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Grilled Or Roasted Eggplant Dip
There is nothing like grilled eggplant, and its smoky flavor makes a sensational dip; if you grill or roast a red pepper at the same time, so much the better. Serve with bread or crackers, or use as a sandwich spread.
Makes: 6 to 8 servings
Time: About 1 hour, largely unattended
2 medium or 4 small eggplant (about 1 pound)
1 red bell pepper (optional)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, or more as needed
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon chopped garlic, or to taste
Salt and pepper
Chopped fresh parsley for garnish
1. Turn on the broiler and position the rack about 4 inches below the heat, prepare a charcoal or gas grill for high direct cooking, or heat the oven to 500°F. Pierce the eggplant in several places with a thin knife or skewer. Grill or roast it, along with the pepper if you’re using one, turning occasionally, until the eggplant and pepper collapse and their skins blacken, 15 to 30 minutes depending on size. Remove, wrap with foil, and let cool.
2. When the eggplant is cool enough to handle, unwrap it, make a cut in the skin (if it hasn’t split on its own), scoop out the flesh, and chop it as finely as you can manage. Peel and core the pepper if you’re using it, then chop it. Mix the eggplant and pepper with the lemon juice, oil, and garlic, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Garnish with parsley and serve.
A little more elaborate: Omit the oil and bell pepper. While the eggplant is grilling or roasting, toast 1 ⁄ 2 cup pine nuts in a dry skillet over medium heat, shaking occasionally, just until they begin to brown. When the eggplant is cool, put it in a food processor with the pine nuts, lemon juice, garlic, pepper, and 1 ⁄ 3 cup tahini. Process until very smooth, adding a few teaspoons water or olive oil if necessary. Taste and add salt and/or more lemon juice or garlic to taste. Garnish with chopped fresh parsley and serve.
Grilled Or Roasted Vegetable Dip
Works for carrots, parsnips, green beans, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, or winter squash: Trim and if necessary peel 1 1 ⁄ 2 pounds of any vegetable mentioned. If you’re roasting or using a grill pan, chop the vegetables; otherwise leave them whole. Toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Grill or roast, shaking the pan (or turning whole pieces) to cook them evenly, until they’re quite tender. Purée in a food processor or blender with a little water and more olive oil.
Recipe from How to Cook Everything: Completely Revised 20th Anniversary Edition (Photo: Aya Brackett)