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Baba Ghanouj (Eggplant) with Garlic, Tomato, and Herbs

Yield about three cups

3 medium eggplants, about 2 1/2 to 3 pounds total
Sea salt for sprinkling
4 to 5 cloves garlic, minced
1 shallot, minced
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin or more to taste
2 teaspoons Za’atar
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 large firm ripe tomatoes, cored, seeded, and chopped
About 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil or more to taste
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

To prepare:

Preheat the grill until coals are white hot or preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Place eggplants directly on the grid and cook them, using tongs to turn them often until the skin is charred, about twenty to thirty minutes, the cooking time will depend on the size of the eggplant. Set aside to cool.
Slice eggplants in half lengthwise and scoop out the flesh, transferring it to a strainer to allow the liquid to release, let stand about fifteen to twenty minutes.
Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, combine garlic and shallots, cumin, Za’atar, and parsley.
Add drained eggplant and with a fork, mix together until well blended. Add tomatoes, and enough olive oil to bind the mixture. Season with lemon zest, juice, salt and pepper, taste and adjust the seasonings. Serve with pita bread, crudités, or use as a topping for baked potatoes, a stuffing for tomatoes or sweet peppers.

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