When I told the girls I’d made baba ghanoush, the seven-year-old said, “Oh! I didn’t realize that was a real thing.” Poor kid never had a chance to know. For her whole life, Cope has been using “baba ghanoush” as a fake answer to questions. Daddy, what comes after a trillion? Baba ghanoush. It’s not what made him marriage material, I’ll say that much. But now that the girls are getting older, I no longer have to decide whether to spend some of my daily marital goodwill allowance on rolling my eyes at that kind of baba ghanoush. I wouldn’t have the chance if I wanted to. The girls are all over it.
Perhaps you yourself are older than seven and/or do not have a dad who likes to see you roll your eyes — and perhaps you are already aware that baba ghanoush is a real thing. Good on ya! Did you also know that it’s simple to make at home? And that it’s packed full of complex flavor that all comes from a short list of healthy ingredients?
I totally knew all that, and I totally think about baba ghanoush kind of a weird amount. Still, I hadn’t thought to make it in quite a while, until I saw this post from Marc at No Recipes and simply couldn’t rest until I made it. And ate it all in one day. Daddy, why is mommy passed out on the dining room floor with a big smile on her face? Baba ghanoush, girls. Baba ghanoush.
Easy Baba Ghanoush Recipe (Vegan and Gluten Free)
The key to making great baba ghanoush lies in not being afraid to char the bejesus out of the eggplants -- it gives the flesh a beautifully smoky flavor after you peel away the skin. You can do it directly on a gas burner, on a grill, or in a broiler. The skin should be completely black and the center of the eggplants thoroughly cooked before you call it a day. Just don't forget to tear open the shutters and throw up the sash (and turn on the exhaust fan) so the house won't smell too smoky. (Very special note here: the Amazon link below is an affiliate link. But also, those tongs -- which I use daily in the Umami Girl kitchen -- are being sold on Amazon by Cope because he does awesome stuff like that from time to time.)
- 2 medium eggplants (about two pounds total, but don\'t sweat it)
- 1/3 cup tahini
- Juice of one lemon
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Olive oil, for drizzling
- Chopped fresh parsley or cilantro, to garnish
To char the eggplants, either set them directly on a lit gas burner or grill, or place in the oven a few inches below the heat source with the broiler on high. Allow the skin to turn completely black and flaky on the first side, then turn the eggplants with long-handled tongs to begin charring on the next side. Continue turning the eggplants every few minutes until all sides are charred. The process will take 10 to 15 minutes. You'll know you're done when all the skin is charred and the eggplants are soft all the way through to the middle. Expect some drips and minor flare-ups. It's worth it. (But please be careful.) Set eggplants on a plate to cool.
When eggplants are cool enough to handle, remove the stems and peel away and discard as much of the skin as possible. You want to get rid of most of it, but don't worry if there are little bits left on here and there.
Add the eggplant flesh, tahini, lemon juice, garlic, salt, cumin, and pepper to a food processor fitted with the blade. Pulse to blend thoroughly. (Alternatively, you can grate the garlic on a rasp and then just mash up all the ingredients in a bowl with a fork.) Taste and adjust seasoning.
Scrape baba ghanoush into a serving bowl, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with parsley. Serve with pita wedges or crackers.