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Eggplant Dip: Creamy Baba Ganoush Recipe
Recipe for Baba Ganoush (baba ganush, ghannouj, ganouj, ghannoug or babaganoosh)
Strolling through a market in Peru is a purely sensual experience: the perfume of mangoes filling the air, the cacophony of buyers bargaining for goods and the sight of brightly hued vegetables.
Eggplant is a winner in the looks department. With its smooth, purplish-black skin and curvaceous shape, it's hard to pass by. Seduced by its beauty, I often end up with a bagful then find myself wondering what to do with so many eggplants.
Although not a fan of eggplant, my husband finds them perfectly delicious disguised as baba ganoush. A dip or spread of Mediterranean origin, baba ganoush became popular in the United States with the rise of vegetarianism in the 1960s.
But you don't have to be a vegan to enjoy baba ganoush. Fabulous served with crackers, veggies or pita bread, its haunting flavor is smoky and complex. What if you don't have tahini, one of the traditional ingredients? Although it can be found in many modern grocery stores, you'll find a substitution below that is both authentic and tasty. Enjoy!
What is Tahini?
Tahini is a thick paste made of sesame seeds that imparts a unique, nutty flavor to many Middle Eastern dishes. If you can't find it where you live, why not make it at home?
Toast 3 cups of sesame seeds in a 350 Fahrenheit oven for about 10 minutes, or until light golden brown. You can also toast them in a dry skillet on the stove, stirring them constantly so they don't burn. Burnt sesame seeds make bitter tahini. Toss the lightly toasted sesame seeds into a blender or food processor container with 1/2 to 3/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil and blend until a smooth, medium-thick paste forms.
My favorite commercial brand of tahini is Al Wadi (see Amazon capsule below). Creamier and nuttier than homemade tahini, it's all-natural and comes in unbreakable plastic jars. We used to take up valuable suitcase space on our trips back to Peru from the United States, but now we order from iherb.com. Iherb ships any package less than 4 pounds to Peru for only $4!
- Authentic baba ganoush should be nuanced and smoky. Roasting yields a milder baba ganoush. If you'd like smokier flavor, broil eggplants for 10 minutes before roasting.
- For still smokier baba ganoush, season the dip with smoked salt.
- If the eggplants are large, cut them in half before roasting. Moisten the cut side with olive oil and bake (cut side down) on a baking sheet for about an hour.
- Since the delicate flavor of eggplant is easily overwhelmed, it is best to go light on the tahini, cumin and garlic.
- Lemon juice brightens the dip.
- For light and creamy texture, whip the baba ganoush in a blender.
- For authentic texture, pulse ingredients in a food processor until blended but still chunky.
Creamy Baba Ganoush
- 4-6 medium eggplants (about 2 pounds)
- 3 Tablespoons tahini paste
- 2 small garlic cloves
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 3 Tablespoons lemon juice, freshly squeezed
- 1/4 teaspoon cumin, ground
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- chopped parsley and paprika, for sprinkling
- For smokier dip broil eggplants for 10 minutes until charred.
- If eggplants are very large, cut them in half. Grease cut sides with olive oil and place them on a foil-lined baking sheet. If small or medium-sized, place whole eggplants on the foil-lined baking sheet. Roast at 500 Fahrenheit for 40-50 minutes or until eggplants are very soft.
- Let them cool and scoop out the pulp. Discard the skins. You should have about 2 cups of eggplant pulp.
- Place all ingredients in the container of a blender or food processor. Pulse until chunky or blend until light and creamy, according to preference.
- Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with parsley and paprika.
- Serve with crudites, crackers, pita bread, etc.
- Out of tahini? Replace it with mayonnaise or yogurt for a light and smoky dip.
- Add one finely chopped tomato and one roasted red pepper for garden tahini dip.