Eggplant is one of those vegetables that is hard to figure out. Its taste is subtle and perhaps a little nutty. Consistency can be a bit mushy when cooked, and it is bitter when raw. It looks impressive in shape and purply color, and has been the subject of many pieces of art. But when prepared the right way? It’s delicious. And believe me, this easy Baba Ghanoush recipe shared with me by a friend is velvety, tangy, smokey and oh-go-good.
Ever since I was a little kid, I loved the eggplant parmigiana recipe my Italian nana and mom would make for Sunday dinner. So I learned to love eggplant at a young age. And I’ve convinced our kids to like it too. I just don’t tell them what they are eating is actually eggplant LOL.
What is Baba Ghanoush Anyway?
Baba Ghanoush is a traditional Arabic eggplant dish, originating from Lebanon. Other cultures have similar versions, including Israeli, Armenian and other Middle Eastern cultures. According to Wikipedia, “Baba Ghanoush” can be loosely translated to “indulged/pampered/flirtatious daddy”. Sounds good to me!
Whatever you choose to call it, we call it delicious.
Use Fresh Eggplant for This Easy Baba Ghanoush Recipe
The best eggplant recipes begin with fresh eggplant. Whether you get yours at the local farmers market, the grocery store, or like me you grow them in your backyard, fresh eggplant is the bomb when prepared correctly.
I start by picking my eggplants from the vegetable garden early in the morning. It’s best to drain the excess liquid from a raw eggplant before cooking it. For some recipes, slicing the eggplant and salting it helps to leach out the extra liquids. I like to slice the bottom off a whole eggplant and place it standing up in a colander to drain.
Origins of the Eggplant
Eggplant is a member of the nightshade species family, related to tomatoes, peppers and potatoes. It is cultivated around the world for its flavor and inclusion in many cultural dishes. There are many varieties, including the traditional purple version we are most familiar with. Other common varieties include Japanese eggplant, which is long and skinny, and Thai eggplant which is green and globe-shaped. Regardless of variety, the flavors are very similar although consistency can vary to firm and dense or soft and mushy.
Easy Baba Ghanoush Recipe Made with Fresh Eggplant
The secret to a good baba ghanoush recipe is the smokey flavor notes. If you have a smoker or a barbeque you can add wood chip to, great! You can achieve that smokiness this recipe needs.
If not, you can still grill the eggplant as instructed below, and add a little helper splash of Liquid Smoke. If you don’t know this product, it’s like a strong smokey flavor in a bottle you can buy at the supermarket. Just remember, a little goes a long way.
I like to make this dish in the morning, so the eggplant – and ultimately the baba ghanoush – have time to cool.
Ingredients for Easy Baba Ghanoush Recipe
- 2 small to medium size fresh Italian eggplants
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
- 1/3 cup tahini paste
- 2 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt
- 1 teaspoon sumac
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon Liquid Smoke
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- Salt and pepper to taste
For the topping:
- 2 tablespoons roasted pine nuts
- 1 tablespoon cilantro leaves, stems removed and coarsely chopped
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Instructions to make Easy Baba Ghanoush Recipe
- Cut bottom off eggplants and place standing up in a colander in the sink to drain for 20-30 minutes.
- Grill eggplants on barbeque over medium-high heat for about 20 minutes, turning regularly to char all sides (don’t be afraid to blacken it!).
- Remove eggplants and place back in colander in sink to drain and cool for one hour.
- When completely cooled, peel off and toss away charred skin and stems. Place eggplants in large mixing bowl.
- Using a fork, mash the cooked eggplant into a soupy mix.
- Add all remaining ingredients and stir well to combine.
- Cover and place in refrigerator for at least an hour.
- When ready to serve, place baba ghanoush into a wide but shallow serving bowl. Pour olive oil over the top and sprinkle with pine nuts and chopped cilantro.
I like to serve this easy Baba Ghanoush recipe with crunchy pita chips. It’s also equally delicious with fresh pita wedges for a softer experience.
This dish is also great served with fresh vegetable spears for dipping. I use long slices of cucumber, carrot sticks, red bell pepper strips and sometimes roasted asparagus spears.
This easy Baba Ghanoush recipe is terrific when accompanied by salty feta cheese cubes. We love it with pitted Mediterranean olives as well.
Like Middle Eastern Food?
If you enjoy Middle Eastern and Mediterranean flavors, try serving this easy Baba Ghanoush recipe as an appetizer. Then make one of these delicious chicken dishes as the main course for a fully immersive Mediterranean feast!