- Eggplants are fruit, not vegetables. More specifically they're berries.
- Eggplants are huge in India, like Bollywood huge. I Googled the etymology of "eggplant" and apparently the term was coined in the 18th century. At the time a popular Indian varietal was white in color, hence the "egg".
- In Renaissance Italy eggplants were called "crazy apples". It was believed that eating the fruit would make you mad. I would like to bring the name "crazy apples" back.
- A carbon steel knife will turn black if you use it to cut an eggplant so use stainless steel.
Fresh seasonal ingredients will shine without much fuss and this recipe exemplifies that. It's dead simple yet tastes incredibly rich and is quite versatile.
I've included exact measurements (in ounces) because I like to measure things on my scale. I love my scale like Monica from Friends loves her label maker (though label makers are pretty great, too). It's obsessive, but it also helps bring consistency to my kitchen so I can build on recipes.
- 2 medium/large eggplants, chopped into 1 1/2 inch pieces (you should have about 20 oz after prepping) Note: I use white eggplant, but the purple variety will work, too.
- 5 small/medium red bell peppers, cut in half, ribs and seeds removed (you should have about 10 oz after prepping)
- 1 smallish head of garlic, about 1/3 inch sliced off of the end (not the root end) Note: Your garlic should look like this.
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Kosher or flake salt + freshly ground pepper
- Pita bread for serving
- Dried oregano
- Optional ingredients include: roasted red onion and fresh basil
UPDATE: I've added two options for roasting and peeling the red peppers. When I made this recipe the other day there were little bits of pepper skin in the dip - not a great texture. I made another batch with peeled peppers and it was much better.
- Move an oven rack to the middle position and heat your oven to 350.
- Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and then lay a piece of parchment paper on top of that.
- Spread your eggplant in an even layer, drizzle generously with olive oil, and toss. Note: Eggplant acts like a sponge and will soak up the oil very quickly. Be sure to toss immediately for even coating.
- UPDATED - For the red peppers you have two options:
- Option 1: Roast the peppers with the eggplant and garlic, skin-side down. The skin will start to blacken towards the end of roasting. As soon as the peppers come out of the oven wrap them in parchment and place in a sealed Ziplock bag (you want them to "sweat"). After about 15 minutes remove the peppers and the skin should peel right off.
- Option 2: After the eggplant and garlic are finished, turn the broiler on high and follow these instructions to char and peel the peppers. The skin peels off a bit easier with this method.
- Rub your garlic with olive oil and seal in aluminum foil.
- Roast for 1 to 1 1/2 hours until your peppers and eggplant are starting to caramelize. Note: Garlic is pretty forgiving so I usually leave it in until everything is finished.
- Let things cool off a bit and then gently remove the garlic cloves.
- Toss everything in a food processor and process until smooth. Scrape down the sides and redistribute around the blade.
- With the processor running drizzle about 2 tablespoons of olive oil through the feed tube.
- Add salt and pepper to taste. If it's too thick or rich simply add a little more olive oil (with the processor running). Note: I've learned the hard way that it's very easy to add too much olive oil to this dip so proceed with caution. You can even wait until the next day to see how the flavors are developing and then adjust accordingly.
- The dip can be served immediately, but I recommend refrigerating it overnight to let the flavors meld.
- Move an oven rack to the middle position and heat your oven to 425.
- Cut your pita bread into triangles Note: I use my cooking scissors to cut around the edge, then I separate the two halves and cut them into triangles.
- Lay the pita triangles in a single layer, brush with olive oil, sprinkle with kosher or flake salt, and then bake until they're to your liking.
- Remove from the oven and immediately sprinkle with a pinch of oregano so it sticks to the oil.
Additional Serving Ideas
- Sprinkle dip with a mild goat cheese.
- Serve the dip on bruschetta with roasted tomatoes, goat cheese, and basil. Fancy and delicious.
- Use the dip as a spread for your favorite chicken or veggie wrap.
- Eat straight from the container with a spoon.
The dip can be stored in the refrigerator (in an airtight container) for up to 2 days, 3 days if you live on the edge. Enjoy!