I know this has a funny name, but for anyone who has never tried baba ghanoush do not let the name scare you. This is a Middle Eastern dip/spread/salad that is made of eggplant. It is often served as a starter to a meal, but can be used as a side dish as well. It is popular from Morocco to Israel and many countries have their own spin on it.
My recipe is adapted from a recipe my sister Kathleen got from her mother-in-law who happens to be from Morocco and Israel. I have seen many different versions of this dish but the reason I like mine is, A – it is easy, B – you do not need any additional equipment like a food processor and C – it does not require babysitting the eggplant over an open flame. The cook time is over an hour. But most of the time the eggplant is just roasting in the oven and you only need to check on it every 15 minutes or so.
Because my version cooks the eggplant in the oven as opposed to over an open flame there is not really a smokey taste to the baba. I personally do not mind, but if you want a smokier version you could either roast the eggplant over a gas burner or cook it on an outdoor grill using the same method I describe. I will also forewarn you that you really get the taste of garlic and lemon in my recipe. If those are not flavors that you particularly like you can always use half the amount I suggest. I do strongly suggest taking the time to paste up the garlic so that no one bites down on a large chunk.
This is a really easy recipe to double, triple or even quadruple if you are making it for a crowd. I like to serve it with pita bread, pita chips, crudites, challah or as an accompaniment to meat or chicken. It can also be made the day before you plan to serve it.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 60 minutes, plus 30 minutes cooling time
Yields: 4-8 servings
1 large eggplant, light in weight
1 clove garlic, pressed or very finely chopped
Juice of half a lemon
½ cup light mayonnaise
Freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Place the eggplant on a baking sheet lined with tin foil. Prick the eggplant on all four sides with a fork.
Place the eggplant into the oven on the middle rack. Cook the eggplant for one hour total rotating it every 15 minutes. Once the eggplant is cooked through it will appear deflated. Set it aside to cool.
While the eggplant is cooking you can make the sauce. Chop the garlic or press it. Add a generous pinch of kosher salt to the garlic. With the back of your knife mash the garlic and drag it against the cutting board to create a paste.
Place the garlic paste into a large bowl. Squeeze in the juice of half a lemon and add the mayonnaise. Add a few grinds of black pepper and stir everything together.
Refrigerate the mayonnaise mixture while the eggplant continues to cook.
Once the eggplant is cool scoop out the flesh from the inside, discarding the peel. Place the eggplant into a strainer and let it sit for 30 minutes to an hour so that most of the juices drain.
Chop the eggplant into small pieces and add to the mayonnaise sauce. Mix well and serve chilled.