(Mass Appeal) – One of the most versatile, and perhaps under-utilized vegetables you’ll find at local farm stands right now, is eggplant! Here with a delicious way to use this seasonal offering is our diva of deliciousness, Tinky Weisblat!
This savory spread starring eggplant is great as a dip or in sandwiches. You may certainly grill the eggplant here instead of baking it; that will give it lovely flavor. If you grill it, it will require frequent turning.
1 12-ounce eggplant (Adjust the other ingredients if your eggplant is larger or smaller.)
1 tablespoon olive oil plus a little for rubbing on the eggplant
3 to 4 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup tahini
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped or crushed (For more mellow flavor, roast a whole head of garlic and use some of that; see instructions.)
About 2 teaspoons sea salt
1/2 teaspoon cumin (ground or in seeds), or to taste
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
If you wish to roast the garlic, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Pull the outside skin off the head of garlic, but leave the individual skins around the garlic cloves.
Cut off the tips of the garlic cloves. Place the garlic head in a small baking dish. (An ovenproof ramekin does nicely.) Drizzle oil over the exposed parts of the garlic, using your fingers to make sure the oil touches all the visible garlic. Sprinkle salt and pepper over all. Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil.
Bake the garlic until it feels soft, about 30 to 40 minutes. (You may bake it at the same time as the eggplant; see below.) Allow the garlic to cool until you can touch it; then squeeze the individual cloves out of their skins and into a bowl. Mash the garlic with a fork.
You won’t need all of your roasted garlic for this recipe, but it’s great to refrigerate and save for other dishes.
For the eggplant, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut the eggplant in half so that you have two long pieces. Lightly oil the sides that don’t have skin.
Roast the eggplant in a baking dish for 40 minutes, turning it halfway through cooking. If it smells done in fewer minutes, check it; if it is soft and looks caramelized, it is done. Take the eggplant out of the oven, allow it to cool for 10 minutes, and then peel it and cut off the stem.
If the eggplant is soft enough, you may be able to scoop out the insides instead of peeling it. Don’t wait more than 10 minutes to peel/scoop; those actions will get harder as the eggplant cools.
Chop the eggplant into pieces; then puree them in a blender or food processor. Blend in most of the lemon juice, and slowly add the tahini.
Take the raw garlic or a quarter to a half of your roasted garlic paste, and combine it with 1 teaspoon of the salt. Add that mixture and the cumin to the eggplant and tahini and blend well. Taste and add more seasonings as needed.
Blend in the tablespoon of olive oil and most of the parsley. Put the spread in a dish and serve it with a little more parsley as a garnish. Or refrigerate it, covered, until you’re ready to serve it. Make sure it comes to room temperature again before serving. Serve with pita bread, crackers, chips, or veggies.