Eggplants that are grilled or roasted become soft and wonderfully rich. This version is flavored with garlic, cumin and paprika powder, typically Levantine flavors. You can make another version using finely chopped parsley, garlic and chopped tomato for a more Provencal character; for an Israeli or Lebanese variant, you could add tahini and whole sesame seeds.
Grilling is the best option because it creates a smoky flavor, but smoked paprika and/or smoked salt can be used instead.
This is great as a side dish with roast chicken, grilled fish or lamb; as a starter on grilled bread; or as a dip with freshly baked pita bread or focaccia. Serve with roasted red peppers or pickled chili peppers.
Make Ahead: The dip can be made 1 day in advance; cover tightly and refrigerate.
Servings: 3 cups
- 2 medium eggplants, about 14 to 16 ounces each
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 to 3 teaspoons sweet paprika or smoked paprika
- 2 to 3 teaspoons cumin seeds, coarsely crushed
- 2 to 4 medium cloves garlic, crushed
- Salt or smoked salt
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
Place the whole eggplants on the lined sheet and roast for 35 to 45 minutes, until they have collapsed slightly. Let them cool for 10 minutes, then cut in half lengthwise. Use a spoon to scoop out the flesh and place it in a medium mixing bowl.
Add the oil, paprika, cumin seeds and garlic to taste; use a fork to mash and combine. (If you want a very smooth texture, you can puree the mixture in a food processor or press it through a fine-mesh strainer.)
Season with salt or smoked salt to taste. Serve right away or cover and refrigerate.
From Gastronomer columnist Andreas Viestad.
Tested by Kathleen Hom.
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