3/4teaspoonAleppo pepper or red pepper flakes, optional
Extra virgin olive oil
Toasted pine nuts for garnish, optional
First, smoke or grill the eggplant. Turn one gas burner on medium-high. Place the eggplant directly over the flame. Using a pair of tongs, turn the eggplant every 5 minutes or so until it is tender and the skin is charred and crispy on all sides (20 minutes.) The eggplant should deflate and become super tender. supposed to. If you don't have a gas burner you can use a grill. You can also roast the eggplant in the oven (see notes).
Remove the eggplant from the heat and transfer it to a large colander over a bowl. Allow it to sit and drain for a few minutes until fully cooled and all excess water has been drained (it helps if you open the eggplant up a bit and push on it with a knife or a spoon to help it release its juices).
Once the eggplant is cool enough to touch, peel the charred crispy skin off (it should come right off). Discard the skin and the stem (don't worry if a few bits of the skin remain, that is just added flavor).
Transfer the cooked and fully drained eggplant to a bowl. Use a fork to break it down into smaller pieces. Add the tahini paste, garlic, lemon juice, Greek yogurt (if using) salt, pepper, sumac, Aleppo pepper or crushed red pepper flakes. Mix gently with a wooden spoon or a fork until well-combined.
Cover the baba ganoush and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes to an hour.
To serve, transfer the baba ganoush to a rimmed serving dish or a bowl. Top with a good drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and toasted pine nuts, if you like. Serve with pita wedges or pita chips and veggies of your choice!
To roast the eggplant in the oven instead: heat the oven to 425 degrees F. Trim the eggplant and cut them in half, then salt it and allow it to "sweat out" excess water for about 30 minutes or so. Wipe it off, and arrange the eggplant on a lightly-oiled baking sheet, flesh side down. Roast for about 40 minutes or until very tender and cooked through. Allow the eggplant time to cool a bit, then using a spoon, scoop up the flesh and place it in a bowl. Follow the recipe from step #4.
For best texture, mix the eggplant as directed using a wooden spoon or a fork rather than a food processor. This dip is meant to be creamy but on the rustic side with some texture.
Store leftovers in a tightly-closed container in the fridge for up to 4 days.