Thursday, April 17, 2008

Recipes from BigJeff: Health(ier) Babaganouj

Another recipe from BigJeff! (For an intro, check out his first post.) Using tofu as a substitute in recipes is a trick I've seen my brother pull off in several different dishes, including mac 'n' cheese, cauliflower gratin, and lasagna. As tofu takes on the flavors of whatever it is prepared with, it's particularly ideal when you want lighten things up, add body, and keep the creaminess of a dish without introducing another flavor.

The basic change in this babaganouj recipe is swapping out the traditional tahini for blended firm tofu, a touch of smoked paprika, and just a teaspoon of dark, roasted sesame oil. It remains rich-tasting and has the smokiness and flavor of eggplant, as well as a beautiful texture. The tofu also adds a lean protein boost.
Health(ier) Babaganouj
by BigJeff

3 large eggplants
3 squares medium or firm tofu
2-3 scallions, roughly chopped
1 head garlic + 3 cloves
juice of 1 large lemon
1 tsp roasted sesame oil
1 tbsp smoked paprika
salt and pepper to taste
fresh herbs of your choice (dill, cilantro, etc.) to garnish

Wash (but don't peel or trim) the eggplants, pierce them all over with a fork, and roast in the oven whole for 45 minutes at 350 degrees or until they become totally mushy and soft but still retain their shape. If you want, you can finish these eggplants on the grill for some real char flavor, but it's not necessary.

Roast the garlic at the same time as the eggplant: cut the top off the whole head of garlic (retain the other three cloves for later), salt a bit, top with a bit of olive oil, and roast alongside the eggplant. The garlic should soften considerably and almost rise out of its skins when it's done. Set aside to cool.

In a food processor, blend the tofu, scallions, roast garlic, remaining raw garlic cloves, lemon juice, smoked paprika, and sesame oil. Halve the eggplants and scrape out the insides with a spoon or round spatula, being careful not to get any of the skin mixed in (it's delicious and blackened and smoky, but ultimately unhealthy), and mix into the blended tofu by hand. Add salt and pepper to taste. For a smoother babaganouj, you can use the food processor to blend the eggplant into the tofu, but I like to keep it chunky.

Top with freshly chopped herbs of your choice and a dusting of smoked paprika, and if you'd like, some fine olive oil. Serve with pita bread, crackers, cucumber and/or tomato slices, or as a side dish to grilled meats.


  1. hey marc, the smaller ones are black pepper but the seed-like things are from the eggplant itself. cumin would be very nice though, and would go well w/ the smoked paprika, although it does have a tendency to overpower a dish.