There is an herb with a long culinary history that I first discovered years ago when I was in culinary school in San Francisco. Lovegae, looks a bit like an oversized Italian parsley leaf with the nose of sweet celery. It comes to us from western Asian through the Mediterranean, and recipes dating back to Apicius’ time mentions using this herb. Its flavor profile is vigorous holding its own in long simmering soups and stews. I like to add into a pickling mix for the dramatic flavor it offers. Yes, I have been known to use the very inner stalks and leaves of celery to replicate, if poorly, the dynamic flavor loveage infuses into a dish. Part of difference between the flavor of loveage and its aromatic cousin, celery, is that clerey’s flavor fades with cooking.
Babaghnoush - yields 6 to 8 servings
3 pounds eggplant - medium size
3 garlic cloves – crushed to a paste
3/4 cup tahini paste
2 lemons – juiced (about 1/3 cup)
1/2 cup Italian parsley leaves – chopped
1/4 cup loveage leaves - chopped
1/4 cup mint leaves –chopped
6 scallions - green tops only, chopped
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Prick the eggplant with a fork on all sides. Place on a foil line baking tray, and place in a 350 degree oven. Let the eggplant bake till the skin is charred and blistered -- approximately 30 minutes. Turn the eggplant at least once to ensure that all sides blister. The eggplant will be soft and mushy when it’s done.
Let the eggplant cool slightly, then peel away the skin completely and discard. Discard the large strip of seeds – a few remaining is fine. Place all the ingredients in a food processor and blend till smooth.
Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 1 week.