I have always detested eggplant. The texture. The taste. Yuck. But then I took a trip to Romania with my family for a wedding in 2001. While there, I was introduced to the most delicious eggplant spread. A whole new world was opened to me. I'm still not eggplant's biggest fan, but I don't shudder at the thought of eating it either.
This recipe from Tyler Florence isn't identical to what we had in Romania, but it is delicious. My mom makes this like crazy in the summer with eggplant from her garden. It even freezes really well! Just put the spread in a freezer-safe container and freeze. Just thaw completely in the refrigerator when you're ready to eat it. Delicious!
4 baby Italian eggplants (about 1 pound total), scored
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 garlic cloves
1 tbsp. tahini paste
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
Handful cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
Split the eggplants in half through the stem and score sides. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt. Grill eggplants on a very hot grill pan until skins are wrinkled and black and flesh side is nicely charred. When the eggplants are cool enough to handle, cut off tops.
In a food processor, combine eggplant, garlic, tahini, lemon juice, cumin and cilantro and puree until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Pour in the olive oil and pulse again to incorporate. Taste and adjust seasoning, as needed. Pour into a serving bowl and garnish with a drizzle of olive oil and some roughly chopped cilantro.
One package MSPI-friendly pitas, cut into chips
Cooking spray or extra virgin olive oil
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lay out pita wedges on a tray, coat chips with cooking spray or brush with oil. Sprinkle with salt. Bake in the hot oven for 10 to 15 minutes until warmed through. If you prefer a crispier pita bake for a further 5 to 7 minutes.
Tip: Tahini paste is made from ground sesame seeds. Depending on the store, it can be found with the peanut butter, international foods or natural food section.