I’m going to let you in on a little secret here.
I don’t like tahini.
Oh, I’ve made my peace with it when I buy hummus or go to a Greek or Middle Eastern restaurant, but I’m still not a fan of the flavor.
But I do love Baba Ghanoush.
And Baba Ghanoush needs a little something to bind the dish together. Since tahini is out for me, I need something else. Olive oil is too thin. Ground nuts too strong. Which means I have a dilemma! Enter mayonnaise. It’s creamy, mild, always in my fridge, and it both binds and lightens the dip in one glorious dollop.
Since I’m the only one in the family who likes eggplant, this is not something I make too often, but it does make onto the table once or twice a year. Basically, I make it whenever I can no longer resist all the pretty eggplants at the market and I have to buy a few. However, the upside is that I never have to share my Baba Ghanoush. It’s all mine.
You can see how the eggplants are starting to get blackened in the top picture. This is a good start, but they are still way too firm and not nearly soft enough. I have in the past pulled off my eggplants before they were falling apart soft and I’ve regretted it. If you look at the bottom picture you will see how wrinkled and soft the eggplants look all over. This is what you want. I did pull them off with my tongs but I had the bowl right there because the other thing you don’t want is for the eggplant to go splat.
After you get them off the grill, put them in a colander set over the bowl and let them drain and cool. This will both save your fingers as you try to get the flesh scraped off the skin and also allow the bitter juices to drain away. If you are very sensitive to the bitterness of eggplant I would suggest using smaller eggplants since they tend to have a milder flavor.
I like my Baba Ghanoush smooth, smooth, smooth, so I process it well past the chunky, choppy stage. If you like a less smooth dip, just pulse it until it is the texture you like.
Once you have your dip all made, you can serve it right away while it is still warm. (When I was taking these pictures, mine was fresh and still warm and I had a great deal of trouble not eating it all before I even finished photographing it. Food blogger problems.)
You can also let it chill and thicken for an hour or so in the fridge. Or you can make it ahead and serve it the next day. Just let it warm up a bit before serving so that the flavors will be stronger.
I like to serve my Baba Ghanoush with cucumbers and with toasted pitas. To toast the pitas I heat up a small fry pan, spray or brush the pitas on both sides with some olive oil, cook for 1-2 minutes, then flip over and cook another 1-2 minutes. You want them a little toasty and crisp and nicely warmed through. I find this really improves the flavor of supermarket pita.
- 2 large globe eggplants (about 2 lbs), or equivalent in smaller eggplants
- 2 cloves garlic, blanched and pressed
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- ¼ cup mayonnaise
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tbsp parsley, chopped
- Heat grill to high.
- Wash eggplants and then poke them thoroughly. If you don't poke the skin the steam will build up in the eggplant while grilling it and it will split and make a mess.
- Grill the eggplant, turning every 5 minutes or so, at least 25 minutes for large eggplants. Check smaller ones for doneness starting at 15 minutes. You want the eggplants to be charred all over their surface and so soft that you are worried about being able to pick them up and put them in the bowl. (If you are really worried use a nice, wide spatula to scoop them up.) If you are not sure they are soft enough, give them another 5 minutes because there is nothing worse than undercooked baba ghanoush.
- Once they are finished grilling, transfer the eggplants to a colander set over a bowl. Let them drain and cool for 20-30 minutes.
- When the eggplants are cool enough to work with, start splitting them open and scraping out the flesh from the skins. I do this in the colander to allow more of the juices to drain off.
- Put peeled eggplant, garlic, lemon juice, salt, mayonnaise, and olive oil in the food processor. Pulse ingredients until the dip is as coarse or as smooth as you like. Start with a coarser, choppier texture, about 8 or 9 pulses, and try it before processing it more.
- Adjust salt to taste. Transfer dip to a serving bowl, drizzle some olive oil on top, and sprinkle the parsley over it. (The dip can be made one day ahead - cover with plastic wrap and put in the fridge. Allow to warm up to room temperature before serving.)