Baba Ganoush Lunch Platter
June 12, 2018 by Nicole Collins
Sometimes my quirks can make my art a little difficult.
I don't know if I should point this out to you or not, but I'm going to. Because, I'm oddly proud of it.
Embrace what makes you special, right?
So, I want you guys to notice the spacing on the plate in my pics of today's recipe. Not one thing is touching. And, that is absolutely on purpose.
Why? Because, I wouldn't eat it if anything on the plate touched something else. And, I have to eat everything I make, because I'm sure as heck not gonna throw away good (and delicious) food.
But, I have this issue that things on my plate can't touch; UNLESS, I have decided that the items belong together. Like, when the elements of the meal should be stacked on top of each other, which is a decision that only I can make. It's not an exact science, but it's extremely important that my plate is built the way that I want it.
And, that means no touchy.
The problem with this as someone who has to photograph her food is that this issue of mine is not necessarily the best aesthetic decision. So, it becomes a huge battle between the blog's integrity and my anxiety. But ultimately, I have to stay true to who I am, quirks and all, and there's no greater integrity than that.
I like to play this game with Sultan called “pick that pic”. Basically, I send her a couple of photos, and she helps me decide which one should be the cover photo. Sometimes, we play because I have too many favorite photos, and I can't pick one. Sometimes, we play because I hate all of the photos, and I can't pick one. Before we even got to “pick that pic” for today's recipe, I had to ask her if these pics looked dumb with the food spaced apart. And thankfully, she gave them the thumbs up!
So, I hope you support my weird habits!
We've got a lot of different elements to today's recipe, so my spacing issue was even more glaring today. But, it was TOTALLY worth it.
Because, today we're making Baba Ganoush Lunch Platters.
Now, you know I love to make appetizers in to meals, and that's totally how this lunch platter came together. Baba Ganoush is a Middle Eastern appetizer dip made of roasted eggplant, tahini, and some other yum stuff. It's kind of like eggplant hummus without the chickpeas. So, we're inviting some other friends to the plate to turn this dip in to a full course!
To make the Baba Ganoush, we start by roasting an eggplant and a couple of garlic cloves in the oven. When they're finished roasting, they go through the food processor with some tahini, some lemon juice, a little olive oil, and a smidge of a few spices like cumin, paprika, and cayenne. That's it...dip done! This recipe purposefully makes a smaller batch, but if you want to serve it in it's original appetizer form, just double or triple the ingredients!
To make our plate a little heartier, we're going to add some za'atar seasoned chicken tenders. Za'atar is a Middle Eastern spice consisting of sumac, sesame seeds, oregano, thyme, and sometimes a few other spices get thrown in there. We rub our chicken tenders with it, pop them under the broiler, and get them ready to dip in some of our amazing Baba Ganoush!
The last few accessories on our plate are part of what makes this platter so fun! We need naan bread, of course, for dipping in our creamy, tangy, just barely spicy Baba Ganoush.
The feta slices we add to our plate bring a nice salty element, for one. But two, you can't have any platter without cheese. It just wouldn't be right. I'm also going to embrace my inner Ina and tell you to get a good feta cheese. I'm alllllll about buying store brand products, because they usually taste the same; but I've had ok feta, and I've had GOOD feta. Spend the extra dollar or two and get the good stuff. Trust me!
To finish the plate, we're going to add some beautiful heirloom tomatoes. They add some much needed color to the plate. Plus, they add a nice acidity and freshness that helps to lighten up some of the creamy, hearty elements. And, since it's the perfect time of year to get these gorgeous tomatoes, why not?
This lunch platter is totally delicious, totally healthy, and totally perfect for summer eats. Plus, it's great for a make ahead, take to work lunch. And, even though I don't like my food to touch on the plate, I definitely recommend getting as much of these elements in one bite as you can. (Yes, it's ok for them to touch when they're not on the plate.) Mmmmmmm!
Ok guys, as always, thanks for hanging in there with me and appreciating my silly quirks. At least I give you delicious food to make up for it!
So, enjoy; and let's eat!
Baba Ganoush Lunch Platter Serves: 4 Print
For the Baba Ganoush:
1 medium eggplant (1 lb)
salt (about 1 tbsp)+ ¼ tsp, divided
2 garlic cloves, smashed but skin still on
olive oil cooking spray
2 tbsp tahini
2 tbsp lemon juice
½ tbsp olive oil
¼ tsp cumin
¼ tsp paprika
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
For the Za'atar Chicken:
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken tenders
1 ½ tsp za'atar
½ tsp salt
olive oil cooking spray
1 pack original naan (2 flatbreads)
4 1oz slices feta cheese, sliced from a block
8 slices (¼ inch thick) heirloom tomatoes, cut in to quarters
salt and pepper, to taste
Prepare the eggplant: Slice ends off eggplant. Slice eggplant to roughly ¾ inch slices (about the width of 1 and ½ fingers). Line a large baking tray with paper towels. Sprinkle roughly 1 tbsp salt on both sides of the cut eggplant. Let sit for 25-30 mins to draw out the moisture in the eggplant. After 20 mins, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Blot both sides on the eggplant with a paper towel to absorb moisture and extra salt. Remove the paper towels, and line the same baking tray with aluminum foil. Spray foil with olive oil cooking spray. Lay the eggplant slices in a single layer on the tray along with the garlic cloves still in their skin. Spritz the tops with olive oil spray. Roast for 25 mins.
Finish the Baba Ganoush: When the eggplant and garlic are cool enough to handle, remove the roasted garlic cloves from the skin. Place in a food processor. Run a spoon between the skin and the flesh of each slice of eggplant to remove the skin. Transfer the roasted eggplant to the food processor. Add tahini, lemon juice, olive oil, cumin, paprika, cayenne, and ¼ tsp salt. Blend until combined and smooth. Set aside.
Broil the chicken: Preheat broiler, and move top rack to 6 inches from broiler. Line a baking tray with aluminum foil, and spray with olive oil cooking spray. Place tenders on the baking sheet, and spritz the tops with olive oil cooking spray. Season both sides of chicken tenders with za'atar and salt. Broil for 6-7 minutes. Flip, and broil for another 6-7 minutes until the internal temp reaches 165 degrees.
To serve, toast naan according to package directions. Evenly divide chicken, tomatoes, and baba ganoush between four plates. Season tomatoes with salt and pepper, to taste. Serve with one slice of feta. Enjoy!
*There are different schools of thought when it comes to salting eggplant before roasting. Some say it takes out the bitterness. Some think roasted eggplant is fine without salting it first. I prefer to salt eggplant. I also prefer to slice the eggplant before roasting it as opposed to roasting it whole in order to get browned (flavorful) spots on more surface area of eggplant.
*This is the za'atar I use.
*Baba Ganoush is a GREAT party dip! You could easily double the dip recipe to serve on its own as an appetizer.
*Keeping the garlic in its skin helps it to roast without burning. Smashing it first helps it slide right out when it's finished.
*The chicken tenders would be great on the grill too!
*These are the newest version of the lunch containers I have.
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