared at him for a good ten minutes while slowly rolling my eyes and scoffing–oh god, I’m turning into a blog snob–while Jeff contributed, “Why don’t you just talk about eggplant?”
Everyone in the room looked at him quizzically. Jeff continued, “Well, you know, I love eggplant. I ate eggplant today. It’s just so great. It’s purple! There are no purple vegetables. It’s like it’s not supposed to be purple. And why is it called an eggplant? You know?” We spent the next 30 minutes looking up a multitude of purple vegetables (because we’re the kind of people would actually do that), but Jeff’s at least right on the odd name front.
Anywho. I wouldn’t say I love eggplant as much as Jeff does, but I certainly like it. Eggplant parmagiana is a real winner in my book, but in my experience, that’s all you can really do with eggplants: fry ’em. Otherwise, they’re just kind of tasteless. My personal opinion. I’m sure all of y’all have buckets of eggplant recipes just waiting to ship my way; please do. But until I discovered baba ghanoush, I’ve never just gone gaga over eggplants like I do over tomatoes or anything Mexican.
Dang it!! I just remembered the anecdote I was going to use for this post! It has nothing to do with eggplant or baba ghanoush or purple vegetables. It’s about what I ate the baba ghanoush with: rosemary flatbread. So the other day I was out on a bike ride in the rich neighborhood across the street from us, and I saw an herb garden in someone’s front yard spilling over into the street. Since the plants had clearly not been trimmed in a while, I decided to do the garden-owner a favor. I got off my bike and picked a little bit of rosemary, carefully watching to make sure no one saw me, and biked with my yoinked rosemary in tow back to my apartment. So what you see in these pictures is, indeed, the product of rosemary theft. (Don’t judge me. I’m in college.)
I’ve rambled enough. What really matters is that baba ghanoush is delicious and good for you and perfect for right now, when eggplants are just starting to be in season. It has a weird name and some ingredients that may be unfamiliar, but try it out and you’ll see why it doesn’t last more than two days in our fridge. The stolen-rosemary flatbread was delicious as well, but for some reason mine didn’t turn out anything like the pictures from the recipe I followed. Hers were like white crackers, whereas mine were more dark orange-ish (like a bread crust) and (stay with me here) just like a flat bread. I expected them to be crispy and crunchy, and they turned out soft, kind of like bready tortillas. I probably didn’t roll them flat enough. But alas, they were delicious nonetheless. The rosemary flavor was perfect, and the scoopiness of the flatbread/BG combination makes it a perfect party food. Plus, I just realized that both of these recipes are 100% vegan! So with no further ado, recipes for baba ghanoush and rosemary flatbread:
Baba Ghanoush, from The Pioneer Woman. Serves 8.
3 whole medium eggplants
4 tablespoons tahini (similar to peanut butter but made with sesame seeds, found in the peanut butter or natural foods aisle)
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/4 c. lemon juice
3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1/3 c. fresh parsley, minced
Prick the surface of each eggplant several times with the tines of a fork. On the grill or under the broiler (set to high) blacken/char the eggplant for 25 minutes or so. You want the skin to be completely shriveled and dark, and the eggplant almost fall-apart tender. Just when you think it’s shriveled, let it go another five minutes. Set them aside to cool slightly. When cool, peel off skin enough to get a spoon into each eggplant and scrape out the flesh into a bowl. Try to get as much as you can, even the stuff that’s stuck to the inside of the skin. (This process is a total mess, so don’t worry.) Mash eggplant with a fork. A few large chunks are fine, but try to get it to a relatively smooth texture without being totally pureed. Add in all other ingredients, stirring and tasting before adjusting seasonings or other ingredients. Don’t undersalt! Serve with pita triangles, baguette slices, chips, crusty French bread…or with a spoon.
Crisp (or not) Rosemary Flatbread, from Smitten Kitchen. Makes 3 10-inch flatbreads.
1 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. chopped rosemary plus 2 (6-inch) sprigs
1 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 c. water
1/3 c. olive oil plus more for brushing
Flaky sea salt such as Maldon
Preheat oven to 450°F with a heavy baking sheet on rack in middle. Stir together flour, chopped rosemary, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Make a well in center, then add water and oil and gradually stir into flour with a wooden spoon until a dough forms. Knead dough gently on a work surface 4 or 5 times. Divide dough into 3 pieces and roll out 1 piece (keep remaining pieces covered with plastic wrap) on a sheet of parchment paper into a 10-inch round (shape can be rustic; dough should be thin). Lightly brush top with additional oil and scatter small clusters of rosemary leaves on top, pressing in slightly. Sprinkle with sea salt. Slide round (still on parchment) onto preheated baking sheet and bake until pale golden and browned in spots, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer flatbread (discard parchment) to a rack to cool, then make 2 more rounds (1 at a time) on fresh parchment (do not oil or salt until just before baking). Break into pieces.