Smokey Baba Ganoush is a wonderfully rich and creamy Middle Eastern eggplant dip that might just give hummus a run for its money! This healthy vegan appetizer is easy to make, and irresistible.
Like its cousin, hummus, baba ganoush is a very simple but irresistible Middle Eastern dip, only instead of chickpeas, you mash charred and roasted eggplant along with lemon, salt, tahini, olive oil and variable other herbs and spices.
If you love hummus, this is a really nice way to change it up every now and then. A friend made it for me last week and a little light went off in my head…it’s so delicious and yet it totally dropped off my radar many years back. I’m so glad to have rediscovered it.
These Sicilian eggplant are from the farmer’s market. They’re a little sweeter than the dark purple variety, but any kind is fine for baba ganoush. Since you are going to roast them and scrape out the flesh, the larger, rounder eggplant will be easiest to work with.
The defining feature of baba ganoush is the charred eggplant. If you have a gas stove top you can hold the eggplant directly over the fire until the skin blisters and blackens. You could also do this with a kitchen torch or by putting them under the broiler.
You can skip this step and just roast the eggplant in the oven, but the initial blackening subtly flavors the inner flesh with a delicious smokiness. I use this technique with stuffed peppers and it really does make a difference.
When they come out of the oven they’ll look like hell, but don’t worry. It gets better.
All you need to do is cut them in half and scoop out the soft insides. Put the flesh in a food processor and leave the burnt skin behind. Much like a hummus, it’s going to bet blended with tahini, lemon, garlic and salt. From there you have the option of adding fresh herbs like parsley or cilantro, or seasonings like cumin. Taking my cue from David Lebovitz, I bumped up the smokey factor with smoked salt and smoked hot paprika. At the end I sprinkled on some sumac, which is a Middle Eastern spice with a tangy, lemon flavor, and some herbs de Provence. This is a gorgeous dip.
Reader Rave ~
“I made this last night and my fiancé declared it was better than hummus! I had to add a fair amount of salt and a bit more lemon juice, but what a rich, delightful dip made from such simple ingredients! Most babas I’ve researched require dairy, which doesn’t even make sense to me when it’s SO unnecessary–clearly! Thank you for a lovely recipe :) We’ll be making this again and again and I’ll no doubt be photographing and sharing it on my blog. Hope to link back soon!” ~ Cheryl
- 2 small to medium eggplant
- 1 large clove garlic
- 1 tsp smoked sea salt (or regular salt)
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- 3 Tbsp tahini
- 1/2 tsp hot smoked paprika (substitute sweet paprika if you don't want heat)
- olive oil
- fresh parsley
- sumac (or more paprika)
- herbes de Provence
- set oven to 400F
- Poke the skin of the eggplant several times with a fork. Set the eggplants over an open flame to char the skin on all sides. You can do this over a gas flame on the stove top, with a kitchen torch, or under the broiler. Turn the eggplant to evenly blacken the skin. (You can skip this step if you want to.)
- Put the eggplant on a foil lined baking sheet and bake for about 30 minutes, or until a sharp paring knife pierces the flesh easily.
- Let cool briefly, and then cut in half. Scoop out the flesh and put in the bowl of a food processor. Leave the blackened skin behind.
- Smash the garlic clove and mince it. Add the salt to the garlic and mash it with the back of the knife until it becomes a paste. Put the paste in the processor with the eggplant.
- Add the lemon juice, tahini, and paprika and pulse until the mixture is pureed but still has some texture.
- Taste the baba ganoush and adjust the seasonings if you need to. You may want to add a ittle more salt, lemon, or paprika.
- Chill until ready to eat, the baba ganoush will improve with a little time in the fridge.
- When ready to serve, spread in a bowl and even out the top so it can hold a swirl of oil. Drizzle on the oil, then sprinkle on sumac, herbes, and parsley. Serve with pita, naan, or other flat bread.
You could also garnish the baba ganoush with toasted pine nuts and a drizzle of pomegranate molasses.