Roast Eggplant and Walnut Dip

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Easy

  • Serves

    6

Appears in

The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen

By Paula Wolfert

Published 2003

  • About

When it comes to eggplant, size doesn't matter, only age, firmness, and freshness. Some eggplants are as tiny as your thumb, and some are as long as your arm. Just spend some time in the vegetable market in the Turkish town of Izmir and you'll see an assortment of eggplants that will boggle your mind.

To make this delightful dip, 1 grill eggplants very slowly to achieve a deep, smoky aroma. Depending on the weather, 1 grill either on a V-shaped roasting rack over a gas burner or slowly over coals outdoors.

While many Turkish cooks blend eggplant with yogurt, the lushest creamiest texture comes by blending in lor, a local ricotta. In northern Greece, a similar salad is made by blending the eggplant with feta and mayonnaise.

Just before serving, scatter fresh chopped walnuts on top for a pleasing rush of crunch. Serve with pita crisps.

Ingredients

  • 2 eggplants, ¾ pound each
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts (3 ounces)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 scant cup ricotta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • tablespoons wine vinegar, or 3 tablespoons verjus
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

Method

  1. Pierce the eggplants with a sharp fork in 2 or 3 places (to keep them from exploding) and straddle them as high as you can on a V-shaped roasting rack. Set over a medium-low gas flame or over hot coals and grill for 15 minutes to a side, or until they are completely soft and the skin is black and blistery The longer and slower the grilling, the creamier the eggplant will be. When the eggplants collapse, remove from the grill and let cool slightly. Remove the black parched skin, then squeeze gently to remove any juices. Crush the pulp to a puree with a fork.
  2. Meanwhile, grill the pepper, turning, until soft and blackened all over. Cover with a sheet of plastic, allow to cool, then core, seed, and slip off the skin. Finely chop the pepper and mix with the eggplant.
  3. In a mortar or food processor, mash the garlic to a paste with half the walnuts and the salt. Add the ricotta, olive oil, and vinegar or verjus. Season with salt and pepper and pulse to combine. In a serving bowl, combine the garlic-walnut mixture with the eggplant-pepper pulp and mix well. Correct the seasoning. Mix the parsley with the remaining walnuts and sprinkle over the top.