Sunday, January 26, 2014

Party Food for the Big Game: Roasted Eggplant Dip

What big game? The Superbowl, of course. Which is Super Duper this year because my Denver Broncos are in it! I just had to throw that out there. :-)

This dip is made with roasted eggplants, which I consider the best way to cook an eggplant. You can roast them in the oven or on the grill. The grill results in better flavor - really brings out the smokiness, but the oven does an admirable job. Unless you want a full-on oven mess, you must remember to poke the eggplants before they go in the oven. When the steam builds up in there, it's like a ticking eggplant bomb.

This is based on a recipe for baba ghanoush, which is a rich, creamy delicious roasted eggplant dip from the Middle East. You can see a recipe for traditional baba ghanoush on my other blog, World on a Platter. This recipe doesn't use tahini, which is ground sesame seed paste. It has a very distinctive flavor, with a hint of bitterness. Some folks don't enjoy it, so, here's a more approachable roasted eggplant dip made with yogurt. It's very mild. You can jazz it up with any number of garnishes: lots of olive oil, chopped walnuts, crumbled feta cheese, or roasted pine nuts. All of these would be yummy. If you don't finish all the dip, it also makes an excellent sandwich spread paired with mild cheeses like cream cheese or American muenster.

For readers in Boulder, eggplants are really cheap right now at King Soopers (through Tuesday) and at Sprouts (through Wednesday). Good week to make eggplant dip!

Roasted Eggplant Dip
(serves 12 as a dip, 6 as a sandwich spread, costs $6.25 when eggplants are $1 each)

2 eggplants, poked a few times with a fork
2 cloves garlic
¾ teaspoon coarse salt
¼ cup plain low fat Greek yogurt
juice of ½ a lemon
¼ teaspoon black pepper
¾ teaspoon ground cumin
4 - 6 sprigs fresh mint, minced (about 2 Tablespoons)
2 Tablespoons fragrant extra-virgin olive oil

Heat the oven to 400°F. Place the eggplants on a cookie sheet. Roast in the oven for 40-60 minutes, turning every 20 minutes. The eggplant needs to get very soft, so don't worry about overcooking it. Remove from the oven and allow to cool while you get the rest of the ingredients ready.

Smash the garlic on a cutting board and then sprinkle it with ¼ teaspoon coarse salt. Using the flat side of your knife, mush the salt into the garlic. You want to place the blade parallel to the board and drag the sharp side of the blade through the garlic. In the beginning, you won't seem to get anywhere with this, but keep mushing until the garlic and salt have formed a smooth paste. This takes a little practice, but it's a great technique for getting a smooth garlic paste.

Cut the stem ends off each eggplant and peel off the skin. Drop the flesh into a food processor with a steel blade. Process until smooth. Add the garlic paste, the remaining ½ teaspoon of salt, yogurt, lemon juice, black pepper, and cumin. Process again to mix well. Mix in the mint. Taste for seasoning - you may want to add more salt, pepper, or lemon juice. Turn out into a serving bowl and drizzle with olive oil and any others garnishes (see article for some suggestions). Serve with crackers or pita bread pieces.

Adapted from 100 Great Lite Bites by Silvana Franco, Sterling Publishing,

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