Leave it to Ina Garten to make me an eggplant fan.
As we all know, my previous bout with the cloyingly purple vegetable ended with a shriveled, brown batch of cockroach-esque baby eggplant in the trash and a kale smoothie as a last-minute dinner stand-in.
Yet even with the memory of that failed recipe looming, Ina’s roasted eggplant dip beckoned me from her stainless-steel-clad kitchen in the Hamptons. It was also Ina who would have been shaking her head in disapproval when I settled for using a crippled, aged red pepper from Gristedes in place of a ‘good’ pepper. (If we’re being honest here, it wasn’t even the best one of the bunch since I picked that one up first and promptly dropped it on the floor. Twice.) Moving on.
This dip is spectacular, wrinkly old vegetables and all. Roasting the ingredients draws out their natural sweetness, which is balanced by a subtle kick of cayenne. After 40 minutes in the oven and a quick whiz in the food processor, the entire recipe is pretty hands-off. Which means more quality time with Ina and her gay-tourage. Or your family and friends, whatever.
Regardless of who you share it with – Definitely take this one for a spin this holiday! Your guests won’t be disappointed.
[Original recipe from Food Network]
2 medium eggplant, peeled and roughly cubed
1 red bell pepper, seeded and roughly cubed
1 medium red onion, peeled and roughly cubed
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
¼ tsp cayenne pepper (1/2 tsp for more heat)
¼ tsp paprika
2 tbsp tahini (sesame paste)
Juice of 1 lemon (about 2 tbsp)
Zest of 1 lemon (about 1 tbsp)
Handful of flat-leaf Italian parsley, chopped
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Place all of the chopped veggies (eggplant, pepper, onion and garlic) on a foil-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with cayenne and paprika. Toss well to coat.
Roast for 40 minutes, stirring halfway through, until veggies are tender and lightly browned.
Transfer veggies to a food processor. Add tahini, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Pulse 4-5 times until dip is uniformly chopped but not pureed. Taste, and add more salt and pepper if needed. (If you have a smaller food processor, you may need to do this in 2 batches. Just add ½ of tahini and lemon juice/zest each time, then fold together both batches in a bowl.)
Transfer dip to a serving bowl, and fold in chopped parlsey. Serve warm, cold or room temperature with gluten free bagel chips, crackers, pita chips or crudités.