My family is more than a little obsessed with the eggplant spread — or melitzanosalata — at It's Greek to Me. The creamy eggplant is perfectly balanced with lemon, garlic, fresh herbs, and salt. Nathan and I could sit down with just that, and a mountain of pillowy, hot-off-the-griddle pita bread, and stuff ourselves like fat little dolmades.
Needless to say, when I saw a pile of gorgeous eggplants at the farmers market, I greedily snagged several, with eggplant spread fully on my mind. I used this David Lebovitz eggplant caviar recipe, because 1) David Lebovitz recipes are always fantastic, and 2) I loved the idea of the seared, blackened eggplant skins imparting a subtle smokiness to the spread.
Always go for the smoke, right? Perhaps a rule to live by.
To see the recipe she uses for this scrumptious eggplant dish, read more.
One note — definitely don't forget to poke a few holes in the whole eggplants before setting them on the hot grill. If you don't, you'll learn that eggplants explode rather loudly.
When the skins are blackened, finish roasting the eggplants in the oven, until they're falling-apart tender. Scrape the flesh into a bowl, mash with plenty of garlic & herbs, drizzle with olive oil, and smear generously on warm, grilled bread.
Commence stuffing yourself.
From David Lebovitz www.davidlebovitz.com
About 6 servings
Stephanie's note: we love eggplant spread served with warm, grilled naan or pocketless pita bread. The contrast of the cool dip with warm bread elevates it all to sublime. Also: the dip is at its peak flavor the day after you make it.
3 small or 2 medium eggplants
1 Tbsp. olive oil, plus additional for preparing the pan, drizzling
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 clove garlic or shallot, peeled and minced (or both)
1/2 tsp. smoked or sea salt
1/8 tsp. chili pepper powder
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh mint, parsley, cilantro, or basil
Preheat the grill (unless using a gas burner; see below.) Brush a baking sheet with olive oil and sprinkle it with a bit of salt. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Poke each eggplant a few times with a sharp knife and rest them over a gas flame on the stovetop, or a grill, turning them occasionally with tongs, until they're charred on the outside and feel soft and wilted. Depending on how smoky you want them, roast them for 5 to 10 minutes.
When cool enough to handle, cut the eggplants in half lengthwise, and place them cut side down on the oiled baking sheet. Bake the eggplants until the flesh is thoroughly cooked, which should take about 20 minutes, but may vary.
Remove the eggplants from the oven and once cool enough to handle, scrape the pulp from the skins into the bowl of a food processor. (You can also scrape them into a bowl, and mash them by hand with a fork.) Add the tablespoon of olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and/or shallot, salt, and chili pepper powder. Pulse the food processor a few times, until the mixture is almost smooth. Add the herbs and pulse a few more times. Taste and add additional salt, lemon, or other seasonings, as desired.
To serve, spoon into a bowl and make a well in the center. Pour a bit of olive oil in the middle and sprinkle with chili powder or chopped fresh herbs. Crisp toasts, crackers, or pita triangles are good accompaniments. (Can be refrigerated for up to 5 days.)