Simple Baba Ganoush
This time of year the eggplant are heavy and full of their purple fruit of silkiness. I love eggplant grilled, eggplant parmesan, added to soup, in stirfry, and eggplant in ratatouille. But my go-to recipe for eggplant has to be Baba Ganoush.
About this Recipe
What is Baba Ganoush? Also known as Baba Ghanouj. Aside from the funny name, it’s a Mediterranean/Middle Eastern eggplant dip of Lebanese origin. Perfect for pita bread, vegetable crudites, or straight from a spoon. It’s related to the Hummus family (is there a hummus family?) but instead of chickpeas, the base is roasted eggplant.
My preference is as creamy and blended as possible by using a food processor, but leaving it rustic and chunky is more authentic. No food police here, so it’s up to you!
Traditionally, the eggplant would be roasted over a fire for that sweet charred smokey flavor. You could also use your outdoor grill. For convenience, this recipe calls for oven-roasting with a little bit of smoked paprika tossed in.
Lastly, but most importantly, use the freshest of ingredients!
My dad was born in Lebanon and is also half Russian (Georgian) so we grew up eating untraditional meals (for the U.S., anyway) He would drive an hour to San Francisco to buy obscure spices and extra virgin olive oil that wasn’t easily found back in the 1970’s American Suburbia grocery stores. He grew what he couldn’t find, and created amazing and flavorful Mediterranean and Middle Eastern dishes that no other family on the block was eating.
I didn’t appreciate his cooking when I was a kid. What I really wanted was pizza and cheeseburgers. But he gifted me a culinary upbringing of flavors and textures that has developed into a love of cooking with fresh and unique ingredients. And luckily, I don’t have to drive an hour to find what I need!
Thanks, Dad, for opening up my world and taste experience to more than just burgers and fries.
- 4 cups fresh eggplant- 2 average size eggplant. (yielding approx. 2 cups roasted and chopped eggplant, skin removed
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/3 cup tahini paste
- 3-4 Tbsp lemon juice (juice of 1 lemon)
- 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- Optional Garnish:
- Chili flakes, pine nuts, parsley, olive oil, paprika
The standard Globe or American eggplant is most often found at the market is easy to find. There are quite a few different varieties, but whichever one you go with, choose firm skin with no wrinkling and an eggplant that is heavy and solid. (meaning it is fresh and hydrated) In this year’s garden, I grew the Antigua Eggplant. Smaller than the Globe variety, but more creamy, and without the bitterness that you typically associate with eggplant. Last season I grew Japanese Eggplant. They worked well, too. But with their long thin body, it took a bit more effort to get as much meat as I needed for a double batch. Which I always make, because it goes so quickly!
“But eggplant is bitter!” Here’s your solution: salt them to remove the bitterness and pull out some of the liquid. Cut lengthwise in half and salt generously. Let sit in a colander in the sink for 30-40 minutes. You’ll see the beads of liquid on the eggplant at this point. Wipe off excess salt and liquid with a paper towel and roast, following the recipe instructions below. You’ll have a perfect bitterLESS eggplant!
Step by Step Instructions
Optional: To remove the bitterness and pull out some of its liquid, cut eggplant lengthwise and salt heavily. Let sit in a colander in the sink. After 30-40 minutes, you will see beads of liquid resting on top. Wipe off salt with a paper towel.
Set oven to 425°. Roast for 30-45 minutes. (lean towards 45 minutes for larger eggplant) The eggplant will shrink quite a bit and become soft and mushy. Let cool.
Once cooled, peel skin from flesh, it will come off pretty easily. Roughly chop and add to a food processor. Alternatively, add to a mixing bowl. Mash with a fork or potato masher for a finer consistency.
Add all other remaining ingredients. Pulse on high for 2 minutes, stopping halfway to scrape down the sides. Taste to see if you need to add more tahini, lemon, or garlic. (I like mine heavy on the garlic, but not everyone needs to keep the vampires away, so adjust as you see fit)
If using a mixing bowl, stir until well incorporated.
Your Baba Ganoush is ready to go! Top with a drizzle of olive oil, sprinkle with smoked paprika, parsley, or pine nuts. Serve with pita wedges, carrot sticks, celery, sliced bell peppers, or any of your favorite veggies, or spread it on crackers. The flavor gets better the next day and will stay fresh in the fridge for 4-5 days. Great for a make-ahead party dish!
Baba Ganoush is Vegan, Whole30 approved, Keto & Paleo friendly!
Eggplants contain vitamins B1, B3, B6, C, & K. Also iron and copper, which assist in improving the health of red blood cells. They’re fiber-rich and help with digestion. Eggplant are heart-healthy, A pigment present in eggplant known as anthocyanins helps strengthen the heart and can also help to bring down the “bad” cholesterol.
Fresh garlic, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, and fresh lemon juice are all part of the healthy Mediterranean diet. Each, a superfood on its own.
Tahini contains antioxidants called lignans, which help prevent free radical damage in your body
Pair Baba Ganoush with your favorite veggies, and you’ve got one amazingly healthy, easy to make, addictive snack without any guilt!
We grew two eggplants this year. Last season there were three, and we couldn’t keep up with how much they produced. So two seems to be the magic number. The plants are about 3 feet tall and almost as wide. We’re in Zone 9a and we planted in April, along with the rest of the summer garden. They are slow-growing, need to be staked or supported, and produce from August through October.
As much as I love hummus, I really believe that Baba Ganoush is better! Maybe because I only make it when the garden is overflowing with eggplant? So the once a year, early Fall treat is the last of the summer season for our garden and I soak up every last morsel of both summer veggies and warm weather at the same time. It’s my daughter’s favorite, so I’ll double the recipe to send her home with some. It’s a family favorite that you have to taste to appreciate. But believe me, you’ll fall in love with it, too!
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