“But why would I make baba ganoush if I could just eat hummus?” Mara asked when we set out to make the ultimate baba ganoush recipe. At that moment, I couldn’t help but shrug my shoulders. Hummus is generally awesome and baba ganoush is often, well, weird.
Then we nailed the method and ingredients you see here, and neither of us could stop scooping up more. Baba ganoush, when you get it right, is irresistibly smooth and luxurious, smoky, and savory.
In its most basic form, baba ganoush is made with eggplant, tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and salt. I found that adding a tiny bit of ground cumin, smoked paprika and fresh parsley takes it to the next level.
Baba ganoush is similar to hummus, but it calls for grilled or roasted eggplant instead of chickpeas. Both dips originated in the Eastern Mediterranean, and they’re often served together with pita bread and raw, crisp veggies. You can use baba ganoush like you would hummus—as a dip or spread.
There are a few considerations when it comes to baba ganoush. First up: do you grill the eggplant or roast it? I don’t have a grill, so I roasted my eggplant.
To make up for the grilled flavor, I halved the eggplants and roasted them cut-side down for caramelized deliciousness. (Roasting them halved also means that your eggplant cooks faster, and you don’t risk an entire eggplant exploding inside your oven.) Using smoked paprika as a garnish adds some extra smokiness, too.
Roasting the eggplants until they’ve collapsed on themselves helps concentrate their flavor and ensure that your dip is silky-smooth. At that point, it’s easy to flip over the eggplant and scoop out the insides. Peeling the skin off eggplant is not my idea of a good time!
The next consideration is how to extract as much moisture from the eggplant as possible. Fortunately, our roasting method has already helped eliminate a lot of it. Just let the eggplant rest in a strainer for a few minutes and stir it to release even more.
The next question—do you mix the dip by hand or whip it up in your food processor? I’m a big fan of my food processor, but it isn’t necessary for this recipe. Baba ganoush traditionally has some texture to it, and roasted eggplant readily falls apart when you stir it with a fork.
My last tip is to salt the dip generously—eggplant is inherently bitter, and salt reduces that bitterness. This dip isn’t truly epic until it’s properly seasoned with salt. Can I call my own recipe epic? Oh hell, I’m doing it! This baba ganoush is epic.
Basic baba ganoush is always vegan, gluten free and nut free. That makes baba ganoush a great party appetizer for guests who are following special diets—as long as your accompaniments fit the bill. I like to serve my baba ganoush with sturdy raw veggies like carrot sticks, cucumber rounds and bell pepper sticks. Toasted pita wedges or pita chips are great, too.
For a full Mediterranean spread, serve this baba ganoush with herbed hummus, and fresh salad(s). My top picks would be this carrot, chickpea and dill salad, Lebanese lemon-parsley bean salad, my favorite quinoa salad, or Maureen’s avocado tabbouleh. Here are even more Mediterranean recipes!
Epic Baba Ganoush
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 35 minutes
- Total Time: 55 minutes
- Yield: 6 servings
- Category: Appetizer
- Cuisine: Lebanese
This baba ganoush recipe is the best! It’s easy to make, too (no food processor required). You’ll need eggplant, tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and spices. Recipe yields about 1 ¾ cups (enough to serve 4 to 6 as an appetizer).
- 2 pounds Italian eggplants (about 2 small-to-medium eggplants*)
- 2 medium cloves of garlic, pressed or minced
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice, more if necessary
- ¼ cup tahini
- ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing the eggplant and garnish
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, plus extra for garnish
- ¾ teaspoon salt, to taste
- ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
- Pinch of smoked paprika, for garnish
- Serving suggestions: warmed or toasted pita wedges, carrot sticks, bell pepper strips, cucumber slices, etc.
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit with a rack in the upper third of the oven. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper to prevent the eggplant from sticking to the pan. Halve the eggplants lengthwise and brush the cut sides lightly with olive oil. Place them in the prepared pan with the halved sides down.
- Roast the eggplant until the interior is very tender throughout and the skin is collapsing, about 35 to 40 minutes (this might take longer if you are using 1 large eggplant). Set the eggplant aside to cool for a few minutes. Flip the eggplants over and scoop out the flesh with a large spoon, leaving the skin behind.
- Place a mesh strainer over a mixing bowl, then transfer the flesh to the strainer and discard the skins. Pick out any stray bits of eggplant skin and discard. You want to remove as much moisture from the eggplant here as possible, so let the eggplant rest for a few minutes and shake/stir the eggplant to release some more moisture.
- Discard all of the eggplant drippings, drain and wipe out the bowl, and dump the eggplant into the bowl. Add the garlic and lemon juice to the eggplant and stir vigorously with a fork until eggplant breaks down. Add the tahini to the bowl and stir until it’s incorporated. While stirring, slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Continue stirring until the mixture is pale and creamy, and use your fork to break up any particularly long strings of eggplant.
- Stir in the parsley and cumin. Season to taste with more salt (I usually add another ¼ teaspoon) and more lemon juice, if you’d like a more tart flavor.
- Transfer the baba ganoush to a serving bowl and lightly drizzle olive oil on top. Lastly, sprinkle parsley and smoked paprika on top. Serve with accompaniments of your choice. It’s also great on sandwiches!
*Eggplant selection: Large eggplants tend to contain more seeds, which can produce a bothersome texture. So, it’s better to use 2 small eggplants that weigh about 2 pounds total, rather than 1 large. Choose eggplants that are shiny and smooth (no mushy parts), and feel heavy for their size. Turn your eggplant into baba ganoush promptly, since overripe eggplant tastes more bitter.
Storage suggestions: Leftover baba ganoush can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for about 4 days (I think it’s best served fresh, but some say it tastes better after a day or two). I like to let my leftover baba ganoush warm to room temperature before serving, but others prefer it chilled, so I’ll leave this up to you.
For a lighter dip: You can reduce the olive oil to as little as 2 to 3 tablespoons. Your dip won’t be as rich and creamy, but it will still be very good!