Eggplant is one of my favorite vegetables. It started with fried Eggplant in my Mother’s kitchen, and through the years I have experienced eggplant in many ways. I have made Ina Garten’s Eggplant Spread dozens of times. This recipe is more like baba ganoush, with that wonderful smoky flavor. The dip would be wonderful served with a fresh Greek Salad.
SMOKY EGGPLANT DIP
Makes about 2 cups
2 medium eggplants (about 1 pound each) 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided 1 teaspoon coarse or kosher salt, or to taste 6 tablespoons tahini (sesame seed paste), well-stirred if a new container 2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced or pressed Juice of 1 lemon, plus more to taste, if desired Pinch of cayenne or aleppo pepper Pinch or two of ground cumin 2 tablespoons well-chopped flat-leaf parsley, divided Toasted sesame seeds or za’atar for garnish (optional)
Heat oven to 375°F.
Brush a baking sheet or roasting pan with 1 tablespoon olive oil, and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt.
Prick eggplants a few times with a fork or tip of a knife. Over a gas flame, grill or under a broiler, evenly char the skin of your eggplants. I like mine quite smoky and like to leave no purple visible. Transfer to a cutting board, and when cool enough to handle, trim off stem and cut lengthwise. Place cut side down on prepared baking sheet and roast for 30 to 35 minutes, until very, very tender when pressed. Let cool to room temperature.
Next Step Option 1: Food Processor: In a blender or food processor: Scrape eggplant flesh from skin and into the work bowl. Add tahini, lemon, cayenne, cumin and 1 tablespoon parsley. Blend in short bursts (pulses) until combined but still coarsely chopped.
Taste and adjust ingredients if needed. You may wish to add more salt and lemon.
To serve: Spoon into a bowl and drizzle with remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Scatter with second tablespoon of parsley, and some toasted sesame seeds or za’atar, if desired. Serve with pita wedges or naan.
It seems my world truly revolves around food, as it does for my daughters! Our oldest daughter, Megan, was married last year; we asked bridal shower guests to share a favorite recipe to insert in a cookbook. This year daughter, Sarah, is also engaged and we did the same for her shower. I photocopied hand-written recipes of Grandmothers, Great-Grandmothers, and other family members no longer with us. We also asked each guest to write a note the bride inside the cookbook.
As favors, we gave each guest a copy of three of Megan’s favorite dip/spread recipes which we also served at her shower.
The dips shared were Cheesy Apple Spread (today’s post), Hot Wing Dip, and Peach Salsa. They are all family favorites. The Cheesy Apple Spread recipe has been in my recipe box for at least 30 years. Younger daughter, Sarah, loves this dip as well and prepared the dip for the shower. Cheesy Apple Spread is truly an oldie but still a goodie!
CHEESY APPLE SPREAD
8 ounces low-fat cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup low-fat mayonnaise
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup chopped apple
Blend together the cream cheese and mayonnaise. Add shredded cheese and chopped apple. Chill until ready to serve with Ritz or other favorite crackers.
My love of eggplant began when I was a young child. My mother would peel and slice the eggplant, sprinkle with salt, and let rest on paper towels for 30-45 minutes to remove the bitterness. She would then flour, salt and pepper the eggplant, and brown the eggplant slices in hot oil. The hot eggplant slices were then put on a slice of bread and eaten as a sandwich. I STILL love eggplant this way but have searched for healthier ways to cook eggplant.
This spread is a new favorite. Rumor has it that the original recipe came from the Barefoot Contessa.
It is difficult for me to resist eating the cubed eggplant straight from the roasting pan but the majority usually makes it to the food processor. I often eat this as a side dish as well as a spread. Either way…you can’t beat the wonderful flavor of eggplant. YUM!
ROASTED EGGPLANT SPREAD
2 medium eggplant, peeled
2 red bell peppers, seeded
1 red (or sweet) onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon tomato paste
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Cut the eggplant, bell pepper, and onion into 1 inch cubes. Toss them in a large bowl with garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper.
Spread on greased baking sheet. Roast for 45 minutes until the vegetables are lightly browned and soft, tossing one time during the roasting process. Cool slightly.
Place the vegetables in a food processor. Add the tomato paste and pulse to blend. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Optional: serve with crumbled feta cheese on crackers, bread or pita chips.