I can't believe that it is already the end of August. The summer just flew by for me, I have no idea where it went. Has yours been the same? I didn't spend one day on the beach or go to Shakespeare in the park like I always do, which leaves me feeling downright sad. I always feel this urgency at the August to accomplish as many summery things as possible before the warm weather fades and the horrible Canadian winter takes over. I try to squeeze in patios, beaches, cottages and summer fairs to the point of actual stress! Lately I have even been skipping yoga in favor of taking Kona for extra long evening walks just so that I can spend more time outside.
The only good thing to be said about summer ending is the bounty of beautiful local produce that we get this time of year. Tomatoes, peaches, plums, nectarines, and zucchini are all so abundant that it's impossible not to notice and (over) indulge. This week I was lucky enough to find myself with a plump, shiny eggplant. I don't actually cook with eggplant all that often; when I do I usually make curry, ratatouille or eggplant Parmesan. It is only on rare occasion that I make anything else, usually because my mind goes blank for some reason or another. Maybe it's because eggplant has such an odd name for such a pretty looking vegetable, I don't really know. This week I was racking my brain for something to do with my purple friend and when it came to me, baba ghanoush!
For those of you who don't know baba ghanoush isn't someone sneezing, it's actually a delicious garlicky eggplant dip. I love the stuff, but find it hard to go through a lot of it unless I have company. When I have book club or I need to bring a snack to an event it will make an appearance, but it rarely pops up in my lunchbox. It is so simple to make and is healthy so I really should make it more often.
This week I made my baba ghanoush with the intent of using it as a dressing for pasta salad instead of mayo. Wow, I'm happy that I did! The dip is packed full of flavor and is creamy enough to make a perfect addition to a pasta salad. To keep with the flavor profile I roasted some cherry tomatoes and onions. Just to make for a more balanced lunch I added some drained canned tuna and some fresh greens. If this seems like too much work the baba ghanoush on its own is perfect with some pita bread.
In terms of substitutions you could use any short pasta that you like. As usual the greens are interchangeable; baby greens of some sort are best for this. If you are vegetarian or don't eat fish, just leave the tuna out. Personally I wouldn't switch out the tahini for anything else. If you don't have grape tomatoes in your area you could use cherry tomatoes. Little tomatoes are key here because they give you this amazing burst of juicy flavor that really adds to the dish without making the pasta soggy.
I love to see your Nickels and Noodles creations. Please take pictures and share them on the Facebook and Instagram pages!
Baba Ghanoush Pasta Salad
4 Big Servings
0.16 Cup Tahini
1 TBSP Chopped Garlic
1 TBSP Lemon Juice
2 TBSP Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper To Taste
0.5 Pint Grape Tomatoes, Washed
4 Cups Cooked Fusilli Pasta
4 Cups Mixed Baby Greens
2 Cans Tuna, Drained
Pre-heat your oven to 350 degree
Cut the green end off your eggplant and then slice the vegetable in half lengthwise
Prick the skin a few times on each side and set aside
Peel your onions and slice it in half
Roast your eggplant and onion cut side down for about 35 minutes for until soft
While your oven is on, roast the tomatoes for about 15 minutes or until they are soft but still hold their shape.
Set cooked veggies aside until they are cool enough to handle
Scoop the flesh out of the eggplant. It should be soft enough to do with a normal spoon; if it isn't put it in back in the oven for a bit longer.
Puree eggplant, tahini, garlic, lemon juice, oil, salt and pepper until smooth. Set aside.
Dice roasted onion and set aside
Toss the baba ghanoush and the pasta together; add in tomatoes, onion and tuna
Chill for at least an hour
To serve divide among four bowls and top with the greens. If you are packing this for lunch I recommend adding the greens just before serving. The pasta salad without the greens refrigerates really well and works wonderfully for leftovers or as a make ahead meal.