Baba Ghanoush Tart for your Thanksgiving Table
By: Blanche Shaheen/Arab America Contributing Writer
Tis the season for dinner parties and indulgences, when turduckens or, worse, piecakens end up on some holiday entertaining menus. A piecaken is three different pies baked into a cake. Why not have just one tart that is so rich and flavorful that you won’t yearn for an extra pie or three?
As a food writer and host of the YouTube cooking show “Feast in the Middle East,” I usually feel extra pressure to step up to the plate (no pun intended) and really deliver on a unique dish that will impress all of my guests. One experimental afternoon I had all of the ingredients to make the eggplant dip baba ghanoush as well as a sack of almond meal – and my Baba Ghanoush Tart was born.
Baba ghanoush in Arabic means “pampered papa.” According to old Arabic folklore originating in Syria, a caring daughter mashed all of the food she cooked for her elderly toothless father, or baba, as he was unable to chew. One of the vegetables she mashed, with the addition of olive oil, lemon juice, and tahini, was the precursor to today’s popular baba ghanoush.
For my Baba Ghanoush Tart, I deconstructed the ingredients and added a nutty, gluten-free crust made with the almond meal. The filling of creamy tahini, roasted tomatoes, caramelized onions and the topping of nuts and cheese create a dish that is all at once sweet and savory, creamy and nutty.
You can customize any ingredient to suit your taste. Don’t like almonds? Use cashew meal instead. Not an eggplant fan? Try roasting sliced zucchini or delicata squash. You can also replace the goat cheese with chunks of ricotta or shreds of Gruyere. Walnuts can be replaced with pine nuts.
This tart is brimming with colors and rich in textures and flavors. So while it can make a fanciful addition to your entertaining table, the leftovers also make a great lunch with a leafy salad.
For the technique on how to make this colorful tart, click on the video below:
Ingredients for the pastry shell
(fits a 9 inch tart pan)
1/2 teaspoon of fresh or dried thyme
2 cups of almond flour
½ cup of Parmesan cheese (grated)
1/.4 cup (or so) of water
2 tbsp olive oil
Ingredients for the filling
¼ cup tahini
2 tomatoes, sliced
2 small eggplant, cut into 1 inch slices
Salt and pepper to taste
Garlic Powder (for sprinkling over vegetables)
1/2 cup of goat cheese (or feta cheese)
3 tbsp olive oil, plus more for brushing vegetables
2 onions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup of pine nuts (toasted)
Salt to taste
Preparing the tart shell
- For the tart shell, combine the flour, cheese, and thyme, and blend well.
- Add the water and olive oil so the cheese and flour stick together enough to press onto the bottom of a pie shell or tart pan.
- Mold the dough into the pie/tart shell using your fingers.
- Bake the shell at 350 degrees F for 10 minutes, or just before it begins to brown.
Preparing the filling
- To prepare the tomatoes and eggplant, slice them and place them on parchment paper (or a non-stick mat), sprinkle lightly with salt. Let eggplant sit about half an hour then press out excess liquid with a towel or cheesecloth. Brush olive oil over all of the vegetables, season with garlic powder, salt, and pepper, and bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes. Remove the tomatoes from the oven. Turn over eggplant and bake another 10 minutes.
- In the meantime, you can caramelize the onions, by place them in a frying pan with salt to taste in 3 tbsp. of heated olive oil. Saute on a low to medium flame for about 15 minutes, or until they are soft, brown, and sweet.
- Take the tart shell out of the oven, Cool the tart shell for a few minutes. Using a pastry brush, brush a generous layer of tahini paste on the tart shell. Layer the caramelized onions in the tart shell over the tahini, then add the roasted tomatoes, and eggplant. Sprinkle the top with goat cheese and walnuts. Bake the tart 10 minutes more so the cheese gets soft and a little browned at 350 degrees.
Blanche Shaheen is a journalist, food writer, and host of the cooking show called Feast in the Middle East. She specializes in Arab cuisine of the Levant and beyond. You can check out her cooking video tutorials and cultural commentary on growing up Arab American at https://www.youtube.com/user/blanchetv Her recipes can also be found at: https://feastinthemiddleeast.wordpress.com/