I have a serious crush on tahini – it can be a little intense at times. Any excuse to use it, and I am GAME. Along with chickpeas, tahini is the base of hummus – so unless you haven’t had hummus before, you’ve all tried it. Tahini is simply ground-up toasted sesame seeds. It’s a thick rich paste that can be eaten raw, used as a base for other foods or even turned into a sauce with grated garlic, salt, lemon and water. As a great source of protein with a delicious nutty, bitter flavor, tahini complements most any dish.
I cook in a “new” Middle Eastern cuisine style – or at least, that’s what I like to call it. Because no matter where I travel to in the world and the corresponding growing group of global foods I experiment with, I always return to Middle Eastern classics. They’re healthy, rich in flavor, and especially flexible for reinvention with new flavors and techniques.
I first learned this eggplant baladi dish in a restaurant I worked at when I was living in Tel-Aviv. It’s a very easy, yet original dish – like a fancy baba ganoush. And you can dress it how you like, but this particular combination of flavors is a personal favorite. Though I also like to top it with creamy feta, garlic, mint and hazelnuts. The options are actually endless and once you try it, I’m sure you’ll get inspired to make your own unique variations at home.
- 2 eggplants
- 3 tblsp whole plain yogurt
- 1 lemon
- 2 tblsp toasted pine nuts
- 1 1/2 tblsp pomegranate molasses
- 1/4 cup pomegranate seeds
- Extra virgin olive oil
- tahini sauce (recipe underneath)
- salt to taste
- 1 handful fresh herbs (an assortment of whatever you like: cilantro, parsley, basil, mint, etc.)
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
- Score the skin of the eggplant all over. Place on a baking tray and in the oven. Roast for 30-40 minutes until the skin is black and the eggplant has deflated a little. The meat inside gets steamed within the skin and because you are burning the outside, the meat gets a nice smokey flavor. Remove from the oven and let cool.
- Make the tahini sauce while it’s cooling *recipe at the bottom of the post*
- Assemble- Peel the skin off of the eggplant, but keep the top part on. Lay the eggplant on a plate. Sprinkle with salt. Drizzle tahini sauce all across the eggplant, then drizzle yogurt. Place the herbs on top and drizzle olive oil and lemon juice all over. Season with salt and sprinkle pomegranate and pine nuts on top.
- To finish – drizzle pomegranate molasses and extra virgin olive oil all over. Serve with flatbread, focaccia, roasted veg or roasted meat.
- ½ cup good quality raw tahini
- ½ lemon, squeezed
- 1 garlic clove, grated
- kosher salt to taste
- ¼ cup water – or until the tahini is smooth
1. In a bowl, combine tahini, salt, garlic, lemon juice and water and mix together. The sauce will get to a weird thick consistency – not to fear, this always happens. Keep adding water until it smooths out and becomes a lighter color. Tahini with the perfect consistency can fall throw the tines of your fork – but not too easily. Check for seasoning, you may need more salt or lemon juice.