Baba Ganoush and Pita Chips

As a child in Italy, my mono-cultural upbringing and a much-isolated world, made it almost impossible for me to have a taste of cuisines of different countries, even those relatively close, like the ones from the Middle Eastern region.

It was with curiosity and trepidation that many years ago I went for the first time to a Lebanese restaurant in Brussels for a Mezze feast, just to be fulgurated by an array of flavors still unknown to my palate.

Fast forward a few years, and there I was, living in Israel thanks to my husband’s job, getting a much closer look at all the amazing Middle Eastern recipes.

Baba Ganoush was one of the revelations: spelling differs a lot from one place to the other, but the main flavors stay the same. A charbroiled eggplant, almost burnt, gives the typical taste to this dish, together with Tahini, a sesame paste (or to be more fashionable: sesame butter), very nutty and creamy.

This dish has but one big secret: let the eggplant cook until it looks wasted, skin blackened and burned. Only then will the flesh be cooked, and it will have acquired the typical smoky flavor. You will open the blackened skin just to find inside an intact, whitish pulp, ready to be spooned out.

I serve Baba Ganoush as an appetizer, together with some homemade pita bread chips. This last part is not really a recipe, just my take on pita bread, that has proven quite successful with my family and friends.

Tahini has some great nutritional properties but also some downsides. It is a very ancient recipe, used in the Middle East daily as a healthy and flavorful condiment. It is rich in copper, phosphorus, iron, and selenium, and helps fight inflammation; sesame seeds are rich in phytochemicals, that help lower cholesterol and might even be useful to fight hormone related cancers. On the other hand, sesame seeds contain a very small quantity of omega-6 fatty acid. Also, sesame seeds are tree nuts, thus provoking allergies in some people.


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For 4 Servings

1 cup Carnaroli rice
1 medium onion, chopped
2-3 tablespoons of EV Olive Oil
½ glass of white table wine
1 pint chicken stock preprepared (or vegetable stock)
1 cup rinsed blueberries
1 cup roasted chestnuts or more, chopped in big pieces
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons gorgonzola cheese (optional)