This week's recipe is another traditional Lebanese dish called baba ganoush a Lebanese dip that is often served as a first course in large family meals. This dip was born from the love of a daughter towards her father, and means pampered papa. According to old Arabic folklore originating in Syria, there was a caring daughter who mashed all of the food she cooked for her elderly toothless father, or baba, as he was unable to chew. One of the vegetables she mashed was eggplant, with the addition of olive oil, lemon juice, and tahini. This led to the popular baba ghanoush that we enjoy today.
- 1 large eggplant
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 tbsp tahini paste
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 tbsp lemon juice, more if you like
- Salt and pepper
- 1/2 tsp to 1 tsp cayenne pepper (eliminate if you prefer mild)
- 1/2 tsp sumac, more for garnish
- Toasted pine nuts for garnish
- Parsley leaves for garnish
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Trim the top of the eggplant and cut in half, and using your knife, make a few slits in the skin.
- Sprinkle the eggplant flesh with salt and let it sit for a few minutes to “sweat out” it’s bitterness, then dab dry.
- Place the eggplant halves, flesh side down, on a lightly oiled baking sheet then drizzle with olive oil. Bake in the 425 degree F heated-oven for 30-40 minutes or until the eggplant fully softens through. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
- When the eggplant has cooled, scoop the flesh out and transfer to a colander. Let drain for 3 minutes.
- Transfer eggplant flesh to the bowl of a food processor attached with a blade. Add the tahini, garlic, lemon juice, salt, pepper, sumac and cayenne. Pulse or run the food processor ever so briefly just until everything is blended (avoid over-blending).
- Transfer the baba ganoush spread to a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate for an hour (if you don’t have the time, try refrigerating for a few minutes to let the flavors meld and the baba ganoush thicken a bit.) Just before serving, top the baba ganoush with a sprinkle of sumac, olive oil, toasted pine nuts and parsley leaves. Enjoy with a side of warm pita bread.
- To grill eggplant instead: If you would like to grill or smoke the eggplant instead of roasting, skip steps #1 and #2. Instead, place the whole eggplant over a gas burner turned on high (or an outdoor grill.) Using a pair of tongs, turn the eggplant every 5 minutes so until it is completely tender and the skin is well charred and flaky (about 15 to 20 minutes.) Don’t worry if the eggplant deflates, it’s supposed to. Remove from heat and let the eggplant cool, remove and discard charred skin, and follow the recipe from step #4 on.
- Recipe Note: This recipe will serve 4 to 5 people, you can simply double it to serve a larger crowd.
- Pro-Tip: For best results, allow the baba ganoush to cool and thicken in the fridge for an hour or two before serving.
- Pro-Tip to Ensure Thick Consistency: If you want the baba ganoush to be more chunky, don’t use the food processor. Instead transfer the eggplant to a bowl, add the remaining ingredients (making sure the garlic is minced first), and mash everything with a fork until well-combined.