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Eggplant doesn’t have a strong foothold in American cuisine, and that needs to change. I’m surprised by how many adults I’ve met who’ve never eaten it, and others who won’t touch the stuff unless it’s covered in marinara and mozzarella. I love eggplant parm as much as the next girl, but there’s so much more to this versatile ingredient. Expand your eggplant palate in the most delicious way with this ultra creamy baba ganoush dip.

Baba ganoush is a dip or spread common in Mediterranean food, with origins in Lebanon (read more about the history and etymology here). This sturdy spread is sometimes compared to hummus, and although they share some ingredients and might hail from the same region, they are their own thing—two beautiful snowflakes who should be appreciated as such. They’re both blended until smooth, and they’re both dips that can include tahini and olive oil. But where hummus is thick and dense, baba ganoush has a much lighter, fluffier texture. Hummus tastes like, well, mashed-up chickpeas, but baba ganoush doesn’t taste like un-sauced eggplant parmesan. It tastes smoky, roasted, tangy, savory, and a little bitter. These flavors are flexible and can pair up with everything from mini meatballs to grilled carrots, or you can keep it simple with hunks of soft pita bread. The consistency is thick enough to spread onto a burger bun, but light enough to scoop up with a salty chip and not feel overwhelmed.

One of my favorite things about baba ganoush is that it’s relatively nutritious and, like my recipe below, you can make it very low-fat. Its primary ingredient is cooked eggplant, with a few supporting characters that transform it into a luxurious dip. Many recipes will add a healthy aliquot of olive oil to emulsify the fibrous fruit as you blend it with tahini and lemon juice, but it’s adjustable. Blending it at home allows you to control the texture. I’ve had baba ganoush that was pulsed (some recipes just smash it up with a fork), and others that are nearly whipped from the blender. Whatever texture you like is what’s best.

The following baba ganoush recipe uses Greek yogurt instead of olive oil. I do this because I like the additional tangy flavor of the yogurt and it just so happens to make the dip luscious. It’s also a great solution if you prefer to eat lower-fat foods, if you like yogurt, or if you ran out of olive oil. Roast the eggplant cut-side down to keep the fruit from drying out and to promote even browning—just be careful to avoid catching any of the more bitter eggplant skin as you scoop out the flesh.

There are a multitude of eggplants out there, but you can make this with the common dark purple one in your grocery store or farmers market. Look for medium to large ones that feel plump, have a smooth, shiny skin without wrinkles, and no visible bruising. This creamy dip will have you ready to explore the wonderful world of eggplant in no time.

Ultra-Creamy Baba Ganoush Dip

Ingredients:

  • 2 large eggplants
  • 1 clove of garlic (roughly chopped)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon of ground cumin
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • ¼ cup of plain Greek yogurt

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a sheet tray with foil and lightly coat the foil with oil. Slice the two eggplants in half lengthwise and lay them cut-side down on the oiled foil. Poke a couple holes in the skin to act as steam vents. Place the eggplants in the oven to roast for 30-40 minutes or until they easily give-way when pressed with a wooden spoon. If the narrow part of the eggplant is still hard, continue roasting for another 10 minutes.

Set the eggplant aside to cool for about 10 minutes. Once they’re cool enough, flip them over carefully so they’re skin-side down on the foil. Juice will run out, and that’s fine. Place a colander over a bowl next to the tray. Scoop out the eggplant flesh into the colander and give it a couple pokes and presses to get most of the water drained out. Then put the eggplant into the blender. Discard the water and the eggplant skins.

In the blender, add all of the remaining ingredients to the eggplant pulp. Pulse or blend until you reach the desired consistency. Eat with kibbeh, smear it on a hot dog, or dip chips into it. Leftovers keep, covered, in the fridge for up to six days.

   



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