Ottolenghi’s zucchini ‘baba ghanoush’

31.8.2016

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Ottolenghi's zucchini 'baba ghanoush' - a summery twist to the traditional eggplant dip

Ottolenghi's zucchini 'baba ghanoush' - a summery twist to the traditional eggplant dip

Ottolenghi's zucchini 'baba ghanoush' - a summery twist to the traditional eggplant dip

Ottolenghi's zucchini 'baba ghanoush' - a summery twist to the traditional eggplant dip

Ottolenghi's zucchini 'baba ghanoush' - a summery twist to the traditional eggplant dip

Let me say this to start: Yotam Ottolenghi is one of my favourite cookbook authors. He creates truly special dishes that are almost always a delight to eat, and pairs together flavours and ingredients that it never would have occurred to me to try.

That being said, my god, the man in a pain in my ass.

Anyone who’s ever tried to cook his recipes will be familiar with hair-tearing frustrations that can sometimes (see: often) ensue. The litany of complaints includes having to seek out obscure ingredient after even-more-obscure ingredient, rigid specifications for vegetable slicing (nothing is ever just chopped; it’s cut to 1.678987645cm square cubes), dirtying every single dish in your house to create a meal, and the tendency to make things complicated when they could have easily been simple.

Case in point: this zucchini ‘baba ghanoush.’ A friend of mine brought it to a picnic recently and it was so damn good that I immediately dreamed of making it myself at home. But do you think this man just allows you to broil some zuchs, throw on some yoghurt, and call it a day? No. You’ve got to make a custard with goat milk yoghurt and two tablespoons of Roquefort (not to mention a whipped egg). And are you just going to top it with some toasted seeds? No, my friend, you’ve got to fry your pine nuts in butter, and then toss those with chili flakes, lemon juice, and finish the whole thing of with some za’atar — which you forgot to purchase at the store, so you had to make that from scratch too.

And just when you think Why in god’s name am I doing this for some dip? Couldn’t I just buy hummus at the grocery store like a normal person?, you spoon some onto a wedge of warm pita, and all of the curses you’d been muttering under your breath (some of which might have potentially involved strangling the cookbook author for leaving you with a bunch of uneaten, expensive-as-fuck Roquefort because what recipe calls for just two tablespoons of the stuff?! and it turns out you’re not really a blue cheese person and now there’s going to be so much of this offensive fermented dairy leftover in your fridge), suddenly vanish.

Because this ridiculous, gussied-up dip is actually fantastic. It’s smoky and garlicky and buttery and perfect.

You win again, Ottolenghi, you win again.

Ottolenghi’s zucchini ‘baba ghanoush’

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Serving Size: serves 4 as a starter

Adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi's cookbook Plenty More

Ingredients

  • 5 large zucchini (about 2 3/4 lb/ 1.2 kg)
  • 1/3 cup/ 80g goat’s milk yogurt
  • 2 tbsp/ 15g Roquefort, coarsely grated
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tbsp/ 15 g unsalted butter
  • 2 1/2 tbsp/ 20 g pine nuts
  • a pinch of chile flakes
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 large clove garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp za’atar, to finish
  • salt and black pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat the broiler. Place the zucchini on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil and broil for about 45 minutes, turning once or twice during the cooking, until the skin crisps and browns nicely. Remove from the oven and, once cool enough to handle, peel off the zucchini skin and discard it. Set the flesh aside in a colander, and mash around with a fork until it's loosely pureed. Allow to drain for 10-20 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a small sauté pan, melt the butter with the pine nuts over medium-low heat and cook, stirring often, for 3 to 4 minutes, until the nuts turn golden brown. Transfer to a small bowl. Stir in the chile flakes and lemon juice and set aside.
  3. Using the same pan you just used for the pine nuts, combine the yoghurt with the Roquefort and egg. Heat very gently for about 3 minutes, stirring often (otherwise the egg will cook, and you'll get a lumpy mass). You want the yoghurt to heat through but not quite reach the simmering point.
  4. To serve, put the zucchini in a bowl and add the garlic, a scant 1/2 teaspoon salt, and a good grind of black pepper. Mash everything together with a fork and then spread the mixture out on a serving platter. Spoon the yogurt sauce on top, followed by the pine nuts and their butter sauce. Finish with a sprinkle of za’atar and serve right away.
  5. Best consumed warm right after it's made, but it'll keep in a container in the fridge for several days.
http://toughcookieblog.com/ottolenghis-zucchini-baba-ghanoush/

xo,

A

(p.s. I’m headed off to Italy for the month, dear readers, and my posts are going to have been scheduled in advance, so if my response time for the comments, etc. is poor, sorry! I’ll be back at it in earnest in October.)

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10 Responses to “Ottolenghi’s zucchini ‘baba ghanoush’”

  1. Mimi September 4, 2016 at 9:26 AM #

    I’m still belly laughing! I just wrote about Yotam. I was slow to get on his cookbook bandwagon because I’m just stubborn that way. In all the years my daughter lived in London I refused to go to his restaurant until the month she moved back to the states (it was fabulous.) My post from back then was called “The day I met Yotam Ottolenghi” – it wasn’t him, it was his manager. In any case, I just finally went through his cookbooks that I have finally collected and chose a recipe to make for a future post. The guy definitely knows how to make ingredients shine, but I definitely get your point!!! Great post.

  2. Sean September 1, 2016 at 11:51 AM #

    Ahhh Alanna. Thanks for making me laugh. I’m always torn on these types of recipes too (and to be honest, I’m a little guilty of developing some of them, but I always try to offer substitutions and variations). On the one hand, you know it’s been carefully and expertly crafted. On the other hand, the level of specificity induces a lot of eye-rolling, cursing, and sticker-shock at the grocery store. But man… when the results are something like this… I understand why we keep coming back, over and over again.

  3. Samantha @mykitchenlove August 31, 2016 at 11:15 PM #

    LOL! We reviewed “Plenty” for my cookbook club and 15 people gave it a not so good rating. Everything was delicious, but was heavy on the fat (oil/butter … which I adore, don’t get me wrong, but 10 tbsp in a tofu dish is extreme) and there were way too many obscure ingredients for the novice cook. His shashuka makes me weak in the knees however. Enjoy your trip to Italy!

  4. Marie August 31, 2016 at 7:50 PM #

    Your post made me laugh out loud! My personal Ottolenghi pet peeve is the sheer amount of herbs he uses in most recipes. I admit I once bought $15 worth of basil during winter just to make one of his recipes! I agree this wasn’t a clever choice on my part–but I couldn’t wait until summer. Some of his recipes, you just gotta make them NOW. And you’re never disappointed either. He wins every time indeed.

  5. Justine @ JustineCelina.com August 31, 2016 at 3:54 PM #

    Haha, your commentary on the difficultly of the original recipe cracks me up. It DOES look amazing though, and I can definitely get on board with simpler recipes that are just as tasty so I appreciate your rendition. Lovely work, Alanna! And enjoy Italy! Will you be doing any kind of recap posts or posting to social media as you go?

  6. Tiffany Mayer August 31, 2016 at 3:22 PM #

    This sounds worth the work. I’m reaching my threshold on zucchini bread, so this is a great addition to my ways of using that ubiquitous summer squash. Got to remember to buy some za’atar though.

  7. Sofia Eydelman August 31, 2016 at 2:51 PM #

    I blame Mr. Ottelenghi for my overflowing pantry and the more you cook from his books the more you have to just keep on cooking… what else are you going to do with all the random stuff? You may be out of luck with the roquefort, though…I don’t remember many of his recipes calling for it. I was eyeing this dip last summer and decided to do a knock-off, my own improvisation of the zucchini baba-ganoush idea, which turned out barely edible. I knew better than to blame him for that one, it’s all in the details of course :) Thanks for the laughs and for sharing your rave review of the (real) recipe. I may just have to go for it again, details and all.

  8. Janice August 31, 2016 at 1:33 PM #

    This makes me laugh so much! Last summer, I was cooking my way through Plenty More, and making lunch somehow turned into a 3 hour affair more than once. Hah! Ain’t nobody got time for that, and yet, it was so worth it! The most annoying recipe to make that I attempted, by far, was the rice salad: it called for 3 or 4 different grains, and of course, each grain had a different cooking method. So I had multiple burners going just to get the grains cooked. Ridiculous! My fave recipe to make, and possibly the simplest one from Ottolenghi, is his burnt eggplant dip with pomegranate molasses. That dip is KILLER! And it’s not so difficult to put together.
    I haven’t tried his zucchini babaganoush, and I’m now wondering if this would be a good place to use up some of the overgrown zucchinis a friend gave me!

    • toughcookie August 31, 2016 at 1:54 PM #

      Janice, I also tried making that EXACT grain salad, but when I saw the number of pots needed, I was like “NO, YOTAM. JUST NO.” and I made it, but exclusively with a wild rice blend. Because I think he forgets that we don’t all have kitchens full of eager stagiaires waiting to wash dishes (if only!).

      Good to know about the eggplant dip, though. I’ll add it to my list! Thanks for your thoughtful comment, as always! xoxo

  9. Ayngelina Brogan August 31, 2016 at 1:32 PM #

    I made this and can confirm it’s an awesome recipe.