Here is a deliciously healthy addition at a holiday party. During this time of celebrations and holiday treats, sticking to a healthful eating style is made infinitely easier when there are yummy snacks to be had. I love having delectable spreads waiting in the fridge. Having something tasty and healthy on hand is key to being able to forgo the onslaught of unhealthy treats that appear this time of year.

Many cultures lay claim to the advent of this delightful concoction. Baba Ghanoush originated in the Middle East (exactly where is debated). There are many traditional versions of this dish, some with, and some without tahini (sesame seed paste), but always featuring eggplant as the star ingredient. The version I have here is definitely not traditional, but, IMHO, still delicious.

Baba ghanoush is traditionally served with pita bread, since wheat is a thing of the past for me, I prefer grain-free crackers. Here is a recipe for raw flax crackers, or I have been loving Jilz crackers, or these yucca root crackers. I also love to pair this spread with fresh pesto.

As always, use the highest quality ingredients you can. If it’s available to you, choose organic. Local and in-season also improve the flavor. I feel a little silly giving an eggplant recipe so late in the Fall, but it seems like a useful option for the holiday scene, and, if you like it, a great dish to revisit in the summer. I started making this because I would keep getting eggplants in my CSA box, and this was a great way to use them. Sadly I have discovered that I don’t do well with nightshades (potatoes, tomatoes, eggplants…) but I love this spread so much, that I have made it using zucchini, or even winter (i.e. butternut) squash.

1 Globe Eggplant (1 ½ cups when cooked)
½ cup Tahini
2 tbsp Olive Oil
1 Lemon (zest & juice)
½ tsp ground Cumin
Salt & fresh ground Pepper to taste (I usually start with ½ tsp of each)
Chopped fresh Italian Parsley *optional for garnish

Bake your Eggplant in a 350º oven for 45 – 50 minutes. Be sure to pierce your eggplant a few times, or it can burst – I’ve had this happen and it’s a pain to clean up. And put it on a baking sheet, or a piece of foil. Again this is to avoid having to clean your oven. If you are using smaller eggplants, bake for less time. You want your eggplant to be cooked through, it will look withered, and be soft to the touch. If you happen to be grilling something you can slice your eggplant into 1 ½ inch rounds, rub with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and grill till soft, about 8 minutes per side.

Cool for at least 30 minutes. Then cut in half and scrape out the flesh. Discard the peel. At this point you should have about 1 ½ cups cooked, mushy, eggplant. If you choose to get experimental and use something other than eggplant (like zucchini or squash, just sub in 1 ½ cups of whatever you want to use)

Add your Eggplant and the rest of your ingredients into your food processor; Tahini, Olive Oil, Lemon Zest, Lemon Juice, Salt, Pepper, and Cumin. Pulse a few times to mix everything together, or until your Baba Ghanoush is the consistency you like.

Serve on pita or crackers, sprinkled with chopped parsley. Enjoy!