Saturday, August 17, 2013

Baba Ganoush

A couple weeks ago, our dear friend Anne was throwing a small wedding shower for her niece, who also happened to be my best friend in elementary school.  She was having a Middle Eastern theme (think Red Tent) and I was helping her out with good Middle Eastern snack ideas.  Our plan originally was to head to Worcester to buy what she needed, but she had a crazy schedule that weekend, so I came up with an equally crazy idea: what if I just made what she wanted to serve?  She already had other people bringing things like hummus and desserts, and all she needed was baba ganoush and spanakopita.  So I took on the catering job happily!

The baba ganoush was the first item I tackled.  It was actually quite easy.  For those of you not marrying a Middle Eastern man, baba ganoush is a pureed eggplant dip.  It is kind of similar to hummus, with cumin, lemon, tahini and (roasted) garlic, but it uses eggplant instead of chickpeas.  If you like eggplant, you'd love baba ganoush.  And if you don't love eggplant (who are you!?), at least you'll enjoy saying baba ganoush because it might be the most fun food name on earth.  Go ahead, you know you want to say it aloud right now.  Baba ganoush.

Anyway this dip was (luckily) easy, and it was simple to whip up 4 batches of it for the shower (with a little left home for us!)  Most recipes call for the eggplants to be charred on an open flame.  No open flames here (and I hope to never have a gas stove either, while we're on the subject), so I just roasted my eggplants as this recipe suggests.  Once they are roasted and peeled (which was a messy job but rather enjoyable), the insides are pureed (not too much though; rustic and chunky is good!) with the other flavorings.  It is supposed to be chilled, but I kind of fell in love with it being a tiny bit warm.  It is served with vegetables and/or pita bread.  And it is bound to be a hit.
Note the eggplant skin massacre in the background! :)


baba ganoush
from Daring Gourmet

1 large eggplant
3 garlic cloves, peel on
2-3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, according to taste
1/4 cup tahini
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt plus more depending on size of eggplant
extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
chopped fresh cilantro for garnishing
pinch of paprika for garnishing


1) Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Poke the eggplants all over with the tines of a fork.  Place it on a baking sheet with the garlic and roast until tender, 40-45 minutes.  Remove the garlic after 30 minutes and remove the peel.  Remove the eggplants from the oven, let cool 10 minutes, and then remove the peel.

2) Place the eggplant, garlic and tahini in a food processor and process until fairly smooth but not completely pureed.  Scrape the mixture into a bowl and add the lemon juice, cumin and salt.  Stir thoroughly to combine.

3) With the back of a spoon, make a swirl in the top of the baba ganoush.  Drizzle olive oil in the swirl grooves, and sprinkle with paprika and fresh cilantro.

4) Serve immediately with toasted pita wedges, flatbread, or vegetables.

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