During one of our winery tours in Mendoza, we stopped at one of my must-sees, Bodega La Azul. I loved the bohemian look to the winery, its boutique size and the rave food reviews. The five course wine pairing meal here is to-die-for. The ingredients are simple, but they highlight the important parts of each course perfectly. The first thing that hit our table was bread and this amazing smokey, creamy dip. The flavor was out-of-this-world and everyone at the table fell in love. I had to ask how it was made, and the answer was simple: garlic, eggplant and a few other spices.
Because I loved these flavors so much, I knew I wanted to make it at home. I adapted this recipe from the blog Yummy Beet. I knew this was going to be a bit different than La Azul’s recipe, but not knowing anything about making baba ganoush I thought I would start here. The owner of La Azul explained that they steam the eggplant and peel the skins before making the baba ganoush. This recipe oven roasts or grills the vegetable with the skins left on.
I made this for a get-t0gether and decided to grill the eggplant over our coals for added smokiness. We also took a cooking class in Mendoza and the chef taught us to first char the vegetables with nothing on them. Then add oil and very coarse salt. Adding coarse salt is also a trick I picked up on this trip and I have been using it ever since. It works really well on grilled foods – something the Argentinian’s are known for. I doubled this recipe and my only advice: if you do this, lighten up on the lemon. Do not double the dose here. I found it to be too acidic, but the flavor was still really good.
Overall, if you are looking for something simple for entertaining this summer, this is a perfect addition. The flavor is amazing, goes really well with wine and it can be made ahead and left our at room temperature. The other great part? For a dip, its completely healthy. The eggplant is the only thing that makes the baba ganoush creamy. It is completely dairy free. Because I dig these flavors so much, I am going to continue my quest to reproduce the baba ganoush served at La Azul. Many different attempts may be made this summer…
Baba Ganoush (Eggplant Dip)
- 1 large eggplant, tops removed and halved lengthwise
- 1 clove of garlic
- ⅓ cup tahini (sesame seed paste)
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- Course sea salt
- Extra-virgin olive oil, to garnish
- Sesame seeds, to garnish
- Heat coals to 400ºF. On a grill pan, place the halved eggplant face down. Prick eggplant skin several times with a fork or knife. Grill until charred, about 15-20 minutes. Add olive oil and course salt. Return to the grill and continue to cook for 20 to 30 minutes, until the meat of the eggplant is tender and collapsing. Note: this is very important! Medium cooked egg plant will not make a good baba ganoush so make sure that the meat of the vegetable is well done. Cool to room temperature.
- In a food processor, pulse garlic until minced. Add grilled eggplant with the skin and blend until smooth. Add tahini, lemon juice, cumin, and smoked paprika. Blend again until smooth and creamy. Transfer to serving bowl.
- Garnish with olive oil and sesame seeds. Serve at room temperature. Refrigerate leftovers for 5 days or so.