Baba Ghanoush with Cumin & Coriander Spiced Sesame Seeds
“A delicious dip made with roasted eggplant and topped with spiced, toasted sesame seeds.”
“Baba what?” Don’t be alarmed, it’s a real word and it’s real food. Baba Ghanoush is a delicious dip of Middle Eastern descent. It’s made with roasted eggplant, tahini, garlic and lemon juice and can be found alongside hummus and pita bread at Middle Eastern restaurants. It’s an easy-to-make spread that also happens to be nutritious.
People seem to either love or strongly dislike eggplant (you simply cannot hate a vegetable!). Growing up I was definitely in the “strongly dislike” category when it came to eggplant. It was never served at my house and I never had much exposure to it. Because of that, I decided I just didn’t like it. Or so I thought. A few years after I graduated from college, I moved to a big city and got to experience all kinds of cultures and new foods. It was here that I experienced Middle Eastern food for the first time and here where I first met eggplant. It came in the shape of something called Baba Ghanoush. I didn’t order it, but a friend who was seasoned in Middle Eastern cuisine did. When it came to the table I had no idea what it was, but it smelled and looked delicious. I took one bite and I fell in love. The smoky flavors, the delightful hint of lemon and the savory tahini all pleased my palate. In that moment, my opinion of eggplant changed completely.
It’s a good thing I changed my mind about eggplant because it’s beautiful, both in looks and how it fits into a healthy diet. Eggplant is a low-calorie food that also happens to be a good source of fiber – a fantastic option for anyone looking for a healthy food that satiates and satisfies.
If you’re new to eggplant, give this recipe for Baba Ghanoush a try. It’s simple to prepare and because the seeds are removed, this recipe’s not as bitter as others. If you don’t care for the smoky flavor, omit the grilling step and simply roast the eggplant for about 5-10 minutes longer. The sesame seeds are a must! They provide the perfect amount of spice and crunch to balance this savory spread.
Food Safety Tip: Preparing to take this dip to a party? It travels well, but be sure to keep cold in a cooler filled with plenty of ice. When you get to the party, ask to keep the dip refrigerated until it’s ready to be served. And remember the two-hour rule. Either return leftovers to the fridge or toss the dip in the trash after it’s been sitting out for more than two hours.
Baba Ghanoush with Cumin and Coriander Spiced Sesame Seeds
- 1 large eggplant
- 1 whole head of garlic, removed of a few papery layers
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- ¼ cup tahini (can use less if desired)
- ¼ teaspoon Kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
- ¼ teaspoon olive oil
- Pinch of ground cumin
- Pinch of ground coriander
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or foil that has been coated with non-stick cooking spray.
- Wash the eggplant and prick it all over with a fork.
- In a grill pan, on the grill or over an open-gas flame, carefully cook the eggplant until it begins to blister and blacken slightly, turning frequently, about 10-12 minutes.
- Place the eggplant on the sheet pan. Next, put the head of garlic on a small piece of foil (enough to cover the whole head) and drizzle with 1 teaspoon of olive oil. Fold the foil over the garlic and place it next to the eggplant on the sheet pan. Move the sheet pan to the oven and cook the eggplant and garlic for 20 minutes. Remove the sheet pan from the oven, but transfer the foil garlic pouch back the oven to cook an additional 10 minutes, or until soft.
- Allow the eggplant to cool slightly, then peel off and discard the skin. Using a spoon (I like to use a grapefruit spoon), remove and discard the seeds. Cut the eggplant into chunks.
- Carefully remove the garlic from the oven and allow to cool before removing 4 of the cloves. Save remaining roasted garlic for another use.
- Place the 4 roasted garlic cloves, tahini, salt and lemon juice in the bowl of a food processor and pulse 3-4 times. Add the chopped eggplant to the processor and pulse to combine. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and process until smooth or until dip reaches desired consistency.
- To make the spiced sesame seeds: Set a small sauté pan over medium heat. Add the 1/4 teaspoon of oil and the sesame seeds, stir and cook 1 minute. Add the cumin and coriander and cook, stirring constantly until fragrant and toasted, about 1 minute.
- Serve Baba Ghanoush topped with spiced, toasted sesame seeds.
Sara Haas, RDN, LDN, is a Chicago-based dietitian and chef. She currently works with Roche Dietitians as well as Centered Chef, is a Food & Nutrition contributing editor, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics spokesperson, and is also the voice of The Eating Right Minute, a public service announcement of the Academy that airs daily on WBBM Newsradio, 780 and 105.9 FM. Find her helpful lifestyle tips on Twitter.