Smoky Eggplant Dip

Truth be told, I wasn’t crazy about eggplant until we ate it–in abundance–in Greece and Turkey. Something about eggplant’s texture and lack of flavor always turned me off, and I found it edible not enjoyable. But in the Mediterranean, they transform aubergines (as they call them) into the most delicious dips. We were sold on the first version we tried and proceeded to order aubergine as a meze at every restaurant—it was that good! Each version was slightly different, some more salsa-like with chopped tomatoes, others more creamy with yogurt. Some were garlicky, some were smoky. All were tasty.

With eggplants conveniently in season at the market, I’ve been experimenting over the last few weeks to recreate my perfect version at home. I found grilling to be the trick for an amazing smoky flavor, and a tiny drizzle of harissa oil at the end for imparting an extra kick. Let me tell you, this dip is just plain delightful—and couldn’t be any simpler. Consider it your new, healthy dip for fall…

Smoky Eggplant Dip

2 large eggplants/aubergines
1/2 cup non-fat, plain Greek yogurt
1 large clove of garlic, roasted
1 teaspoon coarse salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
1 teaspoon harissa paste
2 teaspoons olive oil
Flatbread, grilled

Heat grill to medium-high heat. Prick each eggplant all over with a fork to prevent bursting. Grill the eggplants about 20-25 minutes, flipping once, until tender and charred. Remove eggplant and let cool slightly. Meanwhile, carefully place the garlic clove in a grill basket and roast, just a minute or two, then remove. You can also place a full head of garlic directly on the grill and reserve the extra roasted garlic for another recipe.

Cut the grilled eggplants in half lengthwise. Score the inside with a knife–it will be very soft. Using a spoon, carefully scoop out the seeds and discard (the dip’s texture is better without the seeds). Then scoop out all the eggplant meat and place it in a small food processor. Add the single roasted garlic clove. Puree until smooth. Add yogurt, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Puree again to blend. Season to taste with extra salt.

To serve, transfer the eggplant-yogurt dip to a shallow bowl. Top with the toasted pine nuts and chopped parsley. In a separate prep bowl, stir the olive oil into the harissa paste. Pour the harissa oil around the edges of the eggplant dip, and serve with grilled pita bread.

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