Monday, July 9, 2012

Summer of Eggplant Part III, Revenge of Eggplant

When I started this blog it was not my intent to feature an eggplant recipe every year.  The story behind the name is a different one than that of an innate love of eggplant.  But it has become expected of me and I guess I can do my best to help a vegetable (fruit actually) out.  This particular vegetable seems to have some pretty bad PR, even worse than the other ones.  This year’s eggplant installment is sponsored by Georgia Tech.  
The other day Jim, the kids and I were dining in the student center at Tech prior to our son’s drama camp play.  Like any food court it had a UN worthy assortment of ‘ethnic’ foods.  I got grocery store style sushi, the kids got some sort of imitation Chinese food swimming in sugar and sodium and Jim, functioning fully out of character, went Middle Eastern.  Now, the gyro or Middle Eastern food wasn’t so out of character, it was the side of baba ganoush that was off.  Stuffed grape leaves would have been in character but not eggplant dip.  He met me at the check out line pleased with himself ‘Tabbouleh and baba ganoush!’  Big smile. Unfortunately it was a truly insipid baba ganoush and I didn’t see any tabbouleh.  It was the sort eggplant dish that encourages people to hate eggplant.  It had the texture of baby food and it was beige except for the flecks of, was it carrots?  
So when I came home to a clean and empty house, save for two very exhausted dogs, I took the opportunity to work on the blog (and do laundry).  I tried to think of items I wanted to blog about but I could not get that bad baba ganoush out of my head.  I knew I had an eggplant dip recipe somewhere and it needed a day out.
Eggplant Dip 
1-1 lb. eggplant
3 tablespoons basil
Juice of 1 lemon
2 teaspoons tahini
2 tablespoons harissa
2-3 garlic cloves, blanched or roasted
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Slice the eggplant in to 1” slices, place in a colander and sprinkle liberally with salt and rest for about 20 minutes. Rinse or wipe off the salt and leave to dry on paper towels for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile preheat the oven to 375. Pat the eggplant dry again. Oil a baking sheet and brush the eggplant slices with half of the olive oil. Bake for about 30 minutes or until the slices are golden brown and the the interior is soft. Let eggplant cool. 
Place the eggplant and the remaining ingredients in a food processor and pulse until just combined.  Serve at room temperature with a bland cracker.  I prefer the olive oil variety.
Note:  I use this recipe for harissa, you can use store bought or whichever harissa recipe you prefer.  If you make it, it keeps for about a month in a tightly sealed container in the fridge.  It’s also really good on eggs.
You do not have to blanch or roast the garlic.  If you read this blog with any regularity, you know I cannot tolerate raw garlic, but if you can, by all means go ahead.  If blanching or roasting seems like too much effort there is the microwave.  I’ll deny I told you to do so, but about 8 seconds in the old micro should do it, or so I’ve heard.

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