If you like baba ghanoush as a dip, how about as a salad dressing too? It’s got the smooth tang of eggplant and tahini, flavored with lemon, garlic and olive oil. It’s a creamy, vegan salad dressing with no egg or mayonnaise. This recipe describes how to make both.
Eggplant’s distinctive flavor with the nuttiness of the tahini, the acidic pop of lemon juice and a touch of garlic will transport you right to the Mediterranean.
This recipe came about when I was trying to make egg-free mayonnaise, and found eggplant recommended as an egg substitute. That trial came out very oily, and when I thought of increasing the eggplant and decreasing the oil, I realized I was on my way to Baba Ghanoush anyway.
What is baba ghanoush?
According to Wikipedia, the word combination baba ghanoush or baba ghanouj could mean “spoiled old daddy,” among other things, with the baba part meaning daddy. Not speaking Arabic, I could speculate that you’d make baba ghanoush for a daddy who was complaining about dinner not being ready? Or maybe for someone who can’t chew?
Baba ghanoush (the dip) is typically served with extra olive oil on the side for drizzling. It’s a great dip for pita bread, or raw vegetables such as tomatoes, cucumbers and bell peppers. It’s really not such a stretch, then, to make it into a salad dressing.
The recipe below first describes how to make your own baba ghanoush, then dilute it. Or you can use store-bought baba ghanoush for the dressing. The amount of water you will add to your dressing depends on how thick the baba ghanoush is and how drizzly you want your dressing, so adjust as needed.
Even the smallest of eggplants (1 pound) will give you more baba ghanoush than you will need for the dressing. You can save your baba ghanoush for up to 5 days in the refrigerator and then make another batch of dressing with it. But at our house it usually just gets nibbled on before that can happen.
I use my Cuisinart stick blender for the dip and the dressing. Note in the directions that you will be removing most of the seeds from the eggplant once it is roasted. This is because the seeds can give the dip some bitterness if they get chopped up as you make the baba ghanoush in a food processor or high-speed blender.
I find that the less powerful mixing of the stick blender is just enough to puree the dip without chopping the seeds, and it’s easier than the traditional fork-mashing technique. Then the transition to dressing needs only a spoon.
Other dips and dressings you may like
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Kitchen items used in this recipe
I have suggested my favorite olive oil, which is from California. In a dip like baba ghanoush, the olive oil should be dark yellow-green and smell like olives.
I have just recently discovered this Once Again tahini. It’s smooth and flavorful, nutty without tasting bitter, which can be a problem with some brands of tahini.
A rimmed baking sheet is really helpful for roasting the eggplant and not having to worry that any olive oil will drip off the edges.
And last but not least, the faithful Cuisinart stick mixer. This one comes with the clear container shown in my photos. It is such a helpful device I should probably write a separate post about it! And although there are many similar items, I think Cuisinart has the best warranty.
I hope you will enjoy this recipe and let me know in the comments how it turned out!
Baba Ghanoush Dip and Salad Dressing
For the Baba Ghanoush
- 1 medium eggplant about 1 lb. total, cut into 1 inch slices, plus olive oil to brush on
- 2 tablespoons tahini
- 2 cloves garlic roasted or 1 clove raw, pressed - see instructions
- 1/2 fresh lemon juiced, or more to taste
- 1/2 tsp salt or more to taste
- Pinch cayenne pepper
- Cumin or coriander optional (pinch of each to taste)
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil plus more to drizzle
For the salad dressing
- 1/2 cup store-bought or homemade baba ghanoush
- 2 tablespoons olive oil or other mild oil
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons water or more as desired
For the Baba ghanoush
- Slice the eggplant, place the slices on a rimmed baking sheet and brush lightly on all cut surfaces with olive oil. If you want to use roasted garlic in your baba ghanoush, place the unpeeled cloves on the baking sheet with the eggplant.
- Bake for about 20 minutes at 400 degrees F or until the eggplant is soft when poked with a fork. Allow to cool.
- Remove any large areas of seeds with a spoon and discard.
- Scrape the remaining eggplant flesh off the skin into your stick blender container. I usually only remove the skin if there are large areas of it, such as from the two side-slices of the eggplant.
- Add the tahini, garlic, lemon, cayenne and salt to the blender container. Pulse until the ingredients are well blended but not pureed smooth; the texture should be as if fork-mashed.
- Taste and add more salt or lemon if needed. I’ve had baba ghanoush that had so much lemon I couldn’t eat it, so don’t overdo. The lemon will not only complement the flavors and enhance the salt, but will keep the eggplant from turning brown.
- Spoon into a bowl, reserving ½ cup for your dressing.
- Drizzle with olive oil, also depending on the preferences of your eaters. Serve with pita chips or vegetable dippers.
For the dressing
- Mix the 1/2 cup baba ghanoush, olive oil, lemon juice and water together. Taste and adjust in case it needs more salt or even more cayenne pepper.
- Add more water depending on how thick you like your dressing. The thicker it is, the more it can stand up to greens that still have water on them. It will thicken in the refrigerator too, since olive oil solidifies when cold. Because of this, you may wish to spoon the dressing on rather than pour.