Eggplant With Tahineh and Toasted Pine Nuts

Time 1 hour
Yields Serves 6 to 8
Eggplant With Tahineh and Toasted Pine Nuts
(Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

Heat the grill or broiler.


Grill or broil the eggplants, turning them often, until their skin blisters and begins to blacken, then peel them.


Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Toast the pine nuts on a baking sheet until light brown, 3 minutes, or toast them in a dry skillet over medium-low heat, tossing them often, for 2 to 3 minutes. Watch so they don’t burn. Immediately transfer them to a plate.


Chop the eggplant with a knife to a slightly chunky puree. Transfer to a bowl. Add the garlic and mix well.


Spoon the tahineh into a bowl. Gradually stir in 6 tablespoons of lemon juice and the water. Add to the eggplant and mix well. Season generously with salt, add pepper to taste and more lemon juice if you like.


At serving time, spread the eggplant in a thick layer on a platter or plate. Sprinkle with Aleppo pepper, drizzle the center lightly with olive oil, then sprinkle with pine nuts. Sprinkle the edges with parsley and serve.

This rich, sesame-flavored, cream-colored dip is the most popular eggplant preparation in the Middle East. Its unique taste comes from tahineh, or sesame butter, accented with lemon juice and garlic. Use pure tahineh paste, not prepared tahineh sauce; the ingredient label on the jar should list only sesame. Usually there is oil on top; stir until blended before measuring it. If you’re serving the dip’s time-honored partner, pita bread, be sure to buy fresh, good-quality loaves from a Mideast market or bakery, not the thin, flimsy ones you find in some supermarkets. At Mideast grocery stores you’ll also find red Aleppo pepper, which adds a gentle heat, more than paprika but much less than cayenne. For a festive presentation, I top the spread with pine nuts.

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