Roasted Eggplant and Red Pepper Dip
When white eggplants arrive at Shaner and Peacock Farms I can't help but buy a few even if I don't have a recipe in mind. They're just so delicious and pretty...and shiny. There's no walking away from shiny. Plus, what if I need eggplant for that dinner party I don't have planned? Worse yet, what if white eggplant isn't available next week? Should I stock up? Confessions of a farmers market shopaholic.
- 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.
Peppers and eggplant at Peacock Family Farms - Santa Monica Farmers Market
- 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 small 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
UPDATE: I've added instructions 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.
- 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.
- After the eggplant and garlic are finished, line the baking sheet with a new piece of foil, move the oven rack to the highest position, and turn the broiler on high.
- Poke the peppers with a knife so that steam can escape from the cavity. Place the peppers on the foil and put under the broiler. Once the skin facing up is blackened and blistered, carefully turn the peppers so that all sides can be charred.
- Once the peppers are charred on all sides, carefully wrap up the foil around the peppers and place everything in a Ziplock bag. You can also put the peppers in a glass bowl and cover with plastic wrap. The goal is to sweat the peppers.
- When the peppers are cool enough to handle, remove and discard the charred skin so that only the pepper flesh remains.
- 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!