The Sauce: Baba Ghannouj – A Middle Eastern eggplant dip with tahini, garlic, fresh lemon juice and regional spices. The smoky, creamy vegetarian dish is scooped up with toasted pita bread wedges or crisp pita chips.
Weaving middle eastern mezza dishes
Middle Eastern Mezza or Meze is like Spanish Tappas, small varied dishes of meat, beans, vegetables and grains with rich regional flavors. Often served for lunch, before the main dinner course or for appetizers at a party, everyone can spoon morsels onto their small plate or dip with pita bread or chips. This is the third edition in a continuing thread of interlacing meze recipes. The first two are Hummus and Falafel with Tzatziki Sauce.
Baba Ghannouj is made with roasted eggplant, a royal purple vegetable with light yellow flesh. Roasted along with the eggplant, the aromatic garlic becomes mellow, golden and easily melds into the dipping sauce. The smoky flavor and rustic color invites the eyes and the palette with a traditional garnish of pomegranate seeds.
Recipe: Baba Ghannouj
Prep Time: 10 Min | Inactive
Time:45 Min | Cook Time: 1 Hour 40 Min | Yield: 2 1/2 Cups | Level: Easy
- 3 lbs eggplant, about 2 large
- 1 garlic bulb
- 2 Tbsp tahini
- 5 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 4 tsp olive oil, divided
- pomegranate seeds
1 Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2 Using a fork, poke lots of holes in the eggplant skin and place on a baking sheet lined with a rack.
3 Slice the top off the garlic bulb and place on a small sheet of foil. Drizzle with 1-2 teaspoons of olive oil and wrap so the steam won’t escape. Place on the rack with the eggplant.
4 Roast in the oven for 60 minutes. Turn the eggplant over and take the garlic out to cool. Continue roasting the eggplant for 40 more minutes. Let cool for 20 or more minutes until cool enough to peel.
5 With a mesh strainer placed over a bowl, begin peeling the eggplant with your fingers placing the flesh in the strainer. Allow to strain the liquid for 20-30 minutes.
6 Place the flesh in a food processor. Squeeze the garlic out of the skins into the food processor. Add the tahini, lemon juice, smoked paprika, cumin, salt and pepper. Process until smooth.
7 Place in a bowl with the remaining drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle with pomegranate seeds. Serve with pita bread or chips.
Poking the eggplant in multiple places helps prevent it from exploding. Make sure the eggplant is cooked until very tender. Straining the flesh helps keep the texture thick enough for dipping consistency.
Spell it ghanoush, ghanoush or other local variations, it’s perfect alone our served in a bevy of mezza dishes.
- Exchange eggplant for Japanese eggplant but reduce
cooking time since they are smaller and thinner.
Inspiration – Saucy Cuisine Kitchen
Cook with Sauces
Written by Helen Horton
Photographs by Helen Horton
Updated: November 1, 2012