Cook | On Fathers Day, honor dada with side of baba

With Father’s Day this Sunday, June 21, I thought I would feature baba ghan­oush, an eggplant dish popular throughout Israel, the Middle and Near East and North Africa. The recipe’s name is perfect for the day since it translates to pampered or special father.

Baba ghanoush usually is served as an appetizer over lettuce, or as a dip with pita bread wedges or sturdy vegetables. There are many variations. I bake the eggplant until it is very soft and browned, but others prefer to grill or cook it the vegetable over an open flame.

The second recipe turns the baba ghanoush into a casserole with ground turkey. It’s a dish fit for a dad or anyone else special in your life.


California Baba Ghanoush

Serves 6-8 (appetizer or dip)

2 Tbs. olive oil, plus extra for greasing

2 lbs. eggplant (see note below)

1⁄4 cup chopped tomato (cut in 1⁄8-inch pieces)

1⁄2 tsp. minced fresh green hot chili (seeded if desired to reduce heat)

2 tsp. lemon juice

2 Tbs. tahini (sesame seed) paste

1⁄4 tsp. cumin

1⁄4 tsp. paprika

1⁄4 tsp. salt or as needed

1⁄8 tsp. sugar, optional

1 Tbs. finely chopped fresh cilantro

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease rimmed baking tray. Prick eggplant all over with fork. Place on tray. Bake, turning occasionally, until very soft, flattened and browned all over. Timing will vary depending on size. (One 2 lb. eggplant took 2 hours; six small eggplants took 50 minutes.) Discard any liquid.

Let cool. Cooled eggplants can be wrapped and stored in the refrigerator for 2 days. Return to room temperature.

Cut eggplant into two long halves. Use a fork to shred and scoop out flesh from skin. Use the side of the fork to scrape flesh from skin. Discard skin. There should be about 2 packed cups of pulp.

Chop pulp into 1⁄8-inch pieces. Mix with tomatoes and chili. Combine lemon juice, 2 Tbs. olive oil, tahini paste, cumin and paprika. Whisk until smooth. Stir into vegetables. Taste. Add salt. If bitter, add sugar. Sprinkle with cilantro before serving.

Note: The recipe can be made with large globe eggplants or smaller, thinner Italian-style eggplants. If using smaller eggplants, buy a bit more than 2 lbs. in order to get enough cooked pulp.


Baked Baba Ghanoush Casserole

Serves 4

2 Tbs. olive oil plus extra for greasing

1⁄4 cup finely chopped onion

1 Tbs. finely chopped garlic

1⁄4 cup chopped red bell pepper (cut into 1⁄4-inch pieces)

1⁄2 tsp. minced fresh green hot chili (seeded if desired to reduce heat)

1⁄2 tsp. paprika, divided

1⁄4 tsp. cumin

1 lb. ground turkey

1⁄4 tsp. salt, or as needed.

1 recipe California Baba Ghanoush (without cilantro garnish)

2 Tbs. minced cilantro, divided

4 eggs, beaten

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 8-inch-square baking pan. Heat 2 Tbs. oil in large fry or sauté pan. Add onion. Sauté until soft. Add garlic. Sauté until golden. Add pepper and chili. Sauté until beginning to soften. Add 1⁄4 tsp. paprika and the cumin. Add turkey and sauté until browned, breaking up clumps. Taste. Add salt. Place on bottom of prepared pan.

Thoroughly mix baba ghanoush, 1 Tbs. cilantro and eggs. Spread over top of turkey. Sprinkle on remaining paprika. Bake until browned and topping is firm, about 30 minutes. Serve garnished with remaining cilantro.

Faith Kramer is a Bay Area food writer. Her columns alternate with those of Josie A.G. Shapiro. She blogs at Contact her at [email protected]

Faith Kramer
Faith Kramer

Faith Kramer is a Bay Area food writer and the author of “52 Shabbats: Friday Night Dinners Inspired by a Global Jewish Kitchen.” Her website is Contact her at [email protected].