Back to Basics: Eggplant (Baba Ganoush)

In by Madison Mayberry4 Comments

A few weeks back, I issued a challenge to J. – each week pick out one vegetable you’ve never cooked before and learn how to cook it. I promised to guide him through the process, thinking it would be a less-intimidating way to approach cooking and learning new skills. 
While I helped him cook asparagus over the phone, I decided I could use a bit of my own advice. Typically, unless I have a specific recipe in mind, I tend to buy the same veggies every week: broccoli, green beans, cauliflower, asparagus, lettuce, tomatoes, avocados, sweet potatoes and summer squash. Consequently, the eggplants, hot peppers and cabbages, among others, get overlooked. But not this week! This week was the week of the eggplant. 
When it comes to eggplant, I’ve found that people have some pretty strong opinions. You either love it, or you hate it – there doesn’t seem to be much wiggle room. I can’t put a finger on why this veggie is so polarizing, but I do think baba ganoush is the middle ground eggplant lovers and haters can meet at. For those unfamiliar with baba ganoush, it’s probably best described as eggplant’s equivalent to hummus. Used as a dip or spread, baba ganoush is a simple, healthy middle eastern staple. 
And since health is her specialty, I went to Ellie Krieger for the recipe. Of course, like most hummus recipes, this baba ganoush recipe called for tahini, or sesame seed paste. But I’m far too cheap to break down and buy an entire jar just to use a few spoonfulls, so I substituted a little bit of purchased hummus and called it good. The result was a slightly tangy, smooth spread with a zippy lemon finish that made a fresh compliment to toasted slices of French bread.
Side Note: A few months ago, I partnered with Better Homes and Gardens and General Mills to create and film some fun snack videos. They are up on the web now, and you can see them here!
Homemade Baba Ganoush 
Adapted slightly from Ellie Krieger’s Babaganoush
*1 large eggplant 
*2 cloves garlic, minced
*1/4 to 1/2 tsp. salt 
*1/4 cup chopped fresh basil or 2 Tbsp. dried basil
*2 Tbsp. hummus 
*2 Tbsp. lemon juice
*Bread or pita chips (optional)
*Preheat oven to 450°F.

*Prick eggplant with a fork and place on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Bake the eggplant until it is soft inside, about 20 minutes. Let the eggplant cool. Cut eggplant in half lengthwise, drain off the liquid, and scoop the pulp into a food processor. Process the eggplant until smooth. Add in the garlic, salt, basil, hummus and lemon juice and continue to process until well combined.
*Serve on toasted bread or with pita chips. Garnish with additional fresh or dried basil, if desired.

Happy Cooking!