Making Baba Ganoush at Home
Baba Ganoush is a dish made from basic ingredients that can be adjusted to suit everyone’s tastes. Eggplant, tahini, lemon juice, and garlic form the base with everything from cilantro to pomegranates being used for added flavor.
Originating in the Middle East, baba ganoush literally means “spoiled father.” Stories vary as to whether this means it is so good you will feel spoiled when you eat it or whether it refers to the texture being mashed so that even very old toothless men can enjoy the dish. In some parts of the world it is referred to as eggplant caviar. A versatile dish, it is most often served as an appetizer or dip along with fresh vegetables, sliced bread, or baked pita chips. However, it can also be served as a stand alone side dish with cooked meat similar to mashed potatoes. Another serving idea is to spread baba ganoush on a good crusty bread and top with roasted vegetables for a luxurious open faced sandwich.
A standard in vegetarian cuisine for years, it has recently gained popularity in the Paleo diet as well, which uses lots of fresh vegetables and simple recipes.
Some people like this recipe chunky style and mix it up with a fork in the bowl as simply as they can. Others like a smoother consistency and prefer to put everything in the food processor and blend. Whichever way you choose, it is fabulous served fresh, but even better when left for the flavors to blend overnight in the fridge.
1 large or 3 small eggplants – any kind will do but I prefer the Japanese style
2 TBS – 1/4 cup tahini – a paste made from roasted sesame seeds
1-2 TBS lemon juice – fresh preferred
3-6 cloves of garlic
pinch of salt
Preheat oven to 500F or high broil. Poke eggplant all over with fork to pierce the skin and place on roasting pan. Broil/cook for 10 minutes turning every few minutes to char the skin. Reduce oven to 400F and continue to cook for 30 minutes.
At the same time, peel 6 cloves of garlic and place in a small piece of foil. Drizzle with olive oil, wrap foil closed, and place in oven along with eggplant for 20 – 30 minutes or until very soft.
Once eggplant is very soft and the skin is almost burnt, remove it from the oven and let cool slightly. When you can handle it, scoop out the flesh into a bowl or food processor. Add the tahini, lemon juice, roasted garlic, and a pinch of salt, and mash with a fork until blended, or pulse with the food processor until it reaches the desired consistency. More or less tahini can be added to change the consistency and texture.
If you want more garlic zip and bite, you can add the garlic to the dish raw. Roasting garlic gives it a sweeter, more mellow flavor that blends nicely with the smokiness of the eggplant.
Serve drizzled with olive oil.
To change the flavor or add variety try one of the following add-ins:
fresh parsley, cilantro, basil, or mint
1/4 tsp cumin or black pepper
roasted red pepper or tomato
pomengranate seeds or juice