Greek-style eggplant spread served with pitas. Click on the other pix to enlarge and read the captions.Photo/Illustration: Susan Belsinger
Char the skins of the eggplant so they blacken slowly; you can do this on the stovetop, grill or under the broiler. This softens the flesh inside and gives it a smoky flavor.
Let the eggplants cool until you can handle them.
Use a sharp knife, or your hands to peel away the charred skin.
The skin is easily removed; be careful to not take any flesh with it.
Halve the eggplants to put them in the processor to puree them, or chop them by hand.
Roasted and peeled eggplant ready for salad or spread.
There are variations to this yummy spread from adding tomatoes or tahini to yogurt.
Makes about 2 1/2 cups
2 or 3 small-to-medium eggplants; about 1 pound+
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper
About 1/3 cup chopped onion
3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
Handful of flat-leaved Italian parsley leaves
2 tablespoons fresh chopped basil leaves, or 1 tablespoon chopped oregano leaves
About 3 to 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
About 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Red chile paste or cayenne pepper, optional
1 ripe tomato, diced fine
This eggplant spread is delicious served with pitas, crusty French bread, or crudités and accompanied with some olives; maybe served with a tomato, cucumber and feta salad. I eat it for breakfast on toast. This is better made a few hours, or a day in advance.
In Greece, if you want to order this, you ask for eggplant salad. This eggplant spread is delicious served with pitas, crusty French bread, or crudités and accompanied with some olives; maybe served with a tomato, cucumber and feta salad. I eat it for breakfast on toast. This is better made a few hours, or a day in advance. It keeps, tightly covered, in the refrigerator for 4 or 5 days.
Place the eggplants over a stovetop flame (I have a little stovetop grill for this purpose), or the barbecue grill, or on a baking sheet under the broiler. Slowly char the eggplants, turning them to blacken all over. This should take about 5, not more than 10 minutes. The eggplant should feel soft. Put the eggplants in a brown bag and let them sit until cool enough to handle.
When the eggplants are cool, peel the charred skin off with a paring knife or use your hands; it should come off easily. Cut the stem end off and halve the eggplant lengthwise down the center.
Put the eggplant into the bowl of a food processor and sprinkle it with the salt and a little pepper. Add the onion, garlic, herbs, olive oil, lemon juice, and process until not quite smooth. Add a little red chile paste or cayenne if desired and the tomatoes and process until just blended. Taste for seasoning and adjust with lemon juice, salt, or chile paste. The spread is best if allowed to stand for at least 1 hour before serving.
~ Add 1 cup Greek-style yogurt to make a creamy dip; perhaps add another clove of garlic.
~ Add about 1/4 cup tahini (ground sesame paste) to make it more like babaghanoush; since the tahini is rich and oily, you may need to add a little more lemon juice.
~ Add a generous handful of ground walnuts.
~ Garnish with some thins slices of red onion.
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