Smoky Eggplant Dip

Do you have a garden and are you growing eggplants and are they multiplying by leaps and bounds? If so, make this seductively delicious Smoky Eggplant Dip. Or if, like me, you do not have a garden, the nice thing about eggplant is that it’s always available at the store, so you can have this dip anytime you want it – it’s perfect for cocktail hour, or a mid-afternoon snack, or even a breakfast spread.

I like to serve my Smoky Eggplant Dip with an array of raw veg (red peppers, cucumber slices, cherry tomatoes, celery) and also some freshly baked pita chips. It’s easy breezy to make chips: just buy whole pita, cut it in wedge shapes (stack a few and cut once across, then again and again, like cutting a pizza)… brush the wedges liberally with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and arrange in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Bake for about 20 minutes at 325. So much better than pre-packaged. Worth it.

Serving:

4 – 6

Total time:

1.5 hours including roasting

Ingredients

  • 2 medium (or 3 small) Italian eggplants (not the thin Japanese variety)   
  • 2 medium cloves garlic
  • 4 Tablespoons lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 2 Tablespoons tahini
  • 2 Tablespoons of chopped fresh flat leaf parsley (reserve a bit for garnish)
  • ½  teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½  teaspoon smoked paprika (must use “smoked” – it’s a fab spice, go buy it)
  • 1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil (plus a bit more for rubbing on eggplant)
  • 1 teaspoon Diamond brand kosher salt, maybe a pinch more to taste

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 425.
  • Rinse eggplant and remove any pesky stickers.
  • Cut off both ends and slice eggplant in half, lengthwise.
  •  Rub the whole thing with olive oil and lightly salt the cut side.
  • Place on a cookie sheet lined with tin foil, cut side down.
  • Roast for 50 minutes to one hour. The skins will shrivel and blacken, and that is a GOOD THING. A nice long roasting time brings a lot of depth and smokiness to the eggplant’s flavor.
  • While the eggplant is roasting, prep your other ingredients – peel the garlic, squeeze the lemon, chop the parsley, stir up the tahini (the oil separates) and get your spices ready.
  • Remove the eggplant from the oven and let cool before attempting to handle (they are much easier to peel when they are completely cooled, so if you can roast in the morning and set aside for later, DO IT).
  • Add the whole peeled garlic to the Cuisinart first, and whir it up (this saves you from mincing garlic, you’re welcome).
  •  Scoop the flesh from the eggplant (or peel the skin away with your hands) and place the flesh in the Cuisinart.
  • Add the lemon juice, tahini, cumin, smoked paprika, salt.
  • Pulse to blend. It does not need to be a puree, more like a chunky dip.
  • Scoop the mixture out of the Cuisinart and into a bowl.
  • Stir in the parsley and olive oil with a spoon.
  • Dish into a smaller, pretty bowl, garnish with the bit of chopped parsley you reserved and maybe another drizzle of olive oil.

Pillar Tips:

  • Popular opinion is that you have to generously salt a cut-and-peeled eggplant and let the salted pieces stand or place in a colander for an hour to extract moisture BUT that is only necessary when frying (like with Eggplant Parm). When you’re roasting eggplant, you can skip that step. Hurray!
  • When roasting veg always line your cookie sheet with tin foil unless you like scraping and scrubbing baked veg juices off cookie sheets.
  • The reason I specify Diamond brand kosher salt is because Morton is much saltier. So if you’re using Morton, add the salt slowly and taste as you go. I prefer Diamond, just sayin.
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