Baba at Home and Luna’s in Hillcrest

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I’ve been hearing some positive things about Luna Grill lately, so I finally checked it out over the weekend (  It’s a Southern California chain with 6 locations in San Diego County and 2 locations in Orange County.  Its cuisine is Mediterranean and everything is made to order.  There’s an emphasis on hormone-free and anti-biotic foods.  You place your order at the counter, you are given a number, and the food is brought to your table.  First thing that arrived at our table was the Eggplant Dip.  I make a Baba Ghanouj with roasted eggplants and tahini, so I was thinking it would be similar.  It was very different from mine, but I really enjoyed it.  Mine is more creamy, and Luna’s is more like a Caponata.  There was a nice sweetness from the caramalized onions, and it was topped with yogurt and sautéed mint.  If you don’t like onions, don’t worry, you’ll probably never know you had any.  They just melt into the dip.  The dip was a great start, and the pita was so soft and warm!  Yum!!   It was delicious with my San Pellegrino Limonata – I love that stuff!  The husband opted for an Avery White Rascal: a perfect summertime Belgian Wheat.

Franz ordered the Gyros Plate Entrée with a Side of Falafel.  I had to order the Lamb Kabob Wrap.  First of all, this place calls itself  “The Ultimate Kabobery”, and, secondly, I can’t turn down lamb.   Franz thought his plate was standard, and we both thought the falafel was a little crumbly.   The garnish of either carrots or grilled tomatoes never made their appearance on Franz’s dish.  We didn’t feel like asking for them.  However, I liked when I placed my order, the cashier asked how I wanted my lamb cooked.  I didn’t expect that from a “fast food” style place.  I ordered it medium rare, and it was served as such.  The meat was flavorful, lean and a decent amount of meat for $12.  It came with either a side of Basmati rice or french fries.  I opted for the fries which did a great job at attacking my french fry craving!   We were stuffed, but we had a gift card so we needed to spend a few more bucks.  Franz couldn’t even finish his meal!  Shocking!  We ordered a Red Velvet Cupcake to go, and we had it later as an after dinner snack.  I’m picky when it comes to cupcakes, and I thought this one was a standard Red Velvet.  As my husband said “I wouldn’t kick it out of bed.”  As a side note, if you stop by the Hillcrest location, check out the bathroom hallway.  Very cool!

Below is my go to recipe for Baba Ghanouj.  Everything is really to taste, so if you want more garlic (I always do), throw it in!  Also, roasting the garlic first would be tasty!  Just make sure to taste after you’ve made it – you can always add more of something to it!  I usually add some Sriracha!  I can’t help myself.  If you want a greater roasted flavor from the eggplant, you could throw them on the grill or broil them in the oven.  Play around with this recipe and let me know what you do!

Baba Ghanouj (Or Baba Ganoush)

2 1-pound eggplants, halved lengthwise

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup tahini (sesame seed paste)

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 garlic clove, chopped

Pita bread wedges

Preheat oven to 375°F. Generously oil rimmed baking sheet. Place eggplant halves, cut side down, on sheet. Roast until eggplant is very soft, about 45 minutes. Cool slightly. Using spoon, scoop out pulp from eggplant into strainer set over bowl. Let stand 30 minutes, allowing excess liquid to drain from eggplant.

Transfer eggplant pulp to processor. Add 1/4 cup oil, tahini, lemon juice, and garlic; process until almost smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to small bowl. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Bring to room temperature before serving.) Serve with pita wedges.

Take Care and Happy Eating!

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