There are a lot of reasons why I love my job. I could go on and on for minutes. Maybe an hour. Or two. I definitely have a long list of the gratitude I feel. I love my coworkers. I love (most) of the customers. But I’d have to say, one of the greatest perks of working at a grocery store is FREE FOOD. Expired food. Blemished produce. Opened packages. You name it. Apples with bruises? Just chop off the brown spots — it’s still sweet and crispy. A wilted bunch of basil? I’ll make some pesto, thanks. Expired packages of perfectly fine and healthy-looking spinach? I’m set on my salads and greens for the week. IT’S INCREDIBLE. Produce gets picked over all the time for any “imperfections” and I (along with my coworkers) reap all the benefits. I actually scored a carton of wild mushrooms the other day (typically $8) and made a ragout over polenta (I kind of followed this recipe). I often score a lot of eggplant also but most of the time I forget about it in my fridge and before I know it, it’s a big blob of purple sliminess at the bottom of my produce bin. Except this time I was able to combat that. It was just one of those things that came to me randomly like a bolt of lightening one day at school and I was thinking to myself, “I know! I’ll make baba ghanoush!” So that’s how it all happened. I cracked open Mollie Katzen’s Moosewood Cookbook and put that eggplant to good use. And I also got some freshly baked naan bread from the farmers market earlier that day to eat with it. Ah-maazing. You can pretty much use this for anything. Sandwich spreads, dipping with fresh vegetables, crackers… I’ll definitely be making this many more times in the future.
Baba Ganouj (“Ga-NOOSH”)
Takes approximately 40 minutes to prepare, yields 4 to 6 servings
a little oil, for the baking sheet
1 medium eggplant (about 7-inches)
2 medium cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup sesame tahini
1/2 cup firm plain yogurt (optional)
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. salt
black pepper and cayenne, to taste
olive oil for garnish
freshly minced parsley for garnish (and for putting into processor as well, if you’d like)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil a baking sheet.
2. Slice the eggplant in half lengthwise, and place face-down on the baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes or until very tender. Cool until it’s comfortable to handle.
3. Scoop out the eggplant pulp, and discard the skin. Place the pulp in a food processor or blender, and add the garlic, lemon juice, tahini, yogurt (if using), cumin, and salt. Puree until smooth.
4. Transfer to an attractive serving dish, cover tightly, and chill. Drizzle the top with a little olive oil and sprinkle with minced parsley just before serving.