I often hear people describe their feelings about eggplant using only the strongest of terms. In fact, it seems there’s not much middle ground when it comes to this controversial vegetable. Belonging to the nightshade family, the eggplant is often crushed beneath the shadow of its siblings, the tomato and potato. Unfortunately, the only exposure that most Americans get to eggplant is eggplant parmesan — which in my opinion is a just a hot mess of a dish. Breading and frying a vegetable, covering it in cheese and tomato sauce, and serving it with enough pasta to feed a family of four doesn’t really give you enough perspective to judge whether or not you like it, much less if you hate it.
If I were teaching an advanced course on how to love eggplant, my first dish would be something like this: Slice eggplant. Roast eggplant. Eat eggplant. Roasting the vegetable brings out a lovely nutty and smokey flavor that’s as great on its own as it is added to other dishes. However, I don’t really expect you to jump in and nosh on some plain eggplant (although props if you do!), so I figured that it might be better to start with something a little more palatable to someone who’s already a skeptic.
This recipe came about as most of mine do, by combining a craving with what ingredients I have available. Essentially, I wanted eggplant, and I also had a bag of pita chips that were about to go stale, so dip it was! This dip borrows heavily from the Middle Eastern and Mediterranean dish Baba Ganoush, and makes the most of the smoky flavor I was talking about. Whether paired with warm pita, pita chips, or raw vegetables, this dip is a great way to ease yourself into cooking with this misunderstood vegetable.
1 medium to large eggplant
2 Tbsp greek yogurt
2 tsp tahini
1 cloves of garlic
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
salt, generous pinch
1/2 tsp cumin
Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees F.
Cut the eggplant in half length-ways and place skin-side up on a baking tray. Drizzle a little olive oil over the top of the flesh and bake for 1 hour.
Allow the eggplant to cool. Remove the skin — it should peel off quite nicely. Put the pulp into your food processor, along with the garlic, tahini, yogurt, and lemon juice and pulse until it reaches the desired consistency. Season with salt and cumin to taste.
To serve, pour dip into a lovely container (I chose a stemless martini glass), and drizzle with olive oil.