Recipe: Baba Ghanouj Focaccia Sandwich
Coffee: Turkish coffee with the Ethiopia – Gera
Serves: For two sandwiches with baba to spare (about 4 cups)
The baba itself:
2 medium to large eggplants, heavy with moisture
1 garlic clove
Juice of 1 lemon or 2 limes
Heaping Tablespoon of tahini
To taste – salt
Condiments and add ons:
6 anchovies fillets (optional), chopped fine or pulverized
Arugula (the spicier the better)
Fresh pressed olive oil (for balancing bitterness)
Black pepper (and salt, if not using anchovies)
Focaccia, the individual sizes work nice, toasted if desired
When it comes to roasting eggplant, you have 3 main options.
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Split the eggplant top to bottom, and deeply score the flesh in a crosshatch pattern. Rub olive oil over the cut side of the eggplant, season with salt and pepper, and then place cut side down on a sheet tray lined with aluminum foil. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour or until completely tender. Remove from the oven, and allow to cool until easy to handle.
Often I will make this in the wood-burning oven, and then I put the eggplants cut side down on a baking rack so the flesh picks up some extra smokiness. The fire has to be low so they will cook through without becoming completely scorched, but you do want the skin to get a little char on it too.
Leave them whole, and rub all over the outside (lightly) with vegetable oil. Char well on all sides over medium intensity coals/fire. Place in a large bowl, and cover with plastic film to steam through (hard to cook all the way through with this “direct heat” method – the steaming completes the job) until cool. When you peel off the charred skin, little bits and pieces will stay with the flesh, which is no problem. It beefs up the specific flavor the cooking method provides.
With any of the three methods, scoop the flesh into a colander, and let the excess water drain out for a bit.
Add the garlic and citrus juice to a food processor, and whiz it up with a good pinch of salt. Do this while the eggplant is roasting so the raw garlic has a chance to sit in the acid for a while which will remove some of its bite. Add the eggplant meat into the food processor, then add tahini, and pulse until finely chopped or to desired smoothness. Season with salt to taste.
Spread the anchovies on the top half of the focaccia. This might weird some people out, but think of anchovies as an integral part of the sandwich and not as an individual item. You wouldn’t take a spoonful of baking powder happily either, but just because you wouldn’t eat it alone, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t go in the biscuit mix.
Build the sandwiches with a generous scoop of baba ghanouj, then layer with arugula, sliced tomato, a drizzle of olive oil, and fresh cracked black pepper. Season with a little sea salt here too if not using the anchovies.