First off, let me say that I’m not a fan of eggplant. I’ve tried it in parm form – meh. I’ve tried it in grilled form – meh. I’ve never been a fan of baba ganoush. In other words, eggplant’s just never worked for me. I tried to make things out of it when it showed up in earlier weeks’ veggie boxes, and it just never found a warm spot in my heart.
I’ve FINALLY found a way that I like eggplant! My theory about it still stands: eggplant is a delivery mechanism. Just as pita is often a means of delivering hummus, eggplant is typically a way of delivering something else. In the case of the most common use for eggplant (eggplant parmesan), it’s for delivering cheese and red sauce. You might as well be eating cardboard that was breaded and fried – and in some cases, you’d get more flavor.
So, when I got yet another eggplant in the CSA box (albeit a small one), I knew I had to find some way to turn this thing into a delivery of something I wanted. It didn’t exactly help that I’m slightly under the weather and have a completely variable appetite. As I was thinking about what to do with said eggplant, I was struck by the idea of roasting it until it was mushable. Just roasting the eggplant by itself seemed silly and wasteful, though. As long as the oven’s on, why not roast some garlic with it and put them together in a bowl? YES! I would turn eggplant into a roasted garlic delivery mechanism! GENIUS!
How did it turn out? I LOVED IT. Given that it was a small eggplant, it made enough for about one person, or *maybe* two people (if they’re friendly). I saved a small amount for dh, since he was out of the house while this was made. And, now, if I *ever* have another eggplant cross my path, this is the first thing I’ll want to do with it. This could totally be done with a larger eggplant; all of the other ingredients just need to be scaled up proportionately. Given the size of the eggplant that I used, if you got the standard 1lb eggplant, you’ll just want to double the rest of the ingredients and probably add about 5-10 min cooking time, to make sure that you get it to the desired consistency. The eggplant should be browned (not blackened) on top.
The other nice thing about this recipe is that it requires very little “active” time in the kitchen. And it’s easy. I’m a big fan of easy. Note that I don’t use a blender or food processor. For one thing, this was done with a small eggplant, so it was a small enough quantity that A) it wouldn’t have worked well in a machine, and B) I had a sleeping child a few rooms away and was afraid to wake him up! With a larger eggplant, a machine may be employed – but I don’t feel that the dip was lacking because it had a less-than-smooth consistency.
(Apologies for the chip being in better focus than the dip…my camera REFUSED to believe that the dip was focus-worthy. IT WAS WRONG.)
Prep time: 5 min (active) + 30 min (inactive)
Cooking time: 30 min
1 small white/Italian eggplant (about 6oz)
1 small head of garlic (about 4 small/medium cloves)
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp grated parmesan cheese
Make it Happen
1. Wash the eggplant and pat it dry. Slice it lengthwise and leave it with the insides (meat) facing up. Sprinkle salt over top of the eggplant meat and pat it down gently, to distribute it evenly across the top of the eggplant. Leave it to sit for 30 minutes to draw water out of the eggplant.
2. While the eggplant is sitting, prep the garlic for roasting: slice off the top and a thin layer of the bottom of the head of garlic, so the tops and bottoms of the cloves will be exposed. Set the head of garlic aside on the same cutting board as the eggplant.
3. Preheat the oven to 400F about 15 min. into the eggplant’s resting phase.
4. When the eggplant is done sitting, use a paper towel to wipe off the water and salt from the top of the eggplant. Place the eggplant halves (still meat-side up) on a cookie sheet covered with a sheet of aluminum foil.
5. Lightly brush olive oil on the meat of the eggplant halves.
6. Take a smaller piece of foil and pour a little olive oil on the center. Place the garlic head on top of that olive oil, then lightly pour olive oil all over the head of garlic, until it’s fully coated. Fold up the tin foil around and over the head of garlic, so as to make a closed pouch, then place that on the cookie sheet next to the eggplant halves. Roast at 400F for 30 mins.
7. Remove the cookie sheet from the oven and scoop the inside of the eggplant out into a bowl with a large spoon. Mash the eggplant gently with the spoon.
8. Squeeze the roasted garlic cloves out of the skin, then add those to the bowl. Mash those gently, as well, then stir to combine.
9. Add the lemon juice and the parmesan cheese to the bowl; stir to combine.
10. Serve with chips of your choice (or good dipping veggies – like carrots, celery or peppers). I served mine with multi-grain tortilla chips.