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smoky pan-grilled baba ghanoush dip

by Jackie Newgent  |  January 22, 2015  |  4 Comments

smoky pan-grilled baba ghanoush dip

I love good chips and French onion dip at a party. Perhaps too much! But rather than develop a new sour creamy-style dip, I opted for inspiration from my Lebanese roots (thanks to my mom!). The result is an updated classic baba ghanoush. When aiming for healthfulness, I figure you simply can’t go wrong by making a dip full of vegetable goodness!

Another twist was tossed into my recipe development mix. For this month’s “Recipe ReDux” challenge, the goal was to focus on the trend of smoking … the culinary kind of smoking, of course. So I pan-grilled eggplant while keeping it covered with a lid to trap in all of the delicious smokiness. Then I added an extra kick of smoked delight, “heat” and earthiness by way of smoked paprika, harissa, and cumin, respectively. If you can’t find harissa, no worries; simply use your favorite hot sauce.

To serve, rather than going with greasy chips, you’ll dunk yet more vegetables, like fresh red bell pepper strips or cherry tomatoes, into this veggie-based dip. You can pair it with fresh whole grain pita wedges. Or try it with crunchy pita, quinoa, or lentil chips. Think of it as Middle Eastern-inspired chips and dip. Be sure to include it as part of your regular ­party recipe rotation!

Calories saved: 30

Why it’s better for you? Vegetables. And more vegetables!

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smoky pan-grilled baba ghanoush dip

  • Yield: 8 servings 1x


  • 1 (1 1/4-pound) eggplant, cut crosswise into 10 to 12 rounds
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • Juice of 1 small lemon (2 tablespoons) + optional lemon zest for garnish
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon harissa or a few drops hot pepper sauce
  • 1/8 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley


  1. Brush the eggplant rounds with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. In batches, place eggplant rounds into the grill pan, cover with a lid or heavy-duty aluminum foil, and grill until well charred and fully cooked through, about 7 minutes per side.
  2. In a food processor, add the eggplant, tahini, lemon juice, garlic, salt, harissa, smoked paprika, cumin, and remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Pulse several times until combined, but not pureed.
  3. Transfer to a serving bowl, sprinkle with the parsley and, if using, lemon zest, and serve.


Per serving (1/4 cup): 90 calories, 7g total fat, 1g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 150mg sodium, 6g total carbohydrate, 2g dietary fiber, 2g sugars, 1g protein


  • Serving Size: 1/4 cup


The “Before” Version

Inspired by french onion dip

Per serving (1/4 cup): 120 calories, 10g total fat, 5g saturated fat, 0mg trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 340mg sodium, 4g total carbohydrates, 0g dietary fiber, 4g sugars, 1g protein


Tasteover Tips

  • When making a recipe healthier, it’s okay to think outside of the box and be inspired simply by the type of recipe rather than the specific ingredients in the original version of it
  • Pump up flavors and fragrance of healthful recipes by using a combination of a few, not just one, techniques or ingredients, like smoked paprika for smokiness, harissa for “heat” and cumin or earthiness.
  • Consider using vegetables as the starring ingredient of a recipe “tasteover”–and prepare the vegetables in a manner that enhances their flavor, such as grilling or smoking … or both!


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  1. Baba ghanoush is one of my favorite dips of all time! I would always buy some at the farmers market and I couldn’t wait to get more. Your recipe looks delicious – can’t wait to try!

    1. I’m with you on it being one of my favorite dips, Alanna! Can’t wait for you to try the recipe, too. 🙂