Still In Season: Eggplant

It is the end of October, and I’m still finding great eggplant at the farmers market. 

Last week, I loaded up on the smaller, Italian-style eggplant and decided to save one for a smooth, healthy dip to serve at an upcoming party.  Since the base of the dip is roasted eggplant, rather than a fat like mayonnaise or sour cream, you don’t have to feel guilty about indulging.

 Preparing this dip is extremely simple.  I happened to be roasting some veggies one night for dinner, so I did some double-duty with my hot oven and roasted the eggplant whole.  It is important to pierce the skin all over with a fork before roasting, or else you may end up with a mini-explosion (and a huge mess) in your oven.  Simply place it in a baking dish, unadorned, and roast until the eggplant is very soft and wrinkly (see photo right).

Unless you have the “asbestos hands” you always hear television chefs talking about, allow the eggplant to cool for at least a half an hour, or until you are able to handle it.  At this point you can remove the skin, which can be accomplished in two ways.  You could split the eggplant lengthwise and use a spoon to scoop out the flesh, or, if your eggplant is very well cooked, you can just use your hands to gently peel the skin away from the soft insides.

Eggplant on its own is relatively bland, so salt is essential in this dip.  Simply place the eggplant, salt, and olive oil in a food processor (fitted with the metal blade) and pulse until smooth.  Then by hand, mix in  some feta, chopped walnuts, and fresh parsley.  I prefer to do it this way so the feta, nuts, and parsley remain a little on the chunky side, rather than getting completely pureed in the food processor.  I also love to add a tablespoon of roasted garlic, which adds tremendous flavor.  Stir to combine and you have a delicious, tangy, healthy dip perfect for pita chips, crackers, or even fresh veggies. 

Roasted Eggplant Dip with Feta

Makes about 1 ½  cups

1 large eggplant, pierced all over with a fork

2 tablespoons olive oil

Salt & pepper

½ cup crumbled feta cheese

½ cup walnuts, chopped

½ cup fresh flat leaf Italian parsley, chopped

1 tablespoon roasted garlic (click here for recipe)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Place whole eggplant in an oven-proof baking dish and roast until completely softened and collapsed (about one hour).  Remove from oven and allow eggplant to cool.

Remove the skin from the eggplant (as described above), and place into the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade.  Add oil, salt and pepper and pulse until smooth.  Remove to a bowl and add feta, walnuts, parsley, and garlic. 

Stir to combine and serve with pita chips or raw veggies.

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2 Responses to “Still In Season: Eggplant”

  1. Elena Says:

    I just discovered your website, and I must say it’s exactly my style of cooking. One suggestion on the eggplan, try grilling it (charcoal or a good gas grill would be best.) Grilling really enhances eggplant’s flavor.

  2. Tracy Says:

    Thank you! Glad you enjoy it!! I’m with you on the grilled eggplant—YUM! Check out my post about that here: http://twolia.com/blogs/season-to-taste/2008/08/05/in-season-eggplant/
    Definitely subscribe to the blog so you don’t miss any recipes! –Tracy

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