Eggplant is a beautiful onyx of a vegetable--hanging off its plant looking all rich and sexy. Until you cook it. And then it is uggally (definition: the state of being so ugly the word must be drawn out and exaggerated, even in written form). I always want to grow eggplant. And buy eggplant. But then after I make it, no one wants to eat eggplant. This must be very sad for eggplant. After all it's still nutritious. It's still valuable. It's still totally delicious. But it doesn't look it. Such is the lot of today's dip. It is not the sexiest dip that will ever grace your table.
True story: I roasted up my eggplant for this dip, scooped out its ugly flesh and put it in my little Magic Bullet cup where it sat in my fridge for three more days. It was just so homely. I nearly threw it away twice--me--fierce opponent to throwing away of food no matter how unsightly it may be. The ugly (ha) truth is that I just couldn't imagine it tasting that good. It's true. And I'm ashamed. Because eggplant, much like women who have birthed four children, should not be discarded merely because the luster of youth has faded away. Eggplant, in fact, (much like women who have birthed four children), only gets better with a little life experience under its belt. Eggplant, in fact, is gross in its raw, uncooked (and still beautiful) state, but perfectly amazing in this not-very-attractive-but-butt-kickingly-tasty dip.
Besides the fact that this dip isn't going to be the next Disney Princess, the only thing I should warn you about is that it takes a while to make because you're going to char and then roast the eggplant. It really really gives it a nice flavor, and it's not hard to do, but it doesn't mean that this won't be on your table in less than 30 minutes. I charred and roasted mine when it was convenient and then just left it in the fridge for several days until I was ready for a quick lunch.
adapted from Smitten Kitchen
makes a couple cups or about 4 small servings
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes to roast and however long it takes you to char (on the grill that will be shorter; under my broiler, it took a while)
eggplant: 2.00 (farmer's market prices), tahini: .75, other stuff: .40
2 medium eggplants (a pound or less each)
1-2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp coarse salt
6 Tbsp tahini
2 garlic cloves (smallish, unless you love garlic)
juice of a lemon (or 2-3 Tbsp)
pinch of cayenne pepper
couple pinches ground cumin
parsley for garnish
Char your eggplant. This can be done on the grill, over the flame of a gas stove, or under your broiler. I used the broiler, turning the eggplant a quarter turn every 8 minutes or so. It took a while (which surprised me); I think the other methods would be faster, but the nice thing about the broiler is you don't have to pay it too much attention (as you would holding it over a flame).
Heat oven to 375. Brush a baking sheet with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.
After the eggplants are charred, let them cool enough to handle and then cut them in half. Place them flesh-side down on the baking sheet and roast for about 30 minutes or until they're very tender when pressed or pierced.
Scrape out the eggplant flesh and put it into a blender or food processor (I used a Magic Bullet.) Discard the skins. I cooled my flesh before making the rest of the dip, but you don't have to. Add tahini, lemon, cayeen, cumin, and parsley if you'd like (I skipped the parsley and used it merely as a garnish).
Pulse in blender until it's the consistency you desire (I like mine a bit of the mushy side so that it's more hummus-like, but it can be left chunky if that's your thing.) Taste and adjust seasonings.
Serve with tortilla chips, sour dough bread, or vegetables.