A light and healthy Middle Eastern eggplant dip bursting with smoky flavor. This simple baba ghanoush recipe makes for a great appetizer.
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If you’ve never tried baba ghanoush, you’re missing out. This Middle Eastern eggplant dip is out of this world. It’s so simple to prepare and makes for a great appetizer. Baba Ghanoush is also a perfect way to utilize eggplant. I used to work at a Middle Eastern restaurant and I would bring a small plate of it home with me at the end of my shifts. This restaurant makes some of the best baba ghanoush ever and I’ve been on a life-long quest to create a recipe that fills the void now that I no longer work there. I feel like I’m on the right track with this one.
Eggplant is one of my favorite things to grow in the garden. It’s super low maintenance – one plant provides tons of fruit (yes, eggplant is a fruit) and never has any trouble with pests or rot or other garden woes. If you do grow eggplant, you may find yourself wondering what to do with all of it once it starts producing. The great thing about eggplant is that it’s kind of a blank canvas. It soaks up just about any flavor you add to it. Eggplant is hearty and meaty but kind of delicate at the same time.
To prepare the baba ghanoush, start by heating the oven to 400 degrees. As the oven is heating, cut the eggplant in half lengthwise and place it flesh-side down onto a baking sheet covered in foil. Cut a number of slits through the skin of the eggplant with a small knife. Drizzle a Tbsp. or so of olive oil under the eggplant and brush it along the sides where the skin meets the foil. This will help prevent it from sticking. Bake for 35-40 minutes. The eggplant will soften as it bakes.
After it has baked, remove the pan from the oven and flip the eggplant over. Yes, it looks kind of funky. At this point, you can scoop the flesh into a mixing bowl. You can throw it all in there – the soft inner flesh and the caramelized outer flesh, the seeds, and the oils that have seeped out. The only part you don’t want is the skin itself. Once you have done this, let the eggplant cool for 15-20 minutes before mixing it with the other ingredients.
The other ingredients include tahini (a condiment made from ground sesame seeds), lemon, garlic, and salt. I like to add one secret ingredient to my recipe. That secret ingredient? Smoked paprika. Baba ghanoush is traditionally made by grilling the eggplant and this creates its characteristic smoky flavor. I didn’t feel like firing up the grill, so I cheated by harnessing the power of smoked paprika.
Throw everything in the food processor: this includes the cooled eggplant, 2 Tbsp. tahini, the juice of 1 lemon, 1-2 cloves of garlic, 1/4 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. smoked paprika. There are a few caveats to this process. Baba ghanoush should be slightly chunky – you don’t want to puree it any more than necessary. I find that grating the garlic into the food processor instead of adding it whole allows you to do this. After all of the ingredients are added, pulse a few times to combine. This will give you the texture you’re after.
The last step is to cut a few pieces of pita bread into triangles and arrange on a baking sheet. Bake the pita pieces for 6-8 minutes at 400 degrees. This will give you a nice vehicle to devour the baba ghanoush. Scoop the baba ghanoush into a serving bowl and add 1/4 tsp. smoked paprika on top of it. Stick it in the middle of the pita chips and you’ve got a great appetizer. Sliced vegetables would work nicely as well. You can double the recipe if serving a larger crowd. Or, if you just find yourself craving more baba ghanoush.
- Heat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Line a baking sheet with foil.
- Cut the eggplant in half lengthwise and place on baking sheet flesh side down.
- Rub the bottom and sides of eggplant with olive oil to prevent sticking.
- Cut 10 or so slits in the flesh of each eggplant.
- Bake for 35-40 minutes or until soft.
- Scoop out the insides of the baked eggplant into a bowl and let cool completely.
- Add cooled eggplant, tahini, lemon juice, grated garlic, salt, and half of the smoked paprika to a food processor. Pulse a few times to blend. The dip should remain slightly chunky.
- Cut a few pieces of pita bread into triangles and arrange on baking sheet.
- Bake for 6-8 minutes or until slightly crisp.
- Scoop baba ghanoush into a serving bowl and add other half of smoked paprika on top.
- Arrange pita chips around the dip for serving.
Recipe can be doubled to serve more people.
Baba ghanoush stays fresh in the fridge for a few days if covered.