BABA GHANOUJ (Mediterranean eggplant spread, enough for 15 to 20 as hors d’oeuvres)
2 large eggplants (about 2 pounds each)
3 garlic cloves, minced then mashed to a paste with a little salt
¼ cup tahini
¼ cup lemon juice
2 teaspoons cumin
a large pinch cayenne pepper, or to taste
1 cup peeled, chopped tomatoes
1 cup green and/or red peppers, diced fine
8 scallions, sliced
¼ cup chopped parsley
2 teaspoons salt
pita toasts to accompany
1. Preheat the oven to 400*. Spear the eggplants several times with a knife so that they will not explode in the oven. Bake them for 25 to 35 minutes, or until a knife goes through them with no resistance.
2. Slice the eggplants in half. With a spoon, scoop the flesh from the skin into a sieve (This is easiest to do while the eggplants are still hot. Wear rubber gloves). Set in the sink to drain for 30 minutes, then either mash the eggplants in a bowl with a fork for a chunky texture or puree the eggplants in a food processor for a smooth consistency.
3. When the puree has cooled, stir in all the remaining ingredients, reserving a little parsley and diced peppers for garnish. Taste for salt, and add more if necessary. Serve with pita toasts and leaves of curly endive or chicory.