Baba ghanoush is fun to say and fun to eat. I think of the eggplant dish as an appetizer, similar to hummus, but my husbanders often likes to eat baba ghanoush as a side dish. I really enjoy the smokiness in the flavor and prefer a smooth texture in my baba ghanoush. This is easy to control when you make it at home. Since I like a smoother texture, I usually puree the ingredients with a hand blender, but you can put it in a food processor as well. If you don’t have either, you can also mash it with a fork and combine the ingredients well. The most time consuming part of making baba ghanoush is roasting the eggplant, which takes about an hour.
I often make this as an appetizer for dinner parties because it is off the beaten path, and easy to make in advance. Although it is traditionally served with pita, it also works well with carrots or peppers for a twist on the traditional dip. As a side dish, it works well with grilled chicken, lamb or even meatballs.
1 large eggplant or 3-4 baby eggplants
¼ cup tahini (sesame paste, found in international markets or the international section of some higher end grocery stores)
1 small bulb of garlic
juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon of fresh flat-leaf parsley or cilantro
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for drizzling
Pre-heat oven to 425F. Place the whole, washed, eggplant on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Use your hands to make sure the eggplant is well-coated. Prick the eggplant with a fork to make holes in the skin (this is really important, otherwise your eggplant might explode!). Coat the small bulb of garlic in oil, don’t peel or separate the cloves, just drizzle oil over the whole thing, and place it on the baking sheet as well.
Roast the eggplant and the garlic for about an hour, or until the eggplant is very soft and the eggplant begins to collapse. The garlic is ready when the outside starts to turn golden brown and is soft to the touch (about 45 mins). The eggplant may take longer than the garlic, so just keep an eye on things and remove the garlic when its ready, but keep the eggplant in the oven if you need to! The eggplant should be soft, shriveling and the skin may look burnt. You can also do this on a grill, but keep the garlic over indirect heat. Over a flame, the eggplant skin will burn and char, but don’t worry, we aren’t going to eat the skin!
Let the eggplant and garlic cool completely. Peel the skin off of the eggplant and shred the eggplant into small pieces and place it in a strainer. Press the eggplant to release any excess liquid.
Place the peeled and squeezed eggplant in a large bowl. Cut off the top of the garlic bulb. Squeeze out 4-5 cloves of the roasted garlic and add it to the eggplant. I like to use the entire bulb because I love garlic. Otherwise you can reserve the roasted garlic in the fridge for up to 2-3 days and use it for something else (works great with pasta). Add the tahini, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, a 1 teaspoon of salt, and a pinch of pepper. Blend/puree everything together with a hand blender and take a sample. Adjust the seasonings to your preference – more roasted garlic, salt or lemon etc.
Before serving, top with the parsley or cilantro and drizzle with more olive oil. I also like to stick in a few olives to make it look fun, but it’s optional. If you are not serving it immediately, cover with plastic wrap and press the plastic wrap onto the baba ghanoush, and refrigerate up to 1 day in advance. Drizzle the olive oil and top with parsley right before serving.