Purple Plant Eaters

Eggplants are currently in season, and Texas farmers markets and stores that regionally source produce (Sprouts, Whole Foods, Central Market) are all brimming with yummy locally grown varieties. It is hard to think of eggplant recipes without immediately associating it with eggplant parmesan. A fine dish, but why limit this little purple plant?

Since summer is just starting up and the weather is still somewhat ‘pleasant,’ we have been longing to take things outdoors. After much waiting and anticipation, Akim used his birthday money, and we finally purchased our very own charcoal grill! Grilling our eggplants was probably one of the easiest things we have ever done in terms of preparing a meal: very little prep work (minus heating up the grill) and cook time plus lots of leftovers and deliciousness.

Grilled Eggplant, Halloumi Cheese, and Pesto Sandwich
recipe from a great blog Veggie Belly

To save precious time on a work night {and add a little extra spice} we picked up a great pre-made Jalapeño Cilantro Pesto at Whole Foods. We also replaced the mayo with a Smokey Chipotle Mustard we found at Central Market. These two touches added a nice kick to the sandwich, and the combination of flavors was amazing.

Since we had two eggplants,  I decided to make dip out of the other one. I love the Mediterranean flavors, how simple it is to make, and how well it holds up in the fridge-providing a nice little snack throughout the week. You can use the oven, but if you already have your grill fired up, the smoky charcoal flavor is incredible!

Baba Ganoush–silly name, fantastic dip!

Ingredients:

1 large eggplant
2 tablespoons tahini
2 tablespoons Greek style plain yogurt
1 tablespoon Olive Oil, plus more for drizzle
Juice from 1 small lemon
Salt to taste
2 tablespoons of chopped flat leaf parsley (garnish)
Dash of Paprika (optional garnish)

Serves 2

Instructions:

1. Pierce the eggplant several times to avoid an explosion.

2. Grill the eggplant over medium hot coals (approximately 30 minutes) until the skin is charred all over and it feels soft to the touch. Turn it every so often to ensure it cooks on all sides. Alternative Oven Method: pre-heat to 400 degrees, place on cookie sheet, and roast for 40-45 minutes.

3. When eggplant is finished cooking, cool until comfortable to handle. Juice from the eggplant might drain out as it cools. Make a slit down the middle and remove the flesh with a spoon (similar to an avocado), and then roughly chop the flesh. Transfer to a strainer and drain remaining excess liquid.

4. Using a fork or a wooden spoon, mix all of the ingredients (except garnishes) in a bowl. Mash and mix until it has a creamy consistency. Little bumps and lumps are perfectly ok, just not huge chunks of eggplant. Alternative method: dump all ingredients in food processor and blend until the mixture looks smooth.

5. Transfer to a shallow serving dish and garnish with a drizzle of olive oil, parsley and a dash of paprika.

6. Serve at room temperature. Goes great with pita bread, crackers, carrot and celery stick, or even spread on a wrap.

Unfortunately, we gobbled up all of our dip before snapping some photos. I will need to make this again soon to photograph.

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