The Japanese eggplants in my garden have finally started to fruit.
I added them to the garden this summer as an afterthought.
Eggplants have never really grown well for me. The leaves typically get eaten alive before the plant has even the thought of a fruit, or the fruit rots before it comes close to harvest time.
Imagine my surprise, as this year, the eggplants we haphazardly planted at the edge of our herb garden are exploding.
Clearly I needed some eggplant recipes, stat.
This one has become one of my favorites. It yields a complex, smoky, eggplant dip that stands up well on it’s own. It’s an excellent compliment to grilled bread, pita chips, or raw vegetables.
If you feel inclined, chopped kalamata olives, fresh feta, and sliced tomatoes make this recipe a full meal.
2 medium to large eggplants (3 to four if you are using slender Japanese eggplants)
4 cloves garlic
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for dressing eggplants
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
3 teaspoons zatar seasoning, plus more for garnish
black pepper and salt to taste
Slice the eggplants in half lengthwise
Drizzle the eggplant liberally with extra virgin olive oil. It will soak into the eggplant flesh.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper and grill them on each side until the eggplant skin is almost black and the flesh is soft and shows deep grill marks.
Cut off the eggplant stems and discard them
Place the following into a high-powered blender or food processor: garlic, grilled eggplant, 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil, cayenne pepper, smoked paprika, 3 tablespoons of zatar, salt and black pepper.
Pulse until combined and then blend on high until fully incorporated.
Scoop into a serving bowl and serve.