Baba Ganoush is a Middle Eastern dish of mashed aubergine mixed with seasonings, which makes a lovely dip for sharing. It is eaten cold scooped up with strips of warm pitta or flat bread and, or, vegetable sticks.
The dark purple, shiny aubergine is technically a fruit (a berry to be precise) of the nightshade family – the same as tomatoes, potatoes and peppers. It is native to South East Asia but is now grown worldwide; indeed many a UK greenhouse has a good crop of aubergines this year! There are different varieties large and small, purple to white, the smaller ones giving their other name of eggplant.
Aubergines are an excellent source of dietary fibre, low in fat and contain vitamins B1, B6, potassium, magnesium, copper, manganese and antioxidants.
The basis of the dish is to cook the aubergines until they are soft, using a high heat. They already have a smokiness to their flavour and to develop this taste a period of time spent in the hottest part of the AGA Roasting Oven is required – sometimes I first char the skin on the Boiling Plate, donning AGA gauntlets and using a pair of long tongs, not a job to be undertaken without windows being open!!
For cooking the aubergines a shallow baking tray is the best piece of cookware to use, the half size Hard Anodised Baking Tray lined with Bake-O-Glide fits the job. Being a shallow tray means the heat gets to more surface area of the aubergines, compared to a deeper tin. The tray can be slid directly onto the runners, either the top or second runners down in the Roasting Oven. Being manufactured from aluminium the baking tray is an excellent conductor of heat, the hard anodised finish makes it scratch resistant and extremely durable. Lining the tin with Bake-O-Glide, (the non-stick, reusable, easy to clean liner) means any juices escaping from the aubergines do not burn onto the tray making cleaning up so much easier.
Aubergines and cookware Bake-O-Glide lined tray
BABA GANOUSH – AUBERGINE DIP
1 kg (2 lb 4 oz) aubergines (about 3 or 4 medium sized)
1 small lemon, grated zest and juice
2 tbsp tahini (sesame seed paste)
3 spring onions, finely chopped
2 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
Salt and black pepper
Vegetable sticks, crudites (optional)
Wash and dry the aubergines and puncture with a fork. Place them onto an AGA Hard Anodised Baking Tray
2, 3, 4 and 5 oven AGA: Slide the baking tray onto the top set of runners in the Roasting Oven. Cook until soft, around 35-45 minutes dependent upon size, turning over once.
When cool enough to handle, mash the aubergine flesh with the lemon zest and juice and a little olive oil. Then add the tahini, onion, parsley and garlic. Mix well and check for seasoning. Place into a serving dish and garnish with a drizzle of olive oil.
Serve with pitta bread. Heat the pitta bread in the Roasting Oven for 4 minutes and cut into strips.
Rayburn cooking: Roast the aubergines in the Main Oven at 200-220ºC (400-425ºF), Gas Mark 6-7 until soft.
Conventional cooking: Roast the aubergines in the oven at 200-220ºC (400-425ºF), fan oven 180-200ºC, Gas Mark 6-7 until soft.
Garnished with rose petals