Special Request: Baba Ganoush from YaYa's

2013-07-30T07:30:00Z 2013-12-31T07:55:13Z Special Request: Baba Ganoush from YaYa'sBy Alanna Kellogg” Special to the Post-Dispatch stltoday.com

Q • YaYa’s in Chesterfield serves a tasty roasted eggplant spread with fresh bread before each meal. We love the taste; I have tried to duplicate it without success. — Suzanne Hoops,

Town and Country

A • When YaYa’s opened its doors 15 years ago, Mediterranean food was largely an unknown in St. Louis. “People didn’t know what hummus was,” laughs Alex Hayworth, executive chef at the Chesterfield restaurant. YaYa’s owner Paul Khoury is half Greek, and the restaurant is named for his grandmother. “We serve a little bit of Greek, Spanish, Middle Eastern, Italian and French. And North African too, during colder weather,” Hayworth says.

YaYa’s is famous for its happy hour’s buy-one-get-one-free appetizers and $4 martinis. Recently, the restaurant has focused on “sea to table” fresh seafood. Hayworth says, “We want people to find both great food and a great experience here.”

Baba Ganoush is YaYa’s bread service, a pool of creamy sauce sprinkled with herb oil and za’atar, an Arabic spice blend with YaYa’s own bread, baked by Fazio’s, for dipping. Baba ganoush is an Arabic dish with numerous alternate spellings, pronounced ba-ba (sounds like papa) ga-NOOSH. YaYa’s recipe calls for yogurt instead of the usual tahini to keep the spread fresh and light, says Hayworth, with just a touch of garlic, preferably minced by hand. “The other ingredients are so mild, even a little garlic comes through.”

YaYa’s roasts 90 pounds of eggplant a week for Baba Ganoush. Hayworth says that guests sometimes ask, even before sitting down, “Could we get some of that bread and eggplant dip?”

To re-create YaYa’s Baba Ganoush at home, Hayworth offers tips. Puncture the eggplant before roasting, otherwise, he says, “Look for a big mess in the oven.” In addition, add the oil to the blender in a slow stream, otherwise the Baba Ganoush may “break.”

{hr /}YaYa’s Eurocafe

15601 Olive Boulevard, Chesterfield

636-537-9991; yayasstl.com

Special Request is written by Kirkwood resident Alanna Kellogg, author of the online recipe column KitchenParade.com and “veggie evangelist” at the food blog about vegetables, A Veggie Venture.

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