I love suggestions on new recipes to try. It never occurred to me to actually make homemade Baba Ghanouj (a.k.a. Baba Ghanoush). I usually just buy it from somewhere like Pita House or Falafil Hut (It’s a really weird holt-in-the-wall restaurant. Hit or miss every time I’ve gone. The employees will pull change out of their pockets and they forget half your order). Eggplant lovers definitely should try to cook this.
At the store, buy:
- 1 eggplant, about 1 lb.
- 3 Tbsp. Tahini (try Valli Produce or Caputo’s)
- 1 lemon
- 1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
- 2 cloves garlic, pressed
- 2 Tbsp non-fat Greek yogurt
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1/2 can black olives
- 1 1/2 tsp. Cumin
- 1/2 tsp. cayenne
- 1 Tbsp. black pepper
I’ve never cooked eggplant before as I haven’t found a recipe yet that sparks my taste bud’s interest. Apparently it is a lot like cooking squash. Easy enough.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Farenheit. Cut the eggplant in half lengthwise, place on a foiled baking sheet and poke at it all over with a fork as shown below. Cook for around 20-30 minutes until the eggplant looks shriveled and softened, like aged skin.
In the meantime, in either a blender or food processor (depending on how smooth you like your dip) add all ingredients. As usual, I am in love with the Pampered Chef Garlic Press, and this will save you from sticky, smelly fingers. A more authentic version would use Kalamata olives, but black olives are a little easier on the wallet and to find in the store.
When the eggplant has cooled, scrape out the insides tossing the skin away. Here’s where I found squash, especially spaghetti squash, much more appealing. It will mush out with your fork in little spaghetti like strings. The eggplant just clumps out like a semi-hard, half-cooked potato would.
You can either scrape the pulp of the eggplant into a bowl or directly into the food processor/blender. Blend on high for 2-5 minutes until you find your desired creaminess. Since I used the food processor and added olives, my spread came out smooth but chunky. This was probably from the ingredients, other than the eggplant and olives, having a liquid or creamy, even texture to them.
Finally, disperse out the Baba Ghanouj uniformly in a large but not thick glass tray. Drizzle olive oil on and top with parsley, paprika or cumin for garnish.
Serve with wheat bread Sandwich Thins cut into triangles, pita bread , veggies, naan or pita chips.
I personally liked the wheat bread Sandwich Thins because it had a sweet taste to add to the cuisine, and took away from the eggplant essence. If you actually prefer to taste the eggplant in the side dish, this is probably not the route to take. I’d try carrots or pita bread which is more bland and will accentuate the dip flavor.
I thought this would be the perfect thing for my mom to eat while she’s unable to chew anything crunchy and feeling swollen. Unfortunately, she isn’t a fan of Mediterranean flavor combinations like cumin, lemon juice yogurt and tahini. I, too, still haven’t found an eggplant meal that is appealing – yes, a vegetarian that despises eggplant. But this was edible. But, as a new wine connoisseur, I thought why not branch out on my food too. The day-old version was actually better than the freshly made, still warm form. The spices had a chance to seep into the other ingredients. It was also cold, which personally, I found more pleasing.
I did bring my leftovers to Dani for her in-favor-of-eggplant-meals opinion. She loved it. She put a large lettuce leaf on a plate, topped that with half hummus, half Baba Ghanouj and placed homemade Falafel balls on top (which is another recipe I need to try).
The addition of olives helped bring a salty, hearty taste to the slightly sour lemon juice, greek yogurt and pungent eggplant. It only had a hint of the eggplant flavoring in it, and the addition of the spices was a must. The tahini mellowed out the bitter eggplant and sour lemon leaving a manageable thick appetizer, or side salad if you’re in Egypt, a staple in the attempt of Mediterranean dishes.