On a recent Zoom call with Jordan Winery’s chef and winemaker, we chatted about the winery’s newly released vintages and dishes to pair with them. I had planned a visit to the Sonoma Valley, but the pandemic hit; so, this Zoom call was the next best thing.
When the world returns to normal, Jordan Winery may be a spot you want to add to your bucket list. The site is a beautiful chateau that transports you to somewhere in France, while the stunning gardens and hills remind you that you are right smack in California wine country. The winery is famous for its chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon and also the excellent olive oil. As for me, I cannot wait for a return visit.
Chef Todd Knoll offered up some pantry suggestions, like having a cupboard full of staples to help enliven simple recipes. He recommends having fresh herbs at the ready, substitutes like honey for sugar, and plenty of vinegars and oils to elevate foods that are in your refrigerator. He also suggests being open to using substitutions during this time of COVID-19. I have found bright dry spices to be a boon to my cooking lately. And I have been using different flavored salts, like vanilla or smoked salt, to add a bit of pizazz to basic recipes.
Here we have a creamy eggplant dip that has been cooked over an open fire, offering up a distinctively smoky flavor. If you don’t have a grill, you can still make this delectable dip by roasting the eggplants in a 400-degree oven for 40 minutes and substituting smoked salt for regular salt. Chef Todd recommends using Soom brand tahini, a sesame paste, which you can find on Amazon.
Jordan Winery also harvests its own Italian and Spanish olive oil from the trees on the property. Any fruity olive oil will work, however.
I have been making this all summer as a light dip to present before dinner or lunch, accompanied by a basket of fresh vegetables and crispy flatbread. I had the pleasure of tasting both the just-released 2016 cabernet sauvignon and 2018 chardonnay alongside this dip. The chardonnay is a happy match. If you’re interested in learning more about this iconic winery, visit https://winecountrytable.com.
Jordan Winery’s Smokey Baba Ghanoush
Serves 8 to 12 as appetizer
- 2 medium Japanese or globe eggplants (about 3 pounds total)
- 1/3 cup tahini (Soom tahini preferred)
- 3 cloves garlic, roasted (you may also substitute 1 clove raw, crushed)
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1/3 cup Jordan Extra Virgin Olive Oil or other fruity olive oil
- Smoked paprika, for garnish
1. Prepare a hot direct fire for grilling.
2. Place the eggplant on the grill and cook until fork tender, turning once or twice. Remove the eggplant from the grill and cut each in half. Scoop the eggplant pulp into a bowl and discard the skin. Allow the eggplant to return to room temperature, then mash with fork or whisk. Set aside.
3. Combine tahini, garlic, lemon juice, cumin, salt and 1 tablespoon olive oil in a food processor. Blend until smooth, making sure to break up the tahini paste and roasted garlic. Add additional olive oil as needed until smooth.
4. Add the mashed eggplant to the tahini mixture and blend to achieve the desired consistency. Taste for seasoning and add lemon juice or salt, if desired.
5. Transfer the dip to a serving dish. Drizzle the surface lightly with olive oil and garnish with a sprinkle of smoked paprika. Serve as a dip with an edible vegetable centerpiece, pita bread, crackers or chips. If you prefer a cold dip, chill in the refrigerator. Store refrigerated in an airtight container for up to one week.
(Diane Rossen Worthington is an authority on new American cooking. She is the author of 18 cookbooks, including “Seriously Simple Parties,” and a James Beard Award-winning radio show host. You can contact her at www.seriouslysimple.com.)
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