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Whip up a quick and healthy snack or appetizer with this Instant Pot Baba Ganoush recipe! Similar to hummus in flavour but not in FODMAPs, baba ganoush (also sometimes written as baba ghanouj or baba ghanoush) is a Lebanese roasted eggplant dip typically served as an appetizer. Traditionally made by roasting the eggplant on a grill or in the oven, making this baba ganoush in the Instant Pot saves gobs of time and effort. It’s also Paleo, Whole30 and low FODMAP.
This Instant Pot Baba Ganoush recipe is dedicated to my dear friend, Carrie, whose amazing friendship story I will share in this post.
What is Baba Ganoush?
As mentioned above, baba ganoush is a Lebanese dip traditionally made by roasting an eggplant on the grill or in the oven. This is to give the dip a smoky flavour. The eggplant is typically roasted in its skin until well charred, taking about 40 minutes in the oven. Then, you scrape off the skin and mash the eggplant together with tahini, lemon juice, and other spices.
When I first started researching how to make this dip, roasting it in the oven for 40 minutes seemed like a long time to wait, especially for an appetizer. Plus, scraping the skin off the eggplant sounded a bit messy.
While I haven’t actually tried making it using more traditional methods, I wondered if it could be more easily and quickly made by using the Instant Pot.
Instant Pot Baba Ganoush
In fact, it can, but there are some also some disadvantages to making it in the Instant Pot. I don’t believe I achieved the same level of smokiness as I would cooking the eggplant on the grill or in the oven. This could be helped by adding liquid smoke, but I didn’t do this as I was satisfied with the way it tasted as is, which is incredibly yummy. I add a smidge of smoked paprika, and this gives my Instant Pot version a bit of a smokiness boost.
If you are wanting more smoky flavour for your baba ganoush, I recommend either adding some liquid smoke or making it using traditional methods. My Instant Pot method is considerably faster than traditional methods and most likely a lot less work.
What does baba ganoush have to do with my friend, Carrie?
As you may have read in my previous blog, Instagram or Facebook posts, my dad passed away over the summer. This was difficult for me on many levels, but one factor that made things super complicated was living 2,500 miles away from my family in Michigan, including my dad. Generally speaking, going to Michigan to visit family is quite the journey, and much more so during the pandemic when there are higher restrictions and fewer flight options.
I have friends and family who stepped up for me in a very real way when my dad passed away. They went above and beyond in helping me face some of my life’s biggest challenges.
Although I’ve thanked them profusely from the bottom of my heart and have given them gifts and thank you notes, I feel as though these things do not even begin to pay them back for their help.
Other than being there for them in a similar way if they need me in the future, the biggest thing I feel I can personally do in the meantime, the biggest expression of thanks I can personally give, is to create art in their name.
While my artistic talents fail me when painting, sculpting, or songwriting, creating recipes and cooking food with love is my art. Therefore, I will be writing and dedicating recipes to the friends and family members who helped me when I needed it most.
Carrie’s Friendship Story
In brief, Carrie and I met in 2004 when we were both teaching English in Austria on a Fulbright. Since then, even though we have lived many miles and even oceans apart at times, we have stayed in touch over the years, and she has remained one of my closest friends. We often go several years without seeing each other, but when we finally do, it’s like we never were apart.
When my dad passed away, I needed to go to Michigan. My husband, Jeff, couldn’t go due to work obligations. Upon hearing this, Carrie offered to drive 8 hours one way, during a pandemic, to be with me in Michigan for a week while I tried to settle his affairs and make sense of the situation.
From driving me everywhere I needed to go to cleaning out my dad’s refrigerator to attending meetings with attorneys and making phone calls, Carrie did anything and everything she could to help me during one of my life’s scariest nightmares. My dad’s death was a lot for me to process, and she listened. She was there for every tear, every obstacle, every heartbreaking, scary moment. It wasn’t a fun week for either of us, but her presence meant EVERYTHING to me.
Carrie also brought a car full of snacks. One of these snacks was store-bought baba ganoush. She offered me some, and it looked really good, but as I didn’t want to take the time to analyze the label and determine whether my stomach could tolerate it, I graciously declined.
Although it fulfills my own unique dietary needs, I created and now dedicate this baba ganoush recipe to Carrie. Hopefully we can eat it together someday without either one of us having to worry about whether our stomach can tolerate it.
Eggplant, Where have you been all my life?
Although I’ve had eggplant in the past and have cooked it a few times, until making this recipe, I never realized how tasty it can be. In the first part of my recipe, I sear the eggplant in garlic-infused olive oil using the Instant Pot’s sauté function, and it makes the whole house smell AMAZING. It made me wonder how I’ve been living my life up until now without eating much eggplant. And, most importantly (not really): it’s purple, which is my favourite colour.
Fun fact: although eggplant is commonly cooked and thought of as a vegetable, did you know that it’s actually a fruit?!?! Botanically, apparently it is actually considered a berry.
Due to its nutrient content, eating eggplant can also lead to a variety of health benefits. These benefits range from improving memory to reducing osteopetrosis, and much more.
Needless to say, prepare to see more eggplant recipes on the blog, because I’m in love with this thing. Subscribe to receive notifications of new recipes as they hit the blog!
The equipment I use to make this Instant Pot Baba Ganoush includes:
Trivet that comes with the Instant Pot or a vegetable steamer basket (I use one like this)
Instant Pot Baba Ganoush: Ingredients & Tips for Success
This Instant Pot Baba Ganoush only has 5 main ingredients plus seasonings and optional garnish. The instructions in the recipe card may look long, but the process is way easier than it appears.
The star of the show is a large eggplant that weighs about 1 lb (16 ounces) before it’s peeled and the bottom and top chopped off. Once it’s peeled, etc., it will weigh about 12 ounces.
To start, I peel the eggplant using a vegetable peeler and then chop the bottom and top off with a chopping knife. Then, I chop the eggplant lengthwise into 1″ x 1/2″ strips (more or less, it doesn’t have to be perfect) and then chop those strips in half horizontally. I wish I would have taken some process shots of this and may in the future, but if you need additional clarification, feel free to contact me.
Garlic-Infused Olive Oil & Salt
Once done chopping, hit the “Saute” button on the Instant Pot and add 2 tbsp of the garlic-infused olive oil. While the Instant Pot is heating up, sprinkle the two largest sides of eggplant with sea salt. These are the sides you will sear in the Instant Pot.
Eggplant absorbs oil like crazy, so the salt should slow down this absorption a bit. This cuts down on the amount of oil needed and also helps to season the overall dish.
Once the Instant Pot display reads “Hot,” ensure the oil is evenly coating the bottom of the inner pot (and if not, swirl the oil to coat). Add half of the eggplant strips and sear on one side for 3 minutes without disturbing. Remove strips to a plate for a second, add 1 more tbsp of oil and swirl the pot to coat. Add the strips back to the pot and sear the opposite side for 3 minutes. Remove to a plate. Repeat these same steps for the second half of the eggplant strips, adding 1 tbsp of oil between batches and flips. Once you’re done searing, you should have 1/2 tbsp of oil remaining. Set that aside for later.
If your eggplant is sticking to the point of ripping apart, add more oil to the pot. Some minor sticking will occur, and that’s okay.
Once all of the eggplant strips have been seared, hit “Cancel” on the Instant Pot. Add 1 cup of cold water, wait about 15 seconds, and scrape the bottom of the pot clean with a plastic spoon.
Then, add the trivet or vegetable steamer to the inner pot to rest in the water. If you have one, a vegetable steamer is ideal as it ensures the eggplant doesn’t fall into the water.
Place the eggplant on the trivet or steamer, close the lid, set the pressure release valve to “Sealing,” press the “Manual” or “Pressure Cook” button, and set the timer for 2 minutes.
Once the cooking cycle has completed, quick release the pressure. Remove the eggplant to a colander and set in the sink for a few minutes to drain and cool.
Tahini, Lemon Juice & Seasonings
Add the eggplant to a large mixing bowl and mash with a potato masher until smooth. Add tahini, lemon juice, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp smoked paprika to the bowl and mix until well combined. Transfer to a serving bowl using a spatula and serve.
Baba ganoush is typically served with toasted pita bread or pita chips, which aren’t Paleo, Whole30 or low FODMAP. Some Paleo/Whole30 and low FODMAP options you can eat with your baba ganoush include:
Chopped raw veggies, such as carrots, red bell pepper or cucumbers.
Some low FODMAP but not Paleo/Whole30 options include:
2 tbsptahini (which I buy cheaper at my local grocery store)
1 tbsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed
½ tsp sea salt, plus more for sprinkling
1/8 tsp smoked paprika, plus more for garnish (optional)
Freshly chopped parsley, for garnish (optional)
Peel the skin off the eggplant using a vegetable peeler. Chop the top and bottom of the eggplant off. Once peeled with bottom and top removed, the eggplant should weigh about 12 oz. Then, chop the eggplant lengthwise into 1” x ½” strips (more or less). Chop the strips in half once horizontally.
Hit the “Sauté” button on the Instant Pot Pressure Cooker and add 2 tbsp of the garlic-infused olive oil. While the pot is heating up, sprinkle the eggplant strips on their two largest sides with salt. Once the display on the Instant Pot reads “Hot,” ensure the oil is evenly covering the bottom of the pot. Using tongs, add half of the eggplant strips, and sear on a single side for 3 minutes without disturbing. Gently remove strips with tongs to a plate, add 1 tbsp of oil to the pot, and add strips back to the pot to sear on the other side for 3 minutes. Remove seared strips to a plate. Repeat these steps for the other half of the eggplant strips, adding 1 tbsp of oil between batches and flips (you should have ½ tbsp of oil remaining once you’re done searing). If the eggplant is sticking greatly to the point of ripping apart, add a bit more oil (minor sticking will occur, which is okay).
Once all the eggplant strips have been seared, hit “Cancel” on the Instant Pot and pour in cold water. Wait about 15 seconds, then scrape the bottom of the pot clean with a plastic spoon. Add the trivet or a vegetable steamer basket (I use one like this) to the inner pot and place all the strips on the trivet or in the steamer.
Close the lid, set the pressure release valve to “Sealing,” hit the “Manual” or “Pressure Cook” button, and set the timer for 2 minutes.
Once the cooking cycle has completed, quick release the pressure. Open the lid, and using tongs, remove eggplant strips to a colander and place in the sink to cool and drain for a few minutes.
Add the eggplant to a large mixing bowl. Mash with a potato masher until your desired chunkiness.* Add tahini, lemon juice, ½ tsp sea salt, 1/8 tsp smoked paprika, and the remaining ½ tbsp of garlic infused olive oil to the bowl and stir until well mixed. Taste the baba ganoush and adjust seasonings, tahini, lemon juice, and garlic-infused olive oil as desired.
Using a spatula, scrape into a serving bowl. Eat using your favourite dipping foods. Paleo / Whole30 / Low FODMAP options: raw vegetables such as sliced carrots, cucumbers and red bell peppers. Low FODMAP options (but not Paleo/Whole30): gluten-free, low FODMAP crackers (I like Good Thins Simply Salt Rice Crackers), gluten-free, low FODMAP pita (if you can find it – I have yet to locate it) or pita chips.