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Baba Ghanoush with Gluten-Free Toasts #FoodieReads

As we continue on with our May Foodie Reads Challenge, I wrapped up Jasmine and Fire: A Bittersweet Year in Beirut by Salma Abdelnour.* I suppose if I had to pick my "usual genre" it would certainly be a foodie memoir. And this one definitely qualifies.

On the Page...
For one year, Salma leaves New York where she has a career as a successful food journalist, a steady boyfriend, and an established life. She sublets her apartment, packs her bags, travels to Lebanon, and moves into her family's apartment in Beirut. While she's there, she explore the sites, sounds, and tastes of her childhood. She gets reacquainted with family members and childhood friends; she also vividly details her love affair with Lebanese food. And, as a food writer, her descriptions of food are lush and positively drool-worthy - baked goods from all over the city, festive foods from holidays and countless parties. We are immersed in her retelling of the texture, flavors, colors, and aromas of what she's eating. Okay, you are forewarned: do not try to read this book on an empty stomach.

But beyond the food, this book will resonate with anyone who has ever uprooted themselves and moved to another country. Salma addresses how we define 'home.' When does somewhere you lay your head become 'home'? When are you no longer an outsider?

As someone who packed her bags and lived in Rome for thirteen months after I graduated from college, I can definitely say that Rome is home to me. Though I am not ethnically Italian, immersing myself in that life, that city, and all that food for over a year, I am definitely Italian by choice! And, when I think of Rome, I do get homesick.

I can see how Beirut and Lebanon were under Salma's skin, especially since she and her family were forced to flee the country. I'm grateful she took the year...and extremely thankful that she wrote about it.

On the Plate...
There were so many Lebanese foods that I wanted to try after reading this book. And I definitely will make my way through several of the dishes mentioned as well as recipes published in the back of the novel. But, I opted to share one of my family's favorite as it's one of the foods that welcomes her home. One of her aunts or mother's friends filled the refrigerator with all her childhood favorites when she arrive to Beirut. Baba Ghanoush was one of those dishes. This is my recipe, though, not hers. I will try hers soon!

  • 2 medium organic eggplants (about 3 pounds total)
  • 2 to 3 T olive oil
  • 1/3 C organic tahini
  • 4 to 5 cloves garlic, peeled
  • juice from 1 organic lemon, approximately 1/4 C
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1 T fresh rosemary, chopped + more for garnish
  • sliced baguette, toasted, for serving (I used a rosemary gluten-free bread!)

Preheat the oven to 450°F. Rub the outside of the eggplants with olive oil and place them in a roasting pan with the garlic cloves. Roast the garlic until it is just softened, approximately 10 minutes. Roast the eggplant until the skin has charred and the interior is tender, approximately 50 more minutes. Let cool.

Peel eggplant and mash to a coarse paste with the roasted garlic, tahini, lemon juice, and olive oil as needed.

Season to taste with salt and pepper. Fold in the fresh rosemary just before serving. Garnish with more fresh rosemary and serve with bread.

*This blog currently has a partnership with in their affiliate program, which gives me a small percentage of sales if you buy a product through a link on my blog. It doesn't cost you anything more. If you are uncomfortable with this, feel free to go directly to and search for the item of your choice.

Here's what everyone else read in May 2017: here.


  1. LOVE Lebanese food and Baba Ghanoush is at the top of that list!!

  2. This sounds like a great book. I'll have to look for it.

  3. Sounds like a book I'd like to read, and your Baba Ghanoush looks so yummy, would be great with some "Multi-Seed Crackers" I've recently discovered, also GF.


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