Eggplant is a vegetable that I hated as a child (up there with zucchini). In my young naivete, I found its taste to be odd, too foreign even. It was nothing like the bland tasting carrots and green beans that I was accustomed to (my mom steamed everything just about). However, now that I’m older AND wiser, eggplant is one of my favorite vegetables and possibly one of my favorite foods. It’s something that I could happily eat every day just about. And as I’ve been doing a lot of grilling since the monsoon season in Pittsburgh has finally abated, I’ve also been cooking eggplant on the grill a couple of times a week. I first mix in some Turkish seasoning with olive oil, and then I coat both sides of the eggplant with this. The result is a delicious side dish.
As I’ve discussed before on the blog, I love the fact that eggplant is such a versatile food, meaning there are so many different ways of preparing it. I also like how it can found in cuisines from all around the world (everywhere from Europe to Asia to Africa even), making it truly a universal food article.
I had first made this dip a couple of years ago for a party. As it turned out phenomenal and was incredibly easy to make, I decided to make it again to go with dinner last month. I bought some pita for dipping purposes and it was a great side dish, not to mention incredibly healthy. It’s definitely the perfect go-to recipe whether you need a quick dish to take with you to a party or you’re just looking for something other than frozen or canned vegetables.
Spicy Eggplant Dip
Recipe adapted from Williams-Sonoma
- 1/2 cup plus 3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil,
plus more for brushing
- 2 eggplant, each about 12 oz.,
peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon Middle Eastern/Mediterranean seasoning (think Ras El Hanout or baharat)
- 1/4 tsp. ground cumin
- Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 2 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 2 Tbs. chopped fresh oregano
- Juice of 1 lemon
In a 4-quart deep sauté pan over medium heat, warm 1/4 cup of the olive oil until nearly smoking. Add half of the eggplant and sauté, stirring occasionally, until lightly golden and tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a platter and repeat with 1/4 cup of the olive oil and the remaining eggplant. Transfer to the platter.
Warm 1 Tbs. of the olive oil in the pan. Add the garlic and sauté, stirring often, until just golden, about 1 minute. Add the onion and sauté, stirring occasionally, until tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in the chili flakes and cumin until blended and return the eggplant to the pan. Cook, stirring often, until the eggplant is very tender and almost mushy, 6 to 8 minutes more. Remove from the heat and let cool for 5 minutes.
Transfer the eggplant mixture to a food processor or blender and puree until smooth. Taste and adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper, and stir in the parsley, lemon juice and the remaining 2 Tbs. olive oil. Transfer to a sealable container and refrigerate for 1 to 2 days.