Whether you know it as eggplant or aubergine, these purple beauties are one of the most versatile and picnic-friendly vegetables. This delicious baba ganoush recipe is one of our favourite eggplant dishes, especially for a picnic.
Aubergines keep well in the fridge, so you can always have one on hand. Eggplant also beefs up so many dishes and salads beautifully without overwhelming them. They are also a fabulous addition to make ahead salads as they don’t go soggy or lacklustre in a pre-prepared salad.
But where the magic happens with eggplant is Baba Ganoush. The deliciously smoky Middle Eastern eggplant dip, which, along with its legumey cousin hummus, and any dips containing beetroot, are in the upper echelon of picnic and vegan-friendly dips.
What do you Serve Eggplant Dip With? Baba Ganoush Picnic Ideas
Easy to make, the smoky eggplant dip is an excellent addition to any picnic backpack or basket.
- Make it the centrepiece of a crudités vegetable platter, or serve it mezze or antipasto style with fresh bread, focaccia wedges or dipping pitas.
- Serve it with bread as a side to a main dish salad such as our quinoa beet salad with dill and mustard seed.
- It also makes a great sandwich spread – think roast Mediterranean vegetables such as roasted peppers, balsamic roasted beets, robust greens and baba ganoush on a crusty baguette.
- We also love it as a BBQ accompaniment. Serve it as a side dish to seasoned BBQ lamb or chicken kebabs or some quality handmade sausages.
Packing hearty and robust dips such as baba ganoush is one of the best picnic menu tips for a simple yet delicious picnic.
You Might Also Like: We’ve got loads more delicious picnic dip recipes here, including both hot & cold dips for every season.
Tips for Making Baba Ganoush
How to Cook the Eggplant
Traditionally aubergines were roasted over coals or open flame to blacken the skin, slowly softening the centre until the aubergine collapses.
My preferred method is slow-cooked over coals to achieve maximum smokiness but I know this is not always possible. An outdoor gas grill or even gas stovetop is another easy way to blacken and soften the eggplant.
If using coals, wait until the coals are hot and smoky and most of the flame has died down (you want to blacken not burn). If using gas, have the burner on high,
Turn the whole aubergine over the flame or coals with tongs until the skin is charred and flaky and the centre soft. The eggplant will look like it has deflated when it is ready.
Another way is to roast in the oven. Preheat the oven to 425 ℉ | 220℃.
Poke the aubergine with a fork several times. If the aubergine is especially big – you might want to cut it in half longways. I don’t bother removing the stalk as it will be removed with skin later.
Bake them for 40-50 minutes until the skin is wrinkled and the inside is tender.
Let the eggplant cool to room temperature ~ 20 minutes, then cut lengthwise and scoop the flesh out with a spoon or a knife.
Allow the flesh to sit in a sieve or colander for a little to drain any excess moisture off – Aubergines hold a lot of moisture, and you don’t want a runny baba ganoush. Keep the liquid in case you wish to adjust consistency later.
If stored in an airtight container, baba ganoush will last around 3-4 days in the fridge.
Yes, you can freeze baba ganoush. It will keep well in the freezer for up to 3 months.
For the best consistency after freezing, thaw for around 15 minutes or until you can break it apart by hand.
Place the chunks on a fine sieve over a bowl to finish thawing. Some people like to use a strainer lined with cheesecloth or muslin. This will allow any water from ice crystals to drain away leaving you with the best consistency and flavours.
Tip:– As every eggplant will be a different size, add ingredients incrementally to taste and to achieve the desired consistency.
I find the tahini, garlic, and lemon can overwhelm the smoky aubergine flavours very quickly. Also, too much liquid such as olive oil and lemon juice can make your baba ganoush too runny.
You can always add more seasoning; you can’t take it away.
Suggested Garnishes for Eggplant Dip
Serve baba ganoush with any of the following garnishes:
- A sprinkle of sweet or smoked paprika or cayenne pepper if you like a little heat.
- Sesame seeds, crushed pistachio nuts or toasted pine nuts.
- Whole olives and fresh herbs.
- Chopped cilantro or parsley
- Pomegranate seeds make a lovely colour splash and add a touch of tart sweetness.
- Whichever you choose, finish with a drizzle of olive oil.