Some foods just seem meant for each other… peanut butter and jelly, lox and cream cheese, hot dogs and mustard. One of my all-time favorite flavor combinations has to be eggplant and tahini. The rich creamy flavor of sesame tahini paste, when stirred together with tender roasted eggplant, turns into something magical. It’s like smoky, creamy perfection. These two foods were destined to be together.
Eggplant is a favorite veggie in our home; it’s such a healthy, versatile vegetable. We eat it at least twice a week in various forms. My husband loves the smell of eggplant roasting on the stovetop, he says it reminds him of his childhood in Israel. Because we love eggplant, I’m always trying to think of new ways to serve it. A couple of months ago as I was making some baba ganoush for dinner guests, I decided to take a departure from my usual recipe. Instead of seasonings, I added extra tahini, fresh basil from our patio garden and lemon juice to brighten it up. I had a sourdough baguette on hand, so I grilled up some slices and served the eggplant dip on top to create little Eggplant Tahini Basil Crostini. The result was, as my husband called it, “sinful!”
You can make the dip ahead and refrigerate for up to 2 days. If making the crostini, let the dip come to room temperature before serving. If you’re rather not go to the trouble of making crostini, feel free to use this mixture as a dip or mezze. The dip itself is gluten free, which means if you’re on a gluten free diet you can serve it with vegetable crudite or GF crackers. The dip is also vegan, and if you use a vegan baguette/bread, then the whole dish becomes vegan too! If making as a dip, I recommend doubling the recipe so you’ll have enough to go around. This stuff is addictive!
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Eggplant Tahini Basil Crostini
- 1 lb eggplant, roasted (1 eggplant)
- 1/3 cup tahini paste
- 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice, or more to taste
- 1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing crostini
- 1/4 tsp crushed garlic
- 1/4 tsp salt, or more to taste
- 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, divided
- 1 sourdough baguette (for gluten free, substitute your favorite certified GF bread)
Roast the eggplant till very soft, scoop out the flesh with the smoky juices and discard the skin. Learn how to roast an eggplant. Place the roasted eggplant flesh in a mesh strainer in the sink and let it drain off excess liquid and return to room temperature.
Roughly chop 1/2 tbsp of the basil leaves, reserve the rest. Combine roasted eggplant, tahini paste, fresh lemon juice, olive oil, crushed garlic, salt and the 1/2 tbsp chopped fresh basil in a bowl. Use a fork to mash the mixture together till smooth, creamy and dip-like. Break apart any stringy pieces of eggplant with the fork. Taste the eggplant; add more salt or lemon juice to taste.
At this point, the mixture may be served as a dip in a bowl garnished with some fresh chiffonade-cut basil (see directions below), or you can make crostini with it. If serving as a dip, I recommend doubling the recipe to make a larger amount. If making as crostini, read on!
To make crostini, preheat grill to high or oven to 400 degrees F. Slice the baguette along a diagonal into 1/4 inch slices using a serrated knife. Do not slice them thicker than 1/4 inch, or they will be difficult to bite through when toasted/grilled.
Brush the slices with olive oil and sprinkle lightly with salt. If cooking on the grill (recommended), place slices on the grill and let them cook for 3-5 minutes till toasted golden brown with grill marks. If cooking in the oven, place the bread into the oven and let it toast for 8-10 minutes till the bottoms of the bread slices are golden brown and toasted. Flip the slices to check for doneness-- they will brown more on the bottom than they will on the top. Once toasted, remove from the oven and allow to cool.
Chiffonade-cut the remaining fresh basil. Start by piling up 6-8 basil leaves on a cutting board, one atop the other.
Roll the leaves up, starting from the tip end and rolling inward towards the steam, to create a tight roll of leaves.
Slice the roll of leaves into thin strips at an angle to create long, thin pieces of basil. Repeat process with remaining basil.
Top each baguette slice with 2 tsp of the eggplant dip. Garnish each slice with a little chopped basil. Serve.
- Gluten free modification - omit baguette, serve as a dip with with gluten free toast or crackers.
Other Great Recipe Ideas
Simply Recipes: Eggplant and Red Pepper Terrine
Recipe Girl: Grilled Eggplant Salad with Feta and Pine Nuts
Steamy Kitchen: Roasted Baby Eggplant with Caponata Sauce
A Spicy Perspective: Sauteed Eggplant with Honey and Thyme