Lebanese Baba Ghanoush: Heritage Recipe

This Baba Ghanoush is totally creamy, decadent, and has a wonderful balance of smoky and tangy flavor from the roasted eggplant and the lemon. I love that it’s super versatile like hummus. It pairs with pita bread, vegetables, pretzels, crackers or even as a condiment in your favorite sandwich.

Lebanese Baba Ghanoush

This Lebanese inspired Baba Ghanoush is made with only 4 ingredients: oven-roasted eggplant, lemon juice, tahini & garlic – a great alternative to hummus!

HOW TO MAKE THIS BABA GHANOUSH RECIPE

ROAST THE EGGPLANT

The first step is to roast the eggplant. The traditional way to prepare the eggplant is to broil it over an open flame or grill it on a wood burning fire. That’s what gives it the strong smoky flavor. I opt for the easier faster method of just roasting it in the oven for 45-60 minutes. Because let’s face it not everyone wants to or can roast it over a wood burning fire these days.

You can wrap it in aluminum foil or skip that part. I personally line a cooking sheet with parchment paper, oil the eggplant, add salt and pepper to taste, and put it face down to roast in the oven. Once it’s soft to the touch and wrinkly, I remove the flesh and pulp to use in the dip, discard the skin- It does not blend well.

BLEND THE INGREDIENTS

Next, it’s time to blend everything together. You can use a food processor or a blender. I’ve made it with both appliances, and had successful results each time. You can literally throw everything in the blender together at once. Or you can blend the tahini, garlic and lemon juice first to get a smooth and creamy sauce and then just pulse the roasted eggplant. The final consistency will depend on your preference. Some like it chunky; and others prefer it to be as smooth as hummus.

TIPS FOR MAKING BABA GANOUSH

  1. Select high quality ingredients. There are only 4 ingredients in this homemade baba ghanoush recipe. Because of the minimal items, it’s important that each of those ingredients is high quality. That means fresh garlic, fresh lemon juice and tahini made with only sesame seed paste.
  2. Strain the eggplant to remove excess liquid. You can strain the whole eggplant or chop it into smaller pieces and strain it that way. I usually just let it sit for 10 minutes in a colander to cool and release excess liquid. This step is not mandatory.
  3. Adjust the ingredients to your taste. When it comes to baba ghanoush, and actually most Lebanese dips, you can really tinker with the proportions to make it your own. So adjust the tahini, make it more lemony or more garlicky to your taste.
  4. Allow the dip to set in the fridge. You’ll notice that the dip will get thicker as it cools and sets in the fridge. That’s because any liquid released from the roasted eggplant in addition to the natural fats from the tahini will solidify.

INGREDIENTS  

  • INGREDIENTS
  • 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 { See below for substitution suggestions]
  • 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.

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Stir in the parsley, salt 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.
  6. 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!

Need to substitute the Tahini? Check out these options:

THE BEST SUBSTITUTES FOR TAHINI

Once you taste tahini and see how versatile it is in the kitchen, it is possible you will want to use it all the time. This is great, until you run out and need it for your favorite dish.

One of the best things about tahini is that is quite easy to make at home; therefore, the best substitute for an empty jar of store-bought tahini is to simply make your own.

However, that may be a bit too time intensive depending on what you are using it for. So, before getting into how to make your own tahini sauce at home, here are six tasty alternatives you can use instead of tahini, in most recipes.

1. SUNFLOWER BUTTER

Sunflower butter is made from processed sunflower seeds. It is the best overall alternative for tahini sauce because it has a similar mild earthy and nutty flavor, that is not as strong as some other nut butters.

It is also a nut-free option, so that those who are allergic to nuts can use this easily to replace tahini. Sunflower butter can be found in many grocery stores. It is also easy to find in health food stores. Just like tahini is easy to make, you can also easily make your own sunflower butter!

For the best taste, lightly toast a cup of sunflower seeds in a skillet. Then, toss them in a blender or food processor and add a tablespoon of a neutral oil like canola oil. Blend until smooth. Add more oil as needed to reach the desired consistency, as well as salt to taste.

Whether using homemade sunflower butter or store bought, you can use sunflower butter in an equal 1:1 substitute for tahini in any recipe.

2. CASHEW BUTTER

Cashew butter is another great alternative for tahini sauce because of its neutral flavor. While it won’t be an exact flavor exchange for the tahini, of all the nut butters, this is the milder choice.

This is a nut butter though, so if someone you are cooking for has a nut allergy, you will want to avoid this as an option.

Cashew butter can be used in a 1:1 ratio for tahini butter in any recipe.

3. ALMOND BUTTER

Like cashew butter, almond butter will offer a similar smooth consistency that is often the goal of a recipe that calls for tahini. Almond butter has a more distinct taste though, so it won’t work well in all recipes.

The best recipes to use almond butter in are those that you don’t mind a stronger nuttier flavor. Baked goods, like cookies, are great choices.

Almond butter can also work in certain salad dressings or sauces where a pronounced nutty flavor would be tasty.

Use Almond butter as an equal exchange in a 1:1 ratio for tahini sauce.

4. PEANUT BUTTER

Of all the nut butters, peanut butter has the least similar flavor profile to tahini sauce. The great thing about peanut butter though is that you probably have some in your cupboard right now.

We love a substitute that is always on hand! Peanut butter has the same smooth creamy consistency (don’t buy chunky!) of the other nut butters and tahini sauce.

This makes it a good choice for similar recipes that you would use almond butter as a substitute for.

Use peanut butter in a 1:1 exchange for tahini sauce in recipes that you don’t mind having a stronger nutty flavor.

5. OTHER NUT BUTTERS

While cashew, almond, and peanut butter are the most common nut butters used in booking, you could use any nut butter you like or have on hand. Macadamia nut butter, Brazil nut butter, and pecan nut butter would all work similarly as substitutes.

Just as with the others, be mindful that each one will offer its own unique flavor profile to the recipe.

FLAVOR NOTE FOR NUT BUTTERS

If you have sesame oil on hand, you can add a small amount to your nut butter to enhance the savory flavor. This will allow you to use any nut butter as a better substitute in a stew, soup, or other savory dish.

Sesame oil is quite strong, so start with just a ¼ teaspoon and add more if needed.

MAKING NUT BUTTERS

If you have nuts on hand, you can make your own nut butter the same way that you make sunflower butter. Since nuts already have a pronounced flavor, you do not need to toast them; however, it can help to soak them for a few hours in a cup of cold water.

Soaking them prior to blending softens the nuts. It also helps provide a less sharp flavor for the final nut butter.

6. BLACK SESAME PASTE

This is a substitute that you may not have in your kitchen, but if you find it at a local Asian market, could be used. Black sesame paste is a Japanese condiment that is made in similar fashion to tahini using un-hulled black sesame seeds.

This Japanese style tahini has a richer taste than tahini but can be a delicious flavor addition to baked goods – especially those that include a chocolate base. It can also be used in savory dishes that have a darker sauce.

Use black sesame paste in a 1:1 exchange for tahini in dishes where you do not need or desire the naturally lighter color offered by tahini.

7. GREEK YOGURT

Greek yogurt can work in place of tahini in a handful of recipes. It has the same creamy texture that tahini offers to many dips and dressings. It does not have the complex flavor that tahini offers though.

Since the yogurt will not enhance the flavor, it is best to use this as substitute when you only need it for texture. Another thing to keep in mind is that Greek yogurt will often curdle in hot dishes, so stick to cold recipes like dips and dressings.

If a recipe calls for small quantities of tahini, a ¼ cup or less, then exchange with Greek yogurt in an equal 1:1 ratio.

If the recipe calls for more than a ¼ cup, begin by using half the amount in Greek yogurt and adding more as needed or balancing it out with another substitute. Too much yogurt could dimmish the flavor of the dressing or dip.

8. HOMEMADE TAHINI SAUCE

If you find you use tahini quite frequently in your cooking, you may do well to make your own tahini at home. This way you always have some on hand!

WHAT YOU WILL NEED:

  • Hulled Sesame Seeds (look for the white sesame seeds)
  • Neutral Flavored Oil (canola or grapeseed oil are both great options)
  • Salt

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Heat a dry skillet (no oil or butter) over medium heat.
  2. Add 1 cup of sesame seeds to the skillet and stir frequently to toast on all sides.
  3. Toast seeds for about 3-5 minutes or until they begin to become fragrant.
  4. When seeds offer a nice, toasted aroma, take them off the heat and transfer them to a food processor.
  5. Add 3 tablespoons of oil to the blender and blend (depending on your oil and the consistency you want, you may need to add more oil).
  6. Add a ¼ teaspoon of salt and continue to blend.
  7. Taste the tahini and add more salt or oil if needed; continue to blend until you reach your desired taste and consistency.

Use your homemade tahini sauce in all your favorite recipes, just like you would the tahini you buy in the store!

Transfer your tahini sauce to an airtight container and keep refrigerated for up to 1 month.

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