I know I’ve been MIA for a while but life has been very busy. If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I am currently in the Middle East visiting my family. I had a few Fall recipes I wanted to share before I left but I didn’t get the chance. I got sick the week before we left and I spent that week cleaning, organizing, packing and doing some last minute shopping. Our journey to get here was long but needless to say, my daughter and I arrived in one piece and have been enjoying ourselves.
One of my favorite things about being home is spending time with family and enjoying all the delicious food the Middle East has to offer. One thing, I noticed, that this part of the world has a plethora of, is sesame- lots and lots of sesame and tahini which is sesame paste. Those two things make me extremely nervous! I love sesame and I love tahini but, unfortunately I can’t have them in my house because my 3 year old has a serious sesame allergy. I always carry around an EpiPen and pray that she doesn’t come in contact with it. She is very well aware of her allergy and knows what sesame looks like so she can avoid it. She also knows she can’t have certain foods because they contain tahini.
Baba Ghanoush or Muttabal, as my family calls it, is an eggplant dip, similar to hummus but made with eggplant instead of chickpeas; making it Paleo and Whole30 friendly. The recipe I am sharing contains tahini. Don’t worry, when I made this at home, my daughter was in her room playing, the kitchen was sanitized afterwards and it was stored far from her reach.
I’ve had baba ghanoush many times in my life but my favorite, by far, is the one my dad makes, it’s his specialty. I don’t know what it is, but I think his technique is what makes it special. The smokiness of the eggplant mixed with the tanginess of the lemon, tahini and garlic is what does it. While most people pulse or puree the eggplant in a food processor, he chops it, giving it a more appealing texture.
One thing I learned during this process, is that eggplants are tricky. You don’t know what you’re going to get until you cook it. The eggplant I used at home was very seedy and full of little tiny black seeds. While I took most of the seeds out, it just wasn’t a good eggplant for baba ghanoush. The eggplant I used at my parents house had no black seeds. If your eggplant is seedy, it will still be delicious but it won’t be as creamy.
Baba ghanoush is another popular item on a mezze table and is popularly dipped with fresh pita bread. We ate this as a side with grilled chicken and vegetables but I like to eat it on its own or dipped with fresh vegetables or vegetable chips. However you choose to eat it, I hope you enjoy making this recipe as much as I did.
- 1 large *eggplant (about 2 pounds)
- 1 crushed garlic clove
- 2 tablespoons tahini
- juice of 1 lemon
- teaspoon sea salt
- **Smoke the eggplant (See notes below)
- Let it cool for a bit, remove the ends and peel it.
- Using a sharp knife, finely chop the eggplant.
- Mash with a fork.
- In a large bowl, mix all your ingredients together until well incorporated and creamy.
- Add more salt and lemon if needed.
- Arrange beautifully on a plate and finish with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
There are a few ways to smoke the eggplant. You can either broil it in the oven until it’s fully cooked, making sure you turn it so it doesn’t burn or you can bake it at 425°F between 25-40 minutes and then broil it for a few minutes. My new favorite way to cook it, is on the grill. High heat for about 20 minutes, turning it so all sides get charred. When my dad and I made it together, he put the whole eggplant on the stove in a large pot, covered it and just let it cook. He kept turning it and sprinkled a little bit of water when it would stick so it wouldn’t burn. The end result was a perfectly charred eggplant ready to be made into a delicious baba ghanoush. After it was cooked, he let it cool for a bit and the skin peeled off easily.
*Arabic word for eggplant: betinjan