Baba Ghanoush with Za’atar and Smoked Paprika Oil

Baba ghanoush is simple to make with a combination of eggplant, tahini, lemon juice, garlic and salt. My version is topped with a killer za’atar and paprika oil that you can make while the eggplant is cooking.

Traditionally, baba ghanoush is made by charing eggplants over a woodburining fire. This method provides the deep smokey notes that make baba ghanoush so delectable. For the home cook, the grill is the closest method to use. However, if you are like me and do not have a grill BUT have a gas stove, the method outlined in this recipe is for you! The flame of the gas stovetop can be used to blacken the skins of the eggplant before they go into a 425 degree to finish cooking.

Adding smoked salt further enhances the smokey flavor – no wood-burning fire needed! Let’s be real – there is no way to get the same flavor profile without actual smoke, but the smoked salt, smoked paprika, and blackening process make for a great apartment-friendly rendition of this delicious dip.

The za’atar and smoked paprika oil is made by simply heating olive oil over medium for 2 minutes until hot (but not bubbling or smoking) then adding in the spices. The oil is then set aside to cool and infuse all that flavor love as you finish the dip. It is straight up dreamy!

Baba Ghanoush with Za’atar and Smoked Paprika Oil

Servings: makes about 2 cups

Time: 1.5 hours

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 lbs. of eggplant
  • 3 tbsp. tahini
  • 2-4 tbsp. lemon juice (start with 2; adjust to taste)
  • 2 garlic cloves 
  • 1 tsp. smoked salt
  • 3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. za’atar
  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika
  • veggies, pita, or other items of choice for serving

How-to:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. 
  2. Pierce eggplant a dozen or more times with a fork. This keeps it from popping open and exploding in the oven. 
  3. Turn gas burner onto medium high. Place eggplant on the grate directly over the burner. Allow to blacken on each side (2-3 minutes) before flipping. Make sure the skin actually chars – you will be able to smell it. *See notes on how to be careful using this method.*
  4. When the eggplant is charred and blackened on all sides, place on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and into the preheated oven. Cook for 30 minutes. 
  5. While the eggplant is cooking, prepare the za’atar and smoked paprika oil by heating olive oil over medium until hot but not smoking or bubbling. Add the za’atar and smoked paprika to the oil. Stir. Remove from heat and allow to cool while finishing the rest of the recipe. 
  6. After 30 minutes of cooking, flip the eggplant and place back into the oven for another 20-30 minutes until eggplant skin is wrinkled and eggplants are starting to collapse (which indicates the flesh is very soft inside). 
  7. When cooked, set eggplant aside to cool. When cool enough to handle, peel skin off and scoop flesh out into a bowl. Add tahini, lemon juice, minced garlic, and smoked salt to the bowl and stir/mash until desired texture is reached. There should be some small chunks of eggplant for textural contrast, but it should be mostly smooth. 
  8. Make a well in the baba ghanoush with the back of a spoon. Pour za’atar and smoked paprika oil into the well. 
  9. Serve with pita, veggies, or other items to scoop up your baba ghanoush.

Notes:

  • To safely char the eggplant on your gas stove: 
    • Be sure to stand there the entire time while it chars to watch it. 
    • Generally, when it starts smoking flip it over. Do not let a bunch of sparks start flying. 
    • If the juice starts dripping out a lot into the flames, flip it. 
  • This recipe might make more oil than you need – use the rest on meat, over veggies, in rice, on top of avocado toast, anyway you like! It will keep it’s fresh flavor for at least a week at room temperature. 

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