I love to eat. Because I love to eat, I exercise, sometimes a lot. If I didn’t exercise – a lot – I would be as big as a house. True story. I don’t love to eat just any food, I love to eat good food. Thanks to my mom I learned to cook at her imaginary apron strings (aprons were definitely not part of my mom’s regular wardrobe). This learned skill has become a very important part of my life, because since I turned vegetarian at the age of 20, my diet has been different and getting more different with each passing year.
Growing up, Portland was not quite the “foodie town” that it currently is. But neither was it a food desert. Then I moved to San Francisco. Wow! Talk about Food Oasis! Even in the late ’80s everything seemed possible. My palate expanded along with my horizons, and my cooking grew more and more diverse.
One of the most dramatic cultural shocks moving to Mexico was the food. Sure, I love Mexican food and I’ve been eating San Francisco food logs (burritos) since the day after arriving in that beautiful city. Now, it seems, it is all Mexican all the time, even here in Todos Santos which is known for its great restaurants. We have two great Italian restaurants and one can find an amazing cappuccino doble in numerous cafes. We have a Chinese restaurant which I would not dare set foot in and a Asian fusion restaurant, of which I have heard good things. France is also represented, as is Japan in the form of sushi. But the majority of choices are Mexican, and finding exotic ingredients like mushrooms, tahini, sourdough bread, or rice noodles is like a treasure hunt where they forgot to hide the treasures.
My new diet, the Lyme Disease Diet, takes everything to a new level of difficult. No longer can I gorge on my go to comfort food of red wine, sourdough bread, and cambazola cheese. Nor can I drown my sorrows in a big fat piece of double chocolate cake. I can’t even celebrate a gnarly three hour trail run with a super duper double hot fudge sundae with extra whipping cream! Nope. I spent a lot of money and suffered through a month of living with a needle in my vein to kick my Pinche F’ing Lyme Disease and I refuse to go back. So now, with the rare exception, I live gluten, sugar, dairy, and alcohol free, keeping caffeine and fruit to a bare necessity minimum.
Happily, I discovered a new great passion – gardening. Thank goodness, because organic vegetables are something I can eat with abandon. I’ve also discovered that mango purée is an amazing sugar substitute. Thank goodness again because I have 27 mango trees and come August I will have one-third of an acre littered with rotting mangos, and even more in my trees ready to drop and rot. Mango is even better than sugar once you grow accustomed to the difference. But there are times when old cravings rare their ugly head and my taste buds yearn for my go-to comfort food. It is times like these when I become very creative.
Today is one of those days. Baba Ganoush was in my head and I could not shake it. My garden is bursting with eggplant and parsley, but tahini is an elusive treasure. I’ve tried making my own with sesame seeds, but the results were less than stellar. I love my immersion blender, but it is no Cuisinart Food Processor. Off to the interwebs I went, in search of an alternative. One of my first hits was an Eggplant Caramelised Onion Dip. Caramelised onions are akin to dying and going to heaven in my opinion, so I figured there was no way to go wrong with this recipe. I whipped it up and it was delicious – both with and without yogurt. Yogurt is one of those dairy items that I am allowed to eat, the good of the probiotics outweigh the bad of the lactose, gracias adios, because it is much more delicious with the addition of yogurt, preferably full-fat.
So, without further ado, here is your recipe of the day.
Persian Eggplant Carmelised Onion Dip
1 large globe eggplant
1 large yellow onion or sweet onion, thinly sliced and diced
5-10 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
2 Tbs olive oil
1/2 tsp sea salt
Pepper to taste
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
1/4 – 1/2 cup parsley, finely chopped
1/4 cup plain yogurt
Preheat oven to 375º.
Generously grease a 9 X 13″ pan or cooking sheet. Cut eggplant in half, place face down in pan, poke skin with a sharp knife. Put in the hot oven for 45 minutes to an hour, or until a knife can be inserted with no resistance. Once the eggplant is cooked and cool enough to handle, peel it and either process with a food processor, immersion blender, or fork until smooth.
While the eggplant is roasting, add 1 Tbs of oil, onions, and salt to a frying pan, cook over your lowest heat until very soft and starting to brown. Stir frequently.
Combine the onions and eggplant, season to taste with salt, pepper, parsley, and cayenne pepper.
If you are serving immediately to a group of people, mix in the yogurt. If you plan on enjoying this all to yourself, add the yogurt to your single serving portion.
Enjoy with pita bread, vegetables, or your favourite dipping tool. Fingers are just fine in my household but my current go to are Sinaloa Style totopos.
This can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to one week. But the chances of it lasting that long are slim to none. In fact, I usually double the recipe so I have enough to survive the week.