I really (x 10) love Middle Eastern food, but I usually skip the baba ganoush which is a traditional eggplant dip. Even though I generally love smoked items, I find baba ganoush to be a bit too smokey. Like smokey in an old man cigar way. It’s just not my style.
But the good news (for me) is that if you make baba ganoush at home you can tone down the smoke levels a bit and then you end up with a perfectly delicious eggplant dip that you can eat with pita, a spoon, or your fingers. Whatever you have at the ready.
1) Cut eggplants in half longwise and cut a few slits in the skin which will make it easier to peel later. Drizzle with olive oil and season eggplant with a pinch of salt.
2) Grill eggplant over high heat for 5 minutes skin-side up, then flip and grill for another 5-7 minutes until eggplants are tender to the touch. They should give quite a bit when they are done.
3) Remove eggplant from the grill and place them all in a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let them steam for 15 minutes.
4) Peel eggplant and add to a food process along with tahini, garlic, lemon, cumin, paprika, and a pinch of salt and pepper.
5) Pulse until mostly smooth and season to your liking.
6) Spoon baba ganoush into a serving dish and drizzle with oil and fresh chopped parsley. Serve with pita chips!
Eggplants can be a pain to work with because they tend to be a bit bitter, especially the larger ones like I used for this recipe. What I normally do is cut the eggplant into slices, salt it, and press it which cuts down on the bitterness, but there’s zero need for any of that for this recipe. Since the eggplant is cooked down for a long time and you also blend it with lots of other flavorful stuff, you can skip the pressing step entirely.
All you need to do is cut the eggplant in half longwise and then cut a few slits in the skin. This will just make it easier to peel later.
Get your grill nice and hot and drizzle your eggplant halves with olive oil. Then add the eggplant pieces skin-side up and grill them for about five minutes.
That should give you some nice grill marks and a tiny bit of smokey flavor but nothing overpowering.
Continue to grill these guys for 5-7 more minutes until they are very tender to the touch. Then pull them off the grill and stick them all in a bowl.
Cover these with plastic wrap and let them steam for 15 minutes.
Steaming the eggplant like this will make the flesh very tender and also make them easier to peel!
After steaming, the skin will easily come off from the eggplant halves.
Finishing the Dip
If you have a well-stocked pantry, you might just get lucky and have everything you need for this dip. These are pretty standard Middle Eastern flavors.
At this point the dip isn’t rocket science.
Just add everything to your food processor and pulse it up! Honestly, if you don’t have a food processor, the eggplant should be soft enough that you can just mash it with a fork and then stir in the other ingredients well. Baba ganoush existed long before food processors…
Once the dip is pureed, taste it and adjust for any flavors. It might need an extra pinch of salt, for example.
For serving, just pile the dip in a large bowl and drizzle it with olive oil and sprinkle with fresh parsley.
Betsy and I actually made a dinner out of this dip with some whole toasted pita breads, an assortment of veggies, and a quick yogurt dip (yogurt, garlic, cucumber, lemon).
Bets and I both thought that the baba ganoush was excellent because it wasn’t overpowering at all. It had just the right amount of spice and blended well with the other ingredients!