Updated: Apr 30
When times are normal we go out to eat quite a bit. Charlotte has some great international cuisine and we love food from all around the world. As the "stay at home" order and quarantine deepen, we've had cravings for a lot of the foods we've missed over these past few weeks. One of those is Mediterranean, and though our personal cooking style has southern roots, we can use a lot of the flavors and ingredients from both to create a meal that satisfies the cravings for something different.
We've primarily been using ingredients from the +GROCERY part of the store, both to limit our time in big stores but also to use produce that is nearing the end of its shelf life or just don't look good enough to sell. We enjoy the challenge of these ingredients presenting themselves to us plus we don't waste food!
A couple evenings ago Dave passed on a few eggplant to us that were a bit bruised and starting to get old. We immediately thought Baba Ganoush! We love the smokey and spiced flavors flavors of the dip plus we just got a naan bread in the store that would serve well as our "pita" bites. T
he only ingredient we don't have for this at the store is tahini (we'll try and add this if we can find a supplier). Tahini is a sesame seed paste, if you don't have this you could add any nut butter including a small bit of peanut butter - this is for the creaminess so don't use too much. Unless you don't mind the flavor shifting a bit that direction - this is southern fusion after all.
To go with the baba ganoush we thought we'd also get some of the ground pork we have in stock at the store from Harmony Ridge Farms, but flavor it like kafta - typically made with ground lamb, ground beef, or a combo of the two. We love cooking with ground pork and use it instead of beef often to add a bit more fat and richness.
Ingredients found at the store:
Naan Bread and/or Pita (depends on what we have)
Since the original writing of this we've added Tahini but we've left the alternative method below in case you don't have any!
Not found at the store (but working on it!) - see above
Tahini (see above for substitute)
Parsley - we have in our garden, but you can also use dried or other similar herbs like oregano or thyme
Paprika, cumin, mustard powder - some recipes call for this, others don't. We use them all.
The deep rich flavor of baba ganoush comes from gilling or roasting the eggplant. To roast prepare the same as below but put in a pre-heated oven at 350 for 45 minutes to an hour - or until the eggplant begins to soften and collapse in on itself. We grill ours. It really instills a far smokier flavor. Plus we use the fire on the grill for the rest of this meal as well.
To prepare the eggplant cut off the ends, then cut in half lengthwise. Pour about a quarter cup of olive oil on a plate and place each half of the eggplant cut side down in the oil. Set the halves down on the skin side and sprinkle with a bit of salt, paprika, cumin and mustard powder. We added a bit of dried oregano and a few pepper flakes as well.
Place the eggplant skin side down on the grill. make sure they are in a spot that isn't too hot and won't burn the skin, this isn't a sear but a roast. If you have an upper rack, perfect! We are grilling a few other items, so these will roast for about 10 minutes before we start everything else, then the entire time we are cooking the rest. You will need to close the lid.
Next we prep the naan or pita bread. They are coated with the same seasonings and oil as the eggplant, oil brushed lightly on both sides, then the spices & herbs. Those are placed over the fire and turned until they are golden brown and you can begin to smell the nutty roasted aroma from them. About 4 or 5 minutes total but also depends on how hot your fire is. You want them just a bit crispy on the outside but you don't really want burnt pieces. Pull from the fire, cut into triangles and set aside.
To round this meal out Joey prepared the Kafta - taking 1 pound of ground pork and putting it into the food processor. To that he added a handful of parsley, a tablespoon each of paprika and cumin powder, a dash of cinnamon, pepper flakes, 1 chopped onion and a couple cloves of garlic. These were then well blended, about 5 minutes, then formed and added to the grill and seared on all sides.
When the eggplant is soft pull from the grill, scoop out the roasted flesh and remove all skin and put in the food processor. Add to this two heaping tablespoons of tahini (or one of peanut butter), the juice from one lemon, 1 teaspoon of paprika, 4 - 5 cloves of minced garlic. Blend well. Top with olive oil, a sprinkling of paprika and chopped parsley!
Pull the kafta from the grill, spread some Baba Ganoush on a piece of grilled pita and enjoy!