Preparing for house guests is about more than just food, but the food is very important. I’m a last-minute kind of cook, but I keep a well-stocked pantry and refrigerator. My frequent forays to the Farmer’s Markets ensure that the menu could change at any moment, depending on what is fresh and appealing. Perfect, plump, purple eggplant was the inspiration for this appetizer dip.
This is a simple preparation: blacken the eggplant on the grill (or under a broiler), scrape the tender flesh from the skin, season with lots of fresh garlic, lemon juice, and chopped parsley. Then serve with grilled bread, crackers, or vegetable crudites. It’s another great addition to the happy hour/pre-dinner snack tray. I just happened to have some pizza dough at the ready, so once the eggplant was done, I grilled thin slabs of pizza dough and sliced them into strips to serve with the dip.
Don’t be afraid to really char the heck out of that eggplant. The result will be a wonderfully smoky flavor. Reserve the dark liquid that surrounds the eggplant as it rests after cooking. That is also a source of intense smoky, eggplant essence. Get outdoors, fire up the grill, and get cooking. Summer is just around the corner.
Eggplant Dip with Garlic, Lemon, and Parsley
A burnt eggplant dip with the intense flavors of garlic, lemon, and fresh parsley. Perfect with grilled bread, crackers, or crudites.
- 1 medium, purple globe eggplant
- 1 clove garlic, peeled and grated on a microplane
- 1 lemon, halved and juiced
- 1-2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped, fresh flat leaf parsley
- kosher salt, to taste
Rinse the eggplant and roast it, on a grill or under the broiler, turning frequently, until the skin is blackened and the flesh is quite soft. This will take 15 to 30 minutes. Carefully transfer the eggplant to a shallow bowl, cover it with plastic wrap, and let it stand until cooled to room temperature.
Remove the blackened skin from the eggplant (it should peel off in large shards), and transfer the flesh to a mixing bowl. Add the grated garlic, half the lemon juice and olive oil, and a tablespoon of the dark eggplant liquid from the bowl. Season the mixture with salt and chop the eggplant, right in the bowl, with a fork and knife, to a chunky texture. Taste the mixture and add the remaining lemon juice and olive oil if desired, and additional salt. Fold in the chopped parsley and transfer the mixture to a serving bowl.
Serve the dip with grilled bread, crackers, or vegetable crudites. Store any leftovers, tightly covered, in the refrigerator for 3 days.
I can't stress enough the importance of thoroughly blackening the eggplant. This simple preparation depends on the dominant smoky flavor produced by "burning" the eggplant. Don't be timid, the results are worth it!