Meatless Friday: Baba Ghanoush – Lebanese Eggplant Appetizer


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Eggplant wasn’t really a friend of mine until recently. We became friends in February 2013 in the Holy Land. I had always found eggplant to be too bitter, and sometimes it stung. So I stayed away from it. But it’s hard to stay away from eggplant in Israel. Eggplant is so plentiful, so abundant. It is also more often called aubergine in the Holy Land, which I think sounds so much better than eggplant.

Copyright 2015 Jeff Young. All rights reserved.

Copyright 2015 Jeff Young. All rights reserved.

What we know as appetizers in the West are part of what’s called a mezze in the Middle East. A mezze consists of lots of small dishes that are shared in common: salads, pickles, grape leaves, pita bread, and several different kinds of dips like hummus. A close cousin to hummus is almost always included in a mezze: Baba Ghanoush.

Baba Ghanoush is an eggplant dip, and the method for making it is very similar to the method of making hummus. As a matter of fact, they both include many of the same ingredients: tahini, lemon, olive oil, and garlic.


When shopping for eggplants, try to pick ones that are symmetrical and are about the same size. That will ensure that the eggplants will cook evenly. You want a firm eggplant, not bruised, with a shiny skin. The older and larger the eggplant, the more likely it is to be bitter. One way to minimize the bitterness is to “sweat” the eggplant after it is roasted. To do so, remove the flesh of the roasted eggplant, discarding the skins, and transfer the flesh to a fine colander or sieve. Allow it to drain for 3 to 5 minutes.


It’s the roasting of the eggplants until their skins begin to char and blister that lends a smokey flavor to Baba Ghanoush. The recipe below details how to roast the eggplants in the oven, but you can also roast them on a grill, if you like.

Baba Ghanoush is popular in the United States, and it is probably one of the most well-recognized Middle Eastern dishes. It’s most often served with warm pita bread, but you can also serve it with slices of cucumber, carrot, or slivers of red, yellow or orange bell peppers.

Baba Ghanoush – Lebanese Eggplant Appetizer


  • 3 medium eggplants
  • ½ cup of tahini
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • ¼ cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1¼ teaspoon of coarse ground kosher salt, or to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon of cayenne, or to taste
  • ½ cup of water
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, as garnish
  • Sumac, as garnish


  1. Roast the eggplants: Preheat the oven to 500. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Rinse eggplants well, then pierce them a few times with a sharp knife or a sharp fork (uniformly over the whole eggplant to prevent bursting), and place on the baking sheet. Roast in the oven, turning every 5 to 7 minutes until the skin blisters and begins to crack. Remove from oven, set aside and allow to cool.
  2. Once cool enough to handle, slice the eggplants in half lengthwise and scoop out the flesh with a spoon, transferring it to a strainer so that the eggplant will release its liquid.
  3. Place the eggplant in a medium to large mixing bowl. Add the tahini, salt, garlic, lemon juice and mix well with a fork, mashing up any larger pieces of eggplant. Slowly add water, as necessary, to achieve desired consistency. Alternatively, the eggplant and other ingredients can be placed in the work bowl of a food processor.
  4. Scoop the mixture into a round serving dish and create a well around the area of the dish. Fill the well with the olive oil, and garnish with fresh parsley and sumac. Serve with warm Arabic bread.


You can find all our Meatless Friday featured recipes here.

cover-around the table with the catholic foodieAROUND THE TABLE WITH THE CATHOLIC FOODIE: MIDDLE EASTERN CUISINE

This recipe for Baba Ghanoush is one of 70+ recipes you will find in my new cookbook, Around the Table with The Catholic Foodie: Middle Eastern Cuisinewhich recently won 3rd place in the Design and Production category of the Catholic Press Awards, with the judges stating the following:

Around the Table with The Catholic Foodie: Middle Eastern Cuisine by Jeff Young. High-impact, color, large type, photographs that are generally appealing and the generous use of white space mark this cookbook which turns out to be much more than a cookbook.”

Copyright 2015 Jeff Young.
Photo copyright 2015 Jeff Young. All rights reserved.


About Author

Jeff Young, perhaps better known as The Catholic Foodie, is an author, blogger, radio host and podcaster. He is the founder and producer of The Catholic Foodie blog and podcast where he provides "Catholic culinary inspiration to help you grow in faith around the table." Jeff hosts a daily live radio show – The Catholic Foodie Show – on, and he co-hosts the Around the Table Food Show on Catholic Community Radio 690AM (New Orleans) and 1380AM (Baton Rouge). Jeff is a monthly contributor to and a contributing author of Word by Word: Slowing Down with the Hail Mary, published by Ave Maria Press. Jeff Young is a proud member of the elite Catholic Speakers Organization, CMG Booking. Jeff has spoken on topics ranging from "growing in faith around the table" to "using social media in the New Evangelization." Jeff's first book, Around the Table with The Catholic Foodie: Middle Eastern Cuisine, published by Liguori Publications is now available. With 78 recipes and stories of faith and family (including his travels to the Holy Land), the book is sure to inspire you to get into the kitchen and to gather your family around the table. The book is available on,, and wherever good Catholic books are sold.

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