Baba Ganoush Vegetable Skillet with Pitta Bread “Fries” and tangy Yogurt-Tahini Sauce turns your favourite Levantine dip into a meal. An actual, bona fide meal. Rejoice!
This recipe is defined by its subtle smokiness. Eggplants get the BBQ or gas stove treatment, turning from fat, firm glossy obsidian fruit to a charred and collapsed heap.
Please trust me. I know it’s a bit of an ugly duckling, prettified with sautéed greens and those crispy bread “fries”. But if you even vaguely tolerate eggplant (aubergine), you will love this. 🙂
I’ve not doubt that if you have ever eaten at a Middle Eastern restaurant you will have been offered – and hopefully chosen – baba ganoush. Or you might have picked it up off the dip shelf at your local grocery store. Most likely it was smooth and silky, enhanced by a slug of extra virgin olive oil – perfect for scooping up with warm pitta bread. Less likely it was a bit chunky, forkable, with tasty morsels of raw garlic and parsley teasing with their intense flavour.
Perhaps you make it yourself, customising it to your taste. Maybe you add complementary cumin or pomegranate molasses, walnuts, or even chopped tomato. But the distinguishing taste of baba ganoush is always of well-fired eggplant.
Baba ganoush has rather indeterminate origins. Like hummus, it is most definitely Levantine, probably Syrian. But an exact where and when is a bit of a mystery. Different spellings and different names pop up all over the eastern Mediterranean. Essentially this glorious dip/salad/side dish, with fire-singed eggplants as its base, is a deeply flavoured but incredibly simple dish.
I adore this dip so much that if I have to choose between baba ganoush and hummus, it’s baba every time.
Are you a baba ganoush lover, too?
Turning baba ganoush into a main meal
What might make this different from every baba ganoush experience you’ve ever had is that this is meant to be a meal. A main course. There’s no need for extra protein – although some smooshed, warmed cannellini beans would be welcome. There is plenty of heft from vegetables, feta cheese, tahini and yogurt to keep you satisfied.
Although this recipe is written for four, to be perfectly honest if you are really hungry I’d just split it with one special, baba-loving mate. Or, hmm, graze on it solo throughout the day…. 😉
Now, let’s go through the basics.
First of all have all of the elements out and ready to use. Chop the garlic, chard and onion; have your tahini, yogurt and lemon ready to use. For the cooking part, I start with the eggplant as it needs time to cool.
For this recipe we are using two big fat eggplants. Before cooking them do remember to prick them in several places to help the steam escape – and prevent explosions. Once suitably pricked lay them on a hot BBQ grill (wood or gas), or – what I do – on the supports of your gas stove turned up high. Either way use tongs to turn them occasionally until they collapse in a juicy heap. This should take around 15 minutes. Make sure they are squidgy from top to bottom. Once they start collapsing it is easier to stick the less cooked areas (usually the bottom as it is fatter) directly over the flame. If you are doing this indoors, flip on your fan extract, or prop open an outside door.
I don’t really recommend you roast the eggplants in the oven as the whole point of this recipe is to infuse them with a bit of smoke. But as I’ve not tried them in the oven, I shouldn’t be too firm with my advice. I’d love to know if you do make this in your oven.
While the eggplants are cooling enough to handle, turn your hand to the other elements that will make this into a filling meal.
Start with the pitta bread fries, which is really just splitting a large wholemeal pitta bread, slicing the butterflied pieces into strips, and tossing them in a bit of good extra virgin olive oil to bake in the oven. I used a piada from a pack by a fab brand, Crosta & Mollica (at Waitrose and most Sainsburys). I prefer these olive oil piadas as they flake up when baked or heated in a skillet.
While the fries are baking chop onion, garlic and zucchini to saute until soft in more oil. If you are okay with multi-tasking mix up the four ingredient tahini-yogurt sauce.
And once the eggplant is cool enough use your hands to peel away the singed skin, revealing pale, smoke-infused flesh. You won’t be able to get every last bit of skin off, but that’s okay. Now you chop the peeled eggplant into small pieces and add to a bowl with olive oil, chopped garlic, parsley and lemon, seasoning with salt to taste. Mix everything really well.
From here it is mainly an assembly job. Top the cooked down vegetables with crumbled aged feta cheese (or vegan equivalent), followed by pomegranate arils (seeds), torn parsley and mint, a pile of pitta fries, and finally drizzle over the tahini-yogurt sauce. You may wish to serve the sauce separately if the dish needs to sit a bit before eating. But all elements can be prepped ahead of time and assembled when you are ready to eat. I tend to do the vegetables, feta and baba ganoush layer and let it sit for about half an hour, allowing the flavours to develop. Then I top with the rest just before we sit down to eat.
Although this is not a vegan recipe it can easily be one with the usual adjustments.
What else can I do with baba ganoush?
If you love baba ganoush as much as we do you will want to make double of it to add to other dishes. Or just to snack on with flatbread or crackers. But why not try one of these ideas?
stuff into a pitta with salad bits and/or falafel,
stir into a tomato sauce to go with pasta, or over a favourite protein and baked,
spoon onto a baked potato,
top a savoury pancake, such as the chickpea flour-based socca/farinata,
have as a perky flavoursome sauce for rice or couscous,
to go with grilled fish or other proteins,
run some through a grain and pulse salad, adding extra herbs too,
plop into little phyllo cups/cases or on crostini as a party appetizer – topping with parsley and perhaps some feta cheese
Fancy more eggplant recipes?
If eggplants are cheap and abundant where you are, why not try a few more Food To Glow eggplant recipes?
Golden Plantain and Summer Vegetable Soft Tacos (above) – eggplant isn’t in the title but they are most definitely in here. And gloriously smoky!
Eggplant Parmesan Tortellini Soup (a FTG easy favourite!)
Korean Vegetable Bulgogi (BIG flavours!)
Eggplant Bacon (!)
and more in my Recipe Index.
Do you love baba ganoush? How do you like to eat it? Are you tempted to make it into a whole meal, complete with extra veggies and some crispy, flaky pitta fries?
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Baba Ganoush Vegetable Skillet with Pitta Fries
Smoky eggplant with sautéed summer vegetables topped with pitta bread fries and a light tahini-yogurt sauce. Easily vegan.
- 2 medium eggplants firm and fresh
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh garlic divided use
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil divided use, plus extra to serve if liked
- 1 small onion peeled and chopped
- 2 medium zucchini quartered and sliced
- 200 g chard washed and chopped
- 4 tbsp chopped parsley divided use
- 1 tbsp chopped mint
- 75 g feta cheese optional
- 1 wholemeal pitta bread split and cut into fries; can use other thin flatbreads
- 1 tbsp sesame seeds lightly toasted
- 3 tbsp pomegranate arils/seeds
- 3 tbsp yogurt not thick/Greek
- 1 tbsp tahini
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tbsp lemon juice leftover from the baba ganoush
- salt and pepper to taste
Flame-roast the eggplants until charred and shrunken - about 10 minutes. Set aside to cool slightly, then peel the skin and finely chop the flesh. Add most of the parsley, a good squoosh of lemon juice and 1 tablespoon of chopped raw garlic. Taste and season with salt if you like. Mix well and set aside.
For the pitta fries, heat the oven to 180C fan/200C/400F. Toss the pitta strips in 2 teaspoons of the olive oil, lay on your baking tray and bake in the oven for 15 minutes - or until crisp. Set aside.
Heat the remaining oil in the skillet and sauté the onion over a low-medium heat for five minutes, then add the remaining garlic and the zucchini. Increase the heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the zucchini is softened - about three minutes. Add the chopped chard. Stir the vegetables and pop on a lid (or use a baking tray to cover) to let the chard cook down and lose some of its moisture - about five minutes. Spoon or drain away excess liquid if you wish. I don't bother.
To "build" the Baba Ganoush Vegetable Skillet, sprinkle on the feta cheese if using, spoon over the eggplant mix (baba ganoush), top with pomegranate arils, pitta fries, mint and extra parsley and the tahini-yogurt sauce if using.
Serve at room temperature or slightly warm. This is a great light main dish. Perhaps serve with extra flatbreads and some hummus. Or have as a big side dish for a larger Middle Eastern or Mediterranean feast.
Stir together all of the ingredients until the tahini loses its thickness, adding salt and pepper if desired. If it seems at all stiff, add more lemon juice or a little warm water and stir gently (if vigorously it may stiffen up even more!). This should be as thick as heavy cream.
To make this recipe suitable for a vegan diet, use vegan soft cheese instead of the feta (or eliminate it altogether) and use non-dairy yogurt for the sauce.
This baba ganoush is very simple and tastes wonderful as is. Some of you may wish to add 2 tablespoons of loose tahini and maybe a little cumin.
Baba ganoush is lovely served with some of its texture intact, as instructed in this recipe. But you may wish to blend it with a hand/immersion blender to give a smooth, silky texture.
This recipe can be made up individually as baba ganoush, the courgette/chard mix, the sauce and the pitta fries, putting them together when required. Let the non-dairy elements come up to room temperature before serving.
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