We have had a band from Argentina staying with us while they tour in Costa Rica and they reminded me of this amazing dish called baba ghanoush that they like to eat back home. Baba Ghanoush is a dish made from roasted eggplant that is popular throughout the Levant, which includes Israel, Egypt, Lebanon, and Turkey. It is usually served as a smooth puree with pita bread to dip as an appetizer. Think hummus but with eggplant instead of garbanzo beans. It’s a healthy and delicious dip or a great spread for sandwiches or wraps and it’s vegan and gluten-free!
This stuff puts most other dips to shame with its nutritional content, flavor, and broad appeal. It’s a perfect choice for parties or potlucks. Your vegan friends will certainly appreciate a break from the standard sour cream and mayo based fare. Serve it with vegetables like carrots, broccoli, cucumber, and bell pepper to dip instead of pita and even the gluten-free crowd will be included.
It’s almost entirely made of eggplant and tahini, which is just toasted ground sesame seeds. The addition of lemon juice adds a bright acid note and really enhances the whole dish. I highly recommend using fresh squeezed lemon juice. We actually used some of our local limon mandarino variety that grow in our yard. They have a really amazing and unique flavor. We also used local organic cumin seeds which we toasted and ground ourselves. You can even make your own tahini. But you really don’t have to go all out to make delicious baba ghanoush. Regular lemons, ground cumin, and pre-made tahini will still be really delicious.
Tahini is a major component of Middle-Eastern and Mediterranean cooking. It has a flavor and texture similar to nut butters and is loaded with nutrients. It’s packed with good fats, dietary fiber, protein, and minerals like phosphorus, iron, and calcium. Eating sesame seeds in the form of tahini is even better than eating them whole because the nutrients are more available for digestion. Tahini has been shown to improve heart health by lowering cholesterol and decreasing blood pressure. It improves bone health and can even help prevent hormone-related cancers. Just two tablespoons per day is enough to help with a number of ailments, such as osteoarthritis and osteoporosis.
The main ingredient in baba ghanoush, eggplant, is also very nutritious. The bulbous, dark purple vegetable is a great source of dietary fiber, copper, vitamins B1, B3, and B6, and manganese. Eggplant is also high in antioxidants and can also help lower cholesterol. Combined with the other health benefits of garlic, lemon and tahini it makes one of the healthiest snacks around. And most delicious!
It has really been a pleasure hosting Binghiman and the Natives while they play here. Our friend Aisha from Punto Focal photography, who is traveling with them, even made some whole wheat bread sticks to dip in our baba ghanoush and some homemade hummus I whipped up. Yum! I hope you all enjoy it as much as we did!