Preparation / Directions:
Preheat the oven to 425 degree. Place the eggplant in a shallow baking pan. Insert a stainless steel fork in the eggplant up to the point where the tines end. The fork conducts the heat into the center of the eggplant so that it cooks faster. Bake the eggplant until cooked through and soft, 35 to 50 minutes. It's not important if the eggplant chars, for in some versisons of this dish, the eggplant is cooked over coals, which gives it a pleasant, smoky flavor. While the eggplant is still hot, remove the skin. Cool slightly, and drain off the juices, which tend to be bitter. Mash the garlic and place in a mixing bowl. Add the eggplant pulp and the lemon juice and tahini to taste. Vary the proportions of each depending upon whether you want the lemon or the sesame flavor to dominate. Beat with a mixer or in a food processor, pulling out only stringy parts, until mixed well. Place the mixture in a serving bowl, make a depression in the center, and fill with about 1 table! ! ! spoon oil. Garnish with the onions and mint. Serve with the lettuce or with pita bread to use as a scoop. This baba ghanoush will keep, refrigerated, for up to 2 weeks. Makes about 2 cups
Variations Russian-Style: Omit the tahini and add 1/4 cup each cooked chopped sweet green peppers and tomatoes and 1 teaspoon chopped fresh coriander.
Omit the tahini and add 1/2 cup cooked chopped onions and 1/3 cup cooked chopped tomatoe