A New Spin on Baba Ganouj: Roasted Eggplant Dip

The 4th of July holiday weekend is upon us, and with that comes a flood of BBQs and summer get-togethers where you will undoubtedly want to bring something to share.   It's always tough to decide what to bring to someone else's house, especially if you don't receive specific instructions ("Can you bring potato salad?").  I think the natural inclination is to want to bring a dessert, because undoubtedly people will always enjoy a good brownie or piece of cake.  However, if you're looking for something a little different, this dip is it.

To be honest, I've only recently started to dabble in the world of the eggplant.  I think the dark purple color and sponge-like texture always threw me off before.  As far as dips go, I was raised under the assumption that chip dip make with Lipton's Onion Soup Mix, served with a bag of Better Made Potato Chips of course, was just about the best thing ever.  I started making my own hummus several years ago, but I had never given Baba Ganouj a shot in the kitchen.

To start with, if you want to start making Middle Eastern dips, get yourself some tahini.  It is a paste that's made from sesame seeds and used in both hummus and baba ganouj.  In addition, if you pick up a copy Mollie Katzen's Vegetable Heaven, she'll teach you how to use it to cook carrots, soup, and even cookies!

This dip is not your traditional baba ganouj, which means that you definitely shouldn't feel constrained to only serve it with pita bread.  In fact, if you're serving some potato chips at a BBQ, this dip could easily take the place of your French Onion Dip, and I promise that you won't get any complaints.  It is full of rich, smoky flavor and is the perfect consistency for dipping vegetables, bread, chips, or crackers.

*Note: If you're serving this dip to kids, I recommend peeling the eggplant first.  That way, the evidence that there is a dark purple vegetable lurking in the dip will be completely destroyed.  I also recommend doing this if you're serving any finicky adults.

The eggplant and the garlic in this dip are roasted together, lending that deep, smoky flavor that makes this dip really delicious.  I used the traditional tahini and lemon juice, but I also added in some non-fat Greek yogurt to give the consistency of a sour-cream-based dip.  To add a little bit of heat, I threw in a bit of hot sauce, and the amount can be adjusted depending on how spicy you like your dips and what's being served with the dip.

C had never actually eaten traditional baba ganouj before, but he liked this even better than hummus.  I don't think that any one dip is necessarily better than any other, but this dip definitely has a deeper, more complex flavor than most.  I served it with some thinly-sliced cucumbers, and it was the perfect way to start the meal.

Roasted Eggplant Dip (Makes about 4-6 servings)
1 medium eggplant (about 7 inches), peeled or not, and cut into 1-inch cubes
2 large cloves of garlic
Salt, pepper, and olive oil for roasting
3 Tablespoons tahini
Juice from 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cumin
5-10 dashes of hot sauce*
1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt (I use nonfat)
Optional toppings: chopped parsley and a drizzle of olive oil

*Tabasco Sauce and Frank's Hot Sauce work well for this (I used Frank's this time), but if you like even more heat, you could put in a few dashes of habanero hot sauce. The trick is to add enough heat to flavor the dip, but not so much that it masks the flavor of the eggplant and roasted garlic.  I recommend adding 5 dashes of hot sauce to start, and then if it's not enough when the dip is finished in the food processor, you can add 1-2 dashes at a time, run the processor again, and give it another taste.  You may get to 10 dashes and want to add a couple more, but it's always easier to add than subtract.  If you do get carried away and add too much, just add some extra yogurt to tone it down.  No harm done.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Prepare a half sheet baking pan with a piece of parchment paper.

1. Place the chopped eggplant and 2 unpeeled cloves of garlic on the prepared pan.  Drizzle with about 1 teaspoon of oil and sprinkle some salt and black pepper on the top, and toss to combine.  The eggplant will absorb the oil like a sponge, which is fine, but don't feel like you need to douse it with more just because it doesn't have that glossy coating that other veggies get.
2. Roast the eggplant and garlic at 425 degrees for about 20 minutes, until the edges are browned and the garlic cloves are tender.
3.  Let the eggplant and garlic cloves cool, and then peel the garlic cloves and transfer the garlic cloves and eggplant to the bowl of your food processor.  Add the tahini, lemon juice, salt, cumin, 5 dashes of hot sauce, and yogurt.  Process for about 1-2 minutes, stopping 2-3 times to scrape down the sides of the bowl, until the mixture is smooth.  Taste to check the seasonings.  Add more salt and hot sauce as needed and process again.

4.  Transfer the dip to a serving dish and refrigerate until you're ready to serve it.  Serve with thinly-sliced cucumbers, red pepper strips, pita bread, pita chips, or anything else you can think of!

The dip can be made a few days in advance and stored in the refrigerator.  You can also roast the eggplant and garlic a day or two in advance and keep it refrigerated until you're ready to make the dip.

This dip makes about 1.5 cups of dip, or about 6 servings of about 1/4 cup.  This dip has no cholesterol and is high in fiber.  Here are the nutrition facts for one serving of dip:

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 111 g
Amount Per Serving
Calories from Fat 
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 
Saturated Fat 
Trans Fat 
Total Carbohydrates 
Dietary Fiber 

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