Eggplants, garlic, lemon juice and tahini make up this recipe for baba ghanouj. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)

Eggplants, garlic, lemon juice and tahini make up this recipe for baba ghanouj. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)

When making a good example is hard to swallow

Preparing baba ghanouj despite a dislike of eggplant

For dinner I serve my son a portion of the meal I made in the hopes he will eat it. Sometimes he does … but only very rarely.

Most nights end, after my best attempts at persuasion, with some peanut butter toast, carrots and apple slices. I tell him he will love what I made, I tell him it will taste great and will fuel his body well, I tell him how much I love the meal and how I wish he would just try it, but my pleas are always met with the dreaded proclamation, “I don’t like it!”

I will not force him to eat, and I will not make our dinner table a battleground every night — a bad relationship with food can last a lifetime and can impact basically every aspect of it, so the stakes are high, and I tread carefully. Fed is best, as they say, and so long as he is getting everything he needs, I see no problem with his limited menu for now.

However, I am getting weary of making a separate meal for him every night, and as a food-lover, I wish to share my knowledge and excitement with him and show him the world of food he has yet to experience. I decided to try and set an example and teach him a lesson about trying a new food you think you won’t like.

There are very few vegetables I dislike, and even fewer that I refuse to eat outright, and eggplant is one of them (the other is okra … yuck). So, I sought out a recipe featuring the nasty beasts. I showed him the eggplants as I washed them and told him directly that I have never liked them.

In fact, I said, I usually won’t even eat a dish that contains them, but I am making a dish I have never tried before to try to see if I can make myself like them.

Baba ghanouj is similar to hummus but is made with roasted eggplants instead of chickpeas. I used a simple recipe that would feature the flavor of the eggplants — masking the flavor would be cheating, after all. The smell made me gag as I peeled them, the spongy texture made me cringe as I cut them, and when the beige spread was finished but still warm, I tasted it to check the seasoning and winced.

I hated it.

I fixed my face to a neutral expression and covered the spread to refrigerate overnight. The next day, I made a turkey wrap with the spread and enjoyed it well enough to not lie when I told my boy that I found a way to enjoy my most hated vegetable. Hopefully he takes the lesson to heart … it wasn’t pleasant to teach.

Baba ghanouj

Ingredients:

Two large eggplants

3 cloves garlic

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

¼ cup tahini

Salt to taste

Olive oil, toasted pine nuts, and chopped fresh parsley for garnish.

Directions:

Wash the eggplants well, dry, and roast in a 375-degree oven for 30-40 minutes, until the skin is leathery and the eggplant is soft.

Allow to cool until you are able to handle them.

Cut off the top and bottom of the eggplants and peel off the skin.

Cut into pieces and place in the bowl of your food processor.

Add in the garlic, lemon juice and tahini and blend until smooth.

Taste and season with salt before transferring to a container to store in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight.

Taste before serving and season with extra salt or lemon juice if desired.

Top with the pine nuts, a drizzle of olive oil and fresh parsley.

Serve with pita chips and vegetables or use as a sandwich spread.

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