In Israel, there's a baba ghanouj (sometimes called baba ganoush) recipe for every taste. Even the smallest markets carry several versions of chatzilim (eggplant). Home cooks and restaurants alike relish the opportunity to tweak this classic, resulting in a multitude of interpretations for this Middle Eastern staple.
General Directions for Eggplant
Line stovetop with aluminum foil or burner covers. Turn a burner to high heat and place eggplant directly over burner grate, turning occasionally with tongs until all sides are charred and eggplant is soft, about 5 minutes per side or 15-20 minutes total. Remove to a baking sheet and let cool completely. Drain juices, remove skin and place eggplant pulp in the bowl of a food processor.
(I like my eggplant campfire-smoky–known as al ha'esh, or “on the fire” in Israel–but if the flavor is too strong, you can bake the eggplant on a baking sheet in a 400F oven for about an hour, then cool and skin the eggplant according to the directions below.)
This simple recipe is inspired by one I tasted at the Mahaneh Yehuda, Jerusalem's famous market (also known as the shuk). For this version, I would opt for the baked, not smoked, eggplant preparation.
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 scallion green included, thinly sliced, plus more for garnish
1/4 cup lemon juice, plus more for garnish
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1/4 cup diced red bell pepper, plus more for garnish
2 medium eggplants (about 1 to 1 1⁄4 lbs each)
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more for garnish
Prepare baked eggplant according to directions above and transfer to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse 10-15 times until eggplant flesh is chopped, but some chunks remain. Remove to a bowl and add red pepper, garlic, scallion, olive oil, lemon juice, and salt, stirring to incorporate all ingredients. Transfer to a bowl and garnish with additional red pepper and scallion. Serve with wedges of pita bread.