Baba Ganoush is a creamy eggplant dip that’s perfect for healthy snacking or for rounding out a big Mediterranean appetizer platter. Serve with Stuffed Grape Leaves, Marinated Olives, and Tabbouleh for an amazing spread.
Hummus gets all the popularity when it comes to Mediterranean dips, but I think Baba Ganoush is better. It’s creamy, rich, smoky, and fresh, all while being compatible to pretty much any eating style. It’s dairy-free, gluten-free, vegan, and full of healthy ingredients.
And unlike hummus, you don’t need a food processor or any fancy equipment to make it!
What is Baba Ganoush?
Baba Ganoush is a dip made primarily of roasted or grilled eggplant, accented in a similar way as hummus, with olive oil, tahini, lemon, spices, and herbs.
I first tried this glorious dip at Daniel Boulud’s Mediterranean Restaurant Boulud Sud in NYC, along with a bunch of other dips I had never heard of before (Muhammara is another Mediterranean dip that I’m waiting to catch on).
Seriously, if you haven’t tried baba ganoush before, it’s time. It’s one of my “regulars” that I make every couple of weeks.
Tips for Best Results
Start with the right eggplant – You will want to purchase the Globe variety for this recipe, which is the classic large purple eggplant. Do not use thin Japanese eggplants here. Also, too often at the store the eggplants are already halfway rotting and soft. If this happens, abort mission and try again another day. They should feel very firm to the touch, and the outside should look unblemished. If they feel squishy or you notice any sunken spots, they are already turning bad.
Roast or grill the eggplant – The two best ways for cooking the eggplant are to either roast in the oven or cook on the grill. Roasting in the oven is more convenient, but grilling gives the dip a better flavor.
Allow ample time for the eggplant to drain – This is the most important secret for good baba ganoush. I’ll show you down below that a LOT of water will drain out of the eggplant, which is a good thing, because it makes the dip less watery and more intensely flavored.
Add a touch of smoked paprika – If you’re grilling the eggplant instead of roasting, this is unnecessary, but otherwise, I recommend adding a touch of smoked paprika. It’s an easy way to add a slightly smoky flavor.
How to Make It Step by Step:
Decide if you will roast the eggplant in the oven or on the grill.
My rule of thumb is that if I’ve got some grilling planned for some other meal, I’ll piggyback on the grill’s heat and cook some eggplant in there so I can make this dip. But if I don’t have the grill going for something else, or if the weather is crummy, I just roast in the oven. It still makes for excellent dip.
Roast the Eggplant in the Oven
To cook the eggplant, set the whole pieces directly on a sheet pan.
Roast for about an hour, until the eggplants are collapsed and the skin is very wrinkly.
You can see that when I push the flesh down with a spoon, it’s basically collapsed into nothing:
Side note: I don’t prick the eggplants with a fork. When roasting things like sweet potatoes, eggplants, or anything else with a whole skin around it, I think it cooks better when there aren’t breaks in the skin. I have never had any of these vegetables explode in the oven during cooking, but feel free to pierce the skins if you feel better about it.
Scoop Out the Insides from the Skin
Slit the skins with a sharp knife, then use a spoon to scoop out the insides:
Make sure to really scrape the skins well, removing as much eggplant as possible.
Then, you’ll want to discard the remaining skins:
Let the Eggplant Drain
Place the scooped eggplant in a fine meshed strainer, and let it drain for at least 15 minutes, but preferably 30-45 if you’ve got the time.
You’ll notice that a substantial amount of liquid will drain from the eggplant:
Discard this liquid. We don’t want the baba ganoush to be watery!
Add the Flavorings
Place the drained eggplant in a large bowl, and add extra virgin olive oil, tahini, fresh lemon juice, fresh parsley, pressed garlic, salt, pepper, smoked paprika, and cumin.
Stir everything together until it’s well mixed, then taste and adjust the seasoning as necessary.
What I love about NOT using a food processor or blender, is you can see that it’s smooth, but still has bits of texture. It’s perfect.
How to Serve It
Pita bread is my favorite pairing, but sometimes I’ll eat it with carrot sticks, sliced radishes, or cucumbers. I also like this dolloped onto Zucchini Fritters or spread onto Sourdough Discard Flatbread.
Tips and FAQ:
Keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Since the eggplant is already cooked down, it fares okay in the freezer for 2 months, but in general I don’t recommend freezing this dish. It tastes best fresh.
Absolutely! Though it will keep for 5 days, I recommend not making more than one day ahead, for the best flavor. Flavor starts to degrade as it ages.
- 3 lbs Globe eggplants (I had 3 medium)
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 5 tbsp tahini
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves chopped
- 2 garlic cloves pressed (1 tsp pressed garlic)
- 1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika (if you grill the eggplant instead of roasting, you can use regular paprika)
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- To cook the eggplant, you can either roast it in the oven or cook it on the grill. Roasting is more convenient, but grilling gives a better flavor. I usually only grill it when I'm grilling something else too.
- To Roast: Preheat the oven to 450F. Place the whole eggplants on a sheet pan and roast for 55-60 minutes, until the eggplant has collapsed and the skin is very wrinkly (see blog post photo if necessary).
- To Grill: Set the heat to around 450F. Place the whole eggplants directly on the grill grates and cover the grill with a lid. Let the eggplant cook for 50-60 minutes, until the eggplant has collapsed and the skin is very wrinkly.
- Slit the skins open with a sharp knife and use a spoon to scrape all the insides out with a spoon. Make sure you really scrape right against the skin to get that eggplant as well, but try not to include any actual pieces of skin in the mix. Discard the skins.
- Put the flesh into a fine mesh strainer set over a bowl, to allow the eggplant to drain, for at least 15 minutes. I like to do 30-45 minutes if I have the time.
- Place the drained eggplant into a bowl and add the remaining ingredients. Toss well to distribute the flavors, then taste it and adjust the seasoning as necessary.
- Serve with pita bread or chips, carrots, sliced radish, or whatever else strikes your fancy. Keep leftovers stored in the fridge, for up to 5 days. Enjoy!
Nutrition is estimated using a food database and is only intended to be used as a guideline for informational purposes.