This is a great garden-fresh recipe in every sense of the word. The eggplant can go from plant to fire to table without ever leaving your garden. Tasty food doesn't have to be complicated. This recipe is based on the Middle Eastern appetizer baba ganoush. Even if this preparation is familiar to you, the end result will be unique because the main component came from your garden and potentially, never left your garden! Use this recipe as an excuse to have a garden or patio party this summer.
Fire-roasted Eggplant Dip
1 large eggplant or a few small variety eggplants
1/4 cup tahini
Roasted garlic, to taste
Fresh lemon juice to taste
Salt, to taste
2 T extra virgin olive oil
Chopped fresh parsley or chopped fresh mint
Crostini, crackers or pita
Prepare a natural charcoal fire and let it burn until the coals are glowing white.
Place a head of garlic on a square of aluminum foil and drizzle it with olive oil and salt and pepper. Wrap the garlic completely in the foil and place next to the hot coals at the bottom of the grill. Rotate the garlic every now and then for about a half-hour. This step can be done ahead of time in your oven if you want. When the foil packet yields when squeezed, take the packet away from the fire and let sit on the table. When you unwrap the garlic, it will be roasted and can be squeezed out and used in the quantity that you desire.
Place the eggplant directly on the coals, letting it char while continuously rotating it with tongs. When the eggplant is completely black and charred and feels "mushy" remove it from the coals and let it cool to ambient temperature on a plate.
Peel the skin away from the eggplant and slice the eggplant flesh open to reveal the seeds. If you want, you can spoon the seeds out and discard them. otherwise, chop the eggplant on a cutting board as finely as possible.
Place the chopped eggplant into a serving bowl, add the remaining ingredients and stir well. You can also use a food processor to blend all of the ingredients except for the chopped mint and/or parsley. The parsley and mint can be stirred in by hand or sprinkled on top. The longer the dip rests, the longer the flavors have a chance to meld and the better the dip will be.
Art Jackson is a professional chef and the owner of Pleasant House Bakery, a small restaurant, opening soon, in the Bridgeport neighborhood that will be serving savory pies, daily specials and fresh, seasonal produce, much of it coming from their own urban farm. Art writes about food and gardening at his blog Pleasant House. You can follow Art and his wife Chelsea's progress on the Bakery on Twitter @phbakery and on the Facebook page for Pleasant House Bakery