What I love about Mediterranean food is that so much of it is inherently vegan. Take this Middle Eastern smoked eggplant spread. I have tried many different types of this and have not been the biggest fan, but my version of this spread is pretty perfect to me. A lot of my knowledge on getting the perfect balance of saltiness, smokiness, nuttiness and creating a well rounded spread comes from my dear friend Hanan. She is an absolute natural in the kitchen and instinctively creates the most beautifully well rounded dishes. Her speciality was baba ganoush and I would always love creating it with her.
The secret to the perfect baba ganoush is to cook the eggplant until it is done and then cook it some more. It should be deeply charred and completely deflated.
1 HOUR 20. MAKES 3 CUPS
juice 1 lemon
4 garlic cloves
6 sprigs of parsley
2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp cumin
Firstly place the oven setting on to broil. Prick the eggplants all over, this will prevent them from exploding in the oven. Place an oven sheet beneath a wire rack in the oven. Put the three eggplants under the grill and scorch on that side for 10 minutes until lovely and charred. Rotate four times.
Take the eggplant out of the oven and place on a plate covered with cling film. Leave to sweat for 15 minutes. Remove the cling film and leave cool until you are able to handle them.
Scoop out the insides and mash with a fork. Add all the other ingredients and mix well until you have a lovely thick paste.
Store in an air tight container. This will last in the fridge for 5 days.
To serve sprinkle with smoked paprika and scatter some pomegranate seeds if you have them.