hudhud ghanoush – turnip spread

Baba ghanoush is a traditional Middle Eastern dish made with eggplant, but Yahya Salih updates it with roasted turnips at his new cafe/take-out Ur, located next to the main restaurant, YaYa Cuisine in the Financial District. Salih named the spread Hudhud Ghanoush after his young son. The spread has an earthy mild taste and at first bite seems sweet from the date syrup, but after the second bite I became hooked. It’s great on pita, very thin slices of bread, or crackers. It can also be used as a dip for vegetables, particularly celery. The creative cook can also substitute roasted potatoes, zucchini, or cauliflower for the turnips. And you can even use eggplant.

6 large turnips, trimmed
½ cup plain yogurt
1/3 cup tahini (raw or roasted)
Juice of ½ lemon
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 tablespoon date syrup (see Note)
Salt and pepper
Toasted pita
Celery sticks (optional)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Place the turnips on a cookie sheet and bake for 30 to 45 minutes until very soft. Cool. When cool enough to handle, peel.

Blend the turnips with the yogurt, tahini, lemon juice, and garlic in a food processor or blender until smooth. Stir in the date syrup. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with pita bread and celery sticks, if desired.

Serves 6.

Note: Date syrup can be found in most Middle Eastern markets. To make a homemade version, boil 1 cup pitted dates in 1 cup water for about 5 minutes, then purée the mixture in a food processor.

From “The Secrets of Success Cookbook — Signature Recipes and Insider Tips from San Francisco’s Best Restaurants” by Michael Bauer