Make a splash with a dip in the near east this summer with three colorfully tasty, easy and healthy dips. We start with Baba Ghanouj, a fusion of roasted eggplant and tahini. Then on to Muhammara, a mix of roasted red peppers, walnuts and pomegranate. And finally, the widely popular Hummus, a blend of chickpeas and tahini.
These mezza or appetizers hail from Lebanon, Palestine, Jordan, and Syria. You might be wondering, who was Baba Ghanouj? No one. Ghanouj means to corrupt so I suppose dads everywhere should beware. The term Muhammara means to redden which is no surprise given its crimson hue. Hummus is the kicker- it is around 7,000 years old dating to ancient Egypt, seen again in ancient Greece and Persia, and then in modern Arabia. Hummus simply means chickpea or garbanzo bean and is used in dips, falafel and sauces.
You may want to dive, not dip, into these recipes. They are great party snacks, served with pita bread, crackers and olives, or as spreads on sandwiches, and make a meal onto themselves. The essential ingredients are garlic, lemon, olive oil and tahini, the bedrock of Levantine cooking. To garnish and make it pretty, use parsley, mint, paprika, olives, toasted pine nuts and pomegranate seeds. Artistic license is encouraged!
Baba Ghanouj بابا غنوج
Also called Mutabbal متبل بتنجان
1 large eggplant
3 tablespoons sesame tahini
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 pinch ground cumin
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons nonfat plain yogurt
1/2 cup parsley leaves, chopped and cleaned
salt, to taste
Preheat oven to 350°F. Cut eggplant length-wise and prick all over with a fork. Place eggplant cut-side down on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake until skin blisters and the flesh feels soft, about 40 minutes.
Cool eggplant slightly then scoop out the eggplant pulp and discard the skin. In a food processor, combine the eggplant with the tahini, garlic, lemon, cumin, salt and half the parsley. Pulse until everything is well incorporated but maintain a chunky texture. By hand, mix in the olive oil, yoghurt and remaining parsley.
Garnish with parsley and drizzle with olive oil. Serve with veggies, pita bread or crackers.
3 red bell peppers
3/4 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
1/2 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons bread crumbs
1/2 tablespoon chili powder or chili flakes, to taste
1 garlic glove, minced
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 350°F. Cut each pepper into quarters, clean and seed them. Place on lined baking sheet and roast for about 12 minutes, turning halfway. Remove peppers from oven and peel off skin. (In place of roasting the peppers yourself you may use 1 12-ounce jar roasted red bell peppers).
Combine all ingredients in a food processor. Blend until almost completely smooth, or desired texture. Place in a serving dish, drizzle with olive oil and garnish with pomegranate seeds or as desired.
Note: The addition of pomegranate is optional molasses, but it adds a tart flavor.
1 16 oz can of chickpeas or garbanzo beans
2 tablespoons liquid from can of chickpeas
4 tablespoons lemon juice, to taste
1 1/2 tablespoons tahini
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
Blend all ingredients in a food processor and sprinkle with paprika, pine nuts, and olive oil. Garnish with parsley.
Note: The authentic way, though more time intensive, is to cook the chickpeas in a pot or pressure cooker which releases a savory liquid to include in the hummus.
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