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Versatility of Eggplant– Lemony Eggplant Parsley Dip

January 29, 2012

I have the simplest tastes. I am always satisfied with the best.
~ Oscar Wilde ~

Aubergine in the UK, brinjal in India, melanzana  in Italy, and field egg in West Africa; versatility of eggplant makes it one of my favorite vegetables of all times.  Greek moussaka, Middle Eastern baba ghanoush, Italian caponata, or Indian stuffed brinjals– options are endless.  And they all are delicious.

When it comes to popularity of eggplant, most people either love it or hate it.  I love it for its taste and adaptability.  Its sponge-like texture absorbs the flavors around it very well.  And its smoky and earthy taste often makes it an ideal substitute for meat.  Serve it hot or cold, fried or baked; it always passes the test.

Tall and slender Japanese and Chinese eggplant, large and pear-shaped American eggplant, or short and round Indian eggplant– they all have their unique physical characteristics.  But at the same time, they all taste almost the same.  The smaller and the lighter ones have tender skin and are milder in taste.  Purple, green, or white in color, they all make good kitchen companions for several cuisines from around the world.

I often tend to buy a few extra eggplants than needed when they are fresh.  Call it temptation.  But then comes the challenge of not letting them go to waste.  The easiest way– roast them.  Whole or cut, drizzle some oil and let hot oven do the work.  Roasting intensifies the smoky flavor.  Store in the refrigerator for 4-5 days or freeze for later use.  They always come in handy when in doubt what to cook.

Early this week, I couldn’t help buying more eggplants than I needed.  Hence, I roasted them, and refrigerated them in an airtight container.  Since then I have enjoyed them on pasta, in salad, and in rice.  Added  some herbs, garlic, and spices, and meal was ready in no time.  I was one happy camper.  Other options– use as pizza topping, in panini, or as dips and spreads, and don’t forget stews or curries.  That’s versatility!


After savoring a few delicious eggplant meals, I also made a dip with the remaining leftover roasted eggplant.  This recipe is very simple.  A few basic ingredients from fridge and pantry is all it takes to make it.  I added some green olives, parsley, lemon, garlic, and spices to it; and I had this flavorful, smoky dip to enjoy with crackers, pita chips, or bread.  This dip can also be used as a spread on sandwiches.  Not a bad bargain, I say.

Recipe

1 medium American eggplant
2 large cloves of garlic
4-5 large green olives with pimentos
Handful of parsley, washed
Juice and zest of ½ lemon or to taste
½ teaspoon ground cumin
Salt to taste
2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil plus some to drizzle on top

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Wash and dry eggplant.  Cut lengthwise in quarters.  Rub some olive oil and roast for 25-30 minutes or until tender.  Let it cool.

Once the eggplant is cool, pulse garlic, olives, and parsley until chopped.  Add roasted eggplant, zest and juice of lemon, cumin , salt, and olive oil.  Process until pureed to desired consistency (I prefer a little coarse puree).

Transfer the eggplant dip to a serving bowl.  Drizzle some extra virgin olive oil.  Garnish with parsley.

Enjoy!

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