Baba who? That’s what I said many moons ago when I first heard of Baba Ganoush. Friends had made the dish as an appetizer and I’ve been hooked ever since. Baba Ganoush is a tasty, smoky eggplant dip made from grilled or roasted eggplants, tahini (a paste made from ground raw sesame seeds), fresh lemon juice and garlic. Originating in the Middle East, the dish has (happily) found its way to North America.
I love making Baba Ganoush, not only because it’s so delicious, but because I get to work with eggplants. For me, eggplants are at the top of my list of the world’s most beautiful vegetables. With their flawless complexions, full-figured bodies and striking colours, they are irresistible. When the eggplants first make their appearance in the farmers markets in late summer, all I want to do is stare at them and fondle their perfectly smooth lacquered skin. Then I want to make Baba Ganoush. It makes a great appetizer dip with veggies and pita bread. I sometimes just make it as a side when I cook a Middle Eastern meal—it makes a perfect side dish with Chicken Shawarma.
Baba Ganoush Recipe
- 2 medium or 3 small eggplants (approximately 900 to 1000 grams, or 2 1/2 lbs)
- 1/3 to 1/2 cup tahini*
- juice of one fresh lemon
- 1/2 tsp. of salt (adjust to taste)
- 2 cloves of garlic (rough chopped)
- drizzle of extra virgin olive oil (for garnish; optional)
- Kalamata olives (for garnish; optional)
*We love the taste of tahini, so I always put in the higher amount; if you want less of the tahini flavour, put in the smaller amount. If you are unsure, start with the smaller amount as you can always add more at the end.
1. Wash and dry eggplants. Slather in olive oil. Prick the skins with a fork or sharp knife to allow the steam to escape. This prevents the skins from splitting open or exploding.
2. Grill for 20-25 minutes (about 5 minutes per side, using tongs to turn the eggplant four or five times to ensure that the eggplants are charred on all four sides). The eggplants should be charred and pooped-looking and the inner flesh should be completely soft. Alternatively, you can roast them in the oven at 375 degrees for between 20-35 minutes, or until the eggplants are completely pooped. I have never tried this, but some people start by broiling them for two minutes to get some charring on the skin, then turn off the broiler and continue roasting at 375 degrees. Whether you do them on a grill or in the oven, the inner flesh should all be soft.
3. Place the eggplants in a bowl and allow them to cool for approximately 15 minutes or until they are cool enough to handle. Do not use any juice that seeps out into your bowl (it tastes bitter).
4. Scrape the flesh away from the skins, discard the skins and place the eggplant in the bowl of a food processor. It’s fine if you get a bit of charred skin with the flesh, but most of it should be discarded. Add the tahini, lemon and garlic and process until smooth. Taste and adjust for lemon, adding more lemon juice if you like more zing. You can also adjust the tahini levels, adding more if you want a stronger tahini taste. Finally, adjust the salt level to your taste.
5. Spoon the Baba Ganoush into a bowl and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Garnish with a few Kalamata olives. Serve at room temperature as a dip with pita bread, flatbread, raw veggies or crackers. If not serving immediately, refrigerate. Leftovers taste excellent the next day, some say even better, as the flavours really get a chance to meld.
If you can, grill the eggplants, as opposed to roasting them. The smoke from the charred skins imparts a deep, smoky flavour that is harder to achieve in the oven; but if you can’t grill them, don’t fret—oven-roasted eggplants still make a very delicious Baba Ganoush.
The Eggplants should look pooped.
Bad. Very bad, I know. But I couldn’t resist! Just like I can’t resist making Baba Ganoush at this time of year, whenever I am lucky enough to find beautiful local eggplants at the farmers market.
All photographs by madlyinlovewithlife: © 2016 madlyinlovewithlife