By mid-summer, I’m looking for ways to use up all the summer squash that is inevitably overgrowing in my garden. Making a baba ganoush-like dip with zucchini is my favorite way to use up this versatile vegetable.
Like eggplant, the traditional baba ganoush base, zucchini will easily blend up into a creamy dip. Unlike eggplant, it makes for a lighter, airier and softer textured baba ganoush.
Whether you’re using eggplant or zucchini, the vegetables benefit from being blackened. You can achieve a smoky char by broiling the zucchini in the oven, or for an even deeper flavor, throw it onto the grill. The skin will get black and papery as it roasts.
Once cooled, the inside of the zucchini is easy to scoop out. I don’t worry too much about getting every inch of skin off the zucchini; a few flecks of char add to the smokiness I want from any good baba ganoush.
Once the zucchini is cooked, you blend it with tahini, garlic, salt, lemon juice and a little olive oil. This is your standard Middle Eastern dip with all the familiar ingredients. I’ve included a recipe below, but baba ganoush is all about personal preferences. Taste and modify the dip to your own liking. Especially with zucchini’s lightness, I do suggest being generous with good quality tahini, which will add necessary richness, creaminess and a slightly nutty flavor.
The zucchini’s neutral taste lends itself to ample doctoring. I often add chopped parsley to this baba ganoush. I’ll also top it with smoked paprika, za’atar, olive oil or all three.
The best part is that baba ganoush always tastes better the longer it sits. I love to make it a day ahead of serving, although it rarely lasts long after that.
2 pounds (3 large) zucchini
1/3 cup tahini
2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, grated or minced very fine
1 to 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1-1/2 tsp. kosher salt, or to taste
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
Smoked paprika, for garnish (optional)
Parsley, for garnish (optional)
1. Set the oven to broil. Place the zucchini on a baking sheet and line with foil if desired. Poke a few holes into each zucchini with a fork.
2. Broil the zucchini until blackened and soft on one side, about 10 minutes. Flip over the zucchini and blacken on the opposite side for another 10-15 minutes. Zucchini should feel soft when pierced with a knife or fork.
3. Allow the zucchini to cool, then remove the blackened peel. Place the cooked and peeled zucchini into a colander and allow it to drain for 15 minutes.
4. In a food processor or blender, add the drained zucchini. (You can also do this by hand by mashing the zucchini with a fork for a chunkier texture.) Add the tahini, olive oil and grated/minced garlic. Pulse until mostly smooth. Blend less if you prefer it chunky and more if you prefer it very smooth. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and mix in the lemon juice, salt and pepper. Taste and adjust the seasonings according to your liking.
5. Serve topped with more olive oil, spice or fresh herbs.
6. Keeps well in the fridge for 3 to 4 days.